Nov 28, 2009

You are Sugar, You are Spice, You're everything nice..

When I was very young, I was a sick child. With that, I grew up to have very low self esteem. I would go to school with a smile and come home in tears. I would get bullied by others. Or school mates would poke fun at me. I was extremely quiet in class. And spoke only when spoken to.

And seems that no one understood how I felt. Except my dad. I used to come home and tell him everything that happened in school. And my dad would tell me not to worry. He would say "If someone thinks you are no good, prove to him you can do better. Don't let anyone thinks worse of you. "

But somehow, I wasn't convinced. Still my sadness shows. I remembered fondly my dad used to sing this song to me :

Daddy's Little Girl

You're the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold,
You're daddy's little girl to have and hold.
A precious gem is what you are,
You're mommy's bright and shining star.

You're the spirit of Christmas, my star on the tree,
You're the Easter bunny to mommy and me.
You're sugar you're spice, you're everything nice,
And you're daddy's little girl.

You're the treasure I cherish so sparkling and bright,
You were touched by the holy and beautiful light.
Like angels that sing a heavenly thing,
And you're daddy's little girl.

My dad, being educated, was able to communicate with us better. He spoke to me in English. He would expect us to read good story books. Thus I never grew up on Enid Blytons’ fairy tale books. He was a loving father who spend all his afternoons after work with us.

He would read to me as a child. I remember my early childhood days were often filled with wonderful memories of him bringing me to the Circus. Yes, there was live shows and traveling circus with performances of Elephants, horses and dogs and stunt shows.

My dad was also a quiet man. After school, he would spend all his time in the afternoon marking papers and homework. By the way, he's a retired English school teacher. After which, he would take time to tuition me in my studies. Then he would spend time with me to read to me.

My dad loves to watch movies in English. So when we got our first television in the early 1970s, its often the English programmes that was tuned in. At a young age, he taught me to appreciate many things. From music to dramas to Art. During the school holidays, he would bring me to watch Musicals. Like Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady and not forgetting all the Disney's classics like Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, etc.

My dad taught me to swim. And everything I do, no matter what it is, he finds favour in all of them. I never had to try very hard to please him. I loved my dad. In my dad's eyes, I was perfect. And so I told God as a child, one day, when its time for me to look for another man in my life, I want the same one, just like my dad.

And when that day came, God fulfilled my wish again. The man I finally met and married was like my dad in many ways. Though he will never be the same Dad I grew up with, he was someone who cared for me and loved me for what I am. And what I was capable of. Not expecting more but accepted all that I am.

I was spoiled silly as a child. My mom doted on me as much as my dad did. She would never allow me to clean the table, or even my room. I never had to learn to cook or iron the clothes. So when I got married, I knew nothing about household work or even to cook a decent meal.

But I strived to improve, to be better and to be what he wanted for a lifetime partner. Its often said " Love changes things" And yes, it does. It changes me.

This post is dedicated to all the fathers out there. The ones we have now, the ones who have gone now, the ones waiting to be one now too. Thank you for all you are to me, to us.

This is my his prime years. At 75 years old, his hair is still jet black, naturally.

And may God bless every father out there.

Nov 27, 2009

Eat and Be Merry

Well, these are all old archives. If you ask why I didn't have any on Natasha, its because Digital cameras are too expensive back then. And not very popular. When Melody came into our lives, digicam was the in-thing..inside mobile phones and on standalone too. So I just cook, just snap and snap.

One of the things I really missed these days is to cook for the family. Meals to many may be just to eat to survive or eat to fill the tummies. To us at home, a meal at home is about bonding, about love for each other and to share about the day's events and jokes we hear or things we see. That is why I never allowed my girls to eat like a buffet style at home. Meals are always a sit-down-at- the-table affair. They learn important family values and about filial piety.

From a tender age, they dine with us at the table. Even though they may not eat the food there. But they learn about having respect for elders. And will address the elders first, then wait for the signal. When the elders say its okay to tuck in, they will then poke their spoons and forks into the dishes.

I kept this ritual true and steadfast till today. Now Melody is 11 years old, Natasha is 19 years old. And they still do this at meal times. They would each call out their father and say :

"Papa, time for dinner"

Be seated at the table but won't touch the food till daddy starts.

Its old school values, chinese style. But table manners is a must. My mom taught me all this too. But due to our work schedules we are home after work at different timing. So we don't dine with her the same time. Then its truly a gift to be able to dine with her in this proper manner during Chinese New year or at Christmas.

And this lunch was cooked, prepared for a friend who visited Singapore. Made a trip to my place. So I promised her Nasi Lemak meal for her and her dad.

I wonder how many people still do this? Or am I a Dinosaur?

Nov 26, 2009

All I want for Christmas is...

well, definitely not my two front teeth! A fellow blogger and friend had a chat with me recently and ask me what I do for Christmas every year and the kind of gifts I get too. While I told her the usual fare of Roast Turkey and Ham, and family and relatives and toys for the kids, I also told her my personal wish list I had for years.

And every year, I wish for the same thing. And without fail, God has been fulfilling my wish every year too. For that, I think I am truly blessed. I mean, how often you get your wish granted? Every single time you ask for it?

Since the day I met hubby dearest, I knew I WILL NOT see him on Christmas Eve or eve of Chinese New Year. Because he works in the retail industry. Its in this time, retail business is at its best. So his boss wants him to work throughout the holidays too.

So I made a simple wish to God.

"Dear God, I don't want big or small presents. I don't need turkey or ham on the table. But I really really really want Benny to be with me on Christmas eve, and also on eve of Chinese New Year. That's all I want, Lord. In Jesus' Name, AMEN! "

For years, God fulfilled my wish. For the last 10 over years, I see him with me every Christmas. And this year, again, I ask for the same thing. I know its not going to be easy as we just open shop. How can we close shop early? Just wishful thinking, I believe. But knowing God, He does works in mysterious ways we cannot understand.

Hubby told me last night we should close early for Christmas like half day. So I have time to do my roasts for the family and packed the gifts for the little kids. And in my heart, I said to God "Thank you, Lord! You have answered my prayer again!"

Here to you and you.. I know its a bit early. We are still in November. But I just wanna share my joy with you.

This Christmas, I'll be home for Christmas. That's for sure.
I love this song, although not really that appropriate..Its not in my dreams anymore. Its really happening.

Our store will be opened at 10am on Christmas Eve, 24th December and will be closed early at 4pm.

Thank you all who came and supported us.

Nov 23, 2009

Colour my world..

Its been a long wait. But finally, the coloured fondant from Switzerland finally arrived last weekend.

Under the brand of Bakels, the one brand I use for all my class work or even cakes I did for friends or family. Its alot more softer than Wilton's. Taste wise, its better than Wilton brand. I prefer it to be softer so its easier to roll a large piece to cover a cake.

Its packed by Bakels Switzeralnd in 1kg pack. Each costs S$22.50. Right now, I only bring in Black, Christmas Red, Sky Blue and Peach. Although they have other colours like Chocolate, White, Ivory, Yellow, Orange, Purple, I feel these colours are easily to knead and roll. While the latter seems to take forever to knead and you need lots of food colouring too.

Here is how the packs look like:

You can get these at KC store.

Supplier gave me a sample pack to play with September. And I use it to make the Teacher's Day cuppies. Here's my girl, Melody using it to make the cuppies :

I only have limited stock : 10 packs per colour. As of today, already sold 3 packs last weekend. Hurry to get yours before its gone.

Expiry date is October 2010

Nov 21, 2009

Cookies for ..

Finding an excuse to bake cookies for family and baked a little extra to give to my students today. Its deliciously good. I never knew that premix biscuit mix can be as good as home made ones. Supplier gave me a sample pack 3 months ago. Since then, I have been using it to create 10 different flavours. They told me the original recipe came from Switzerland and was send to their Malaysian office for repacking, production to make the product "Halal" for muslims too.

Its no wonder the customers at KC store keeps coming back for it. Here's one recipe for you to try at home:

Green Tea Bing Cherries Cookies
Recipe by Gina Choong

Yields 2 tubs of cookies

500g APITO Biscuit Mix
250g Butter(salted)
2 tbsp Green Tea powder(bakeable)
100g Dried Bing Cherries

1. Leave butter out to soften in room temperature
2. Add flour, green tea powder and bing cherries to mix till it forms into a dough
3. Scoop out using a cookie scoop and place on baking tray.*
4. Bake in preheated oven 180C for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to cool before storing in air tight jars.

1. You don't need to line a baking tray with parchment paper as the dough has butter. It won't stick to the tray.
2. You can use unsalted butter or even margarine for this biscuit mix.
3. Apito is the brand name. The company that produces this product is Bakels

Nov 16, 2009

Muffins coming out of my ears!

That's the remark from one of the students when they came for a full hands-on Muffin baking class with me last Saturday.

They mix, fold and baked 3 flavours of cupcakes on their own. And they had to sample their own and their course-mates' version to give each other encouragement and review how they could improve better.

They also had to taste mine!

There was no magic in making that perfect fluffy, puffy muffin. No electric mixers or fancy equipment. Just a bowl, a wooden spatula, some measuring cups or a digital scale and a basic Convection oven!

Look at them in action..and yes, we had a Gentleman who joined us. He's awfully quiet at first. A thorn among the roses. Over time, the ladies teased him and he open up quite a bit. Overall, we all had fun. Eating muffins and sharing tips and reviews.

I taught them 3 flavours : 1 Savory which was the Cheese and Bacon Muffins, 2 sweet : Ice Cream muffins and Cranberry and Buttermilk muffins.

While waiting for the muffins to bake, we also talk about Roasting turkeys for Christmas. That's more like what I like to do for the family.Mine are all meat eaters, no bakes or pastries.

The next muffin class will probably happen in January 2010.

Nov 15, 2009

Mini Wedding cakes

I am starting a series of mini cakes baking with decoration classes in December. That's next month. If you are interested, do sign up quickly. I will repeat the series every month if it proves to be popular. Or if you cannot come on the dates and still wanna learn from me, do drop me an email, I can still teach you and your friends at my place at the same published rates.

Here's what I will be teaching:

For December's schedule, click here to find out.

Some photos of the mini cakes:

I will be showing you how I did the wedding cakes for my friend. And about packaging

Its a special 2 day workshop : Day 1, you will learn how to bake the mini cakes, 2 flavours : Sweet Cherries Fairy Cupcakes(the one I did for the wedding) and a Special new flavour using Valrhona cocoa powder and Walnuts. You will given a set of ingredients needed to bake at home when you leave for the day.

On Day 2, you will bake the cupcakes(using the ingredients given) and bring to class. There you will learn the full aspects of moulding roses, decorating the cupcake and also how to pack and store the cupcakes for longer periods(1 week or more).

If you have any other queries, feel free to write to me at

Nov 14, 2009

Taste of Time

Some friends ask me why my blog was named as Taste of Time. Its actually a name of section I have when I was working and writing for Kitchen Culture's Food and Travel magazine.

I decided to adopt that name for my blog. The magazine is still in print but have been given a facelift. All the old sections have 'disappeared' and new ones have been added.

Showing here some old pages which I use to have (written, archived).

The photos of the food are real food. Which I have cooked for food styling and photography work. After the photography, we packed the meals for the photographer, Sam Yeo and for my colleague, Ms Pauline D Loh who taught me much about food styling. We ate our 'spoils'..!

Here's me with Alice (not from Wonderland, though!). Alice is a TV journalist with Taiwan TV. They came to Singapore during the Singapore Food Festival 2006 to film me on the Hakka Heritage Cooking. Seen here, I was showing how to use the Red Rice Wine lees to marinate the chicken.

The cooking demo was done at Kitchen Culture's showroom at Leng Kee Road

Later, we toast to the press(and TV crew too!)..

The yummy Ang Chao Chicken in red wine..yums!

ah...memories are made of these..

Nov 7, 2009

The Wedding

I promised everyone photos. So I ask my daughter, Natasha to help me to take more photos when we were setting up the cake and mini cakes at the wedding reception.

If you look at the original cake photo (yesterday's blog post entry), you will noticed that the flowers on the top tier seem to have grown more leaves..! Final touches were made this morning at 7am. I found it a bit too bare at the top. And added more leaves to surround the top.

The overall cake at the church's hall.

My sister, my aunty helped to assemble the mini cakes at 2 coffee tables. To give it more presence due to its mini size, we 'build' a pyramid with it. It was beautiful.

However, I won't be showing photos of the bride and groom. I didn't think they would want their photos on public viewing.

Thank you for viewing...

Nov 6, 2009

The Project of THE year!

The long awaited(and also long winded!) post for this year. The ultimate cake I was to bake, decorated for Ru Shin. A girl I knew since she was little girl. Watching her grew up, seeing her in all our family parties we had over the years. It was such a privilege to me that the family ask if I could bake and decorated the cake for Ru Shin's wedding.

At that time, the shop wasn't opened back then, and I didn't expect the store to take up most of my days and nights and hours. So I said "Yes" without much doubt or thought.

Ru Shin was clear about what she wanted. She envisaged how the cake will look like. But she was also worried if we could pull it off. Honestly speaking, I was a bit fearful myself. Because I have never decorated any wedding cakes for anyone. Although I have taught many to do it themselves.

She would send me photos of the cakes she saw online and thought about the flowers she wanted too. She didn't want roses which was seen in every wedding cake. She wanted something different for a change. She wanted Peonies. And it has to be pink.

Photo source : no idea. Just to show me how a peony look like. Because I have never seen a peony in real life before.

She wanted the cake to be 3 tier, covered in sugarpaste that was tinted light green so that the flowers will stand out from afar. And it must only have 6 flowers. Why six flowers? Because Ru Shin family name was "Look" and that sounded like the number six in Cantonese.

I didn't have time to make the flowers myself, so I contacted my source for gum paste flowers. This lady gave me fantastic advice on how big or small the flowers should be, based on the gap between the tiered cakes.

I send her photos of how the flowers should look like..and my gum paste flower maker did this for me:

Oh, how I prayed about this project I have. I asked God only for two things and that is Wisdom and Strength. Wisdom, so that I would know what I need to do, how I should do it. Strength so that I have the energy by the end of the year and possibly the stamina to carry through with this.

Initially, I had planned that my students come by to help me. In the end, I realised many are away for their kid's exams or travelling. So I took upon this task to do it myself.

The wedding is tomorrow, 7 November 2009. But for now, here is the cake I baked, decorated for Ru Shin. More photos to come tomorrow, after the wedding.

The guests (about 400 or so) will get a slice of the cake too. Wrapped and packed into the wedding favour boxes I have prepared.

The cake is actually a very simple cake. But Ru Shin and her family insisted that it was one that made with Love..lots of it. I had to modify an existing recipe I had used for my classes to suit their family needs of less sugar, with more plump cherries and juicy at every bite.

So I modified the it is:

Sweet Cherries Fairy Cake
Recipe By Gina Choong


250g salted butter(soften in room temperature)
120g fine sugar
4 eggs(room temperature)
200g plain flour

1 can of Dark Sweet cherries(S&W brand)
400ml Cointreau(orange liquor)

1. Drain cherries from the can. Put the cherries in a glass jar to soak with liquor.
2. Leave this jar in the fridge and covered. Soak for at least 7 days.
3. Drain from liquor and leave aside. Do not discard the liquor. You can add 7 Up or Sprite to it to drink.
4. Whip butter and sugar on high speed for 10 minutes.
5. Note that you must whip until the butter look very pale yellow.
6. Then lower the speed, add eggs one at a time
7. Continue to whip for 5 mins.
8. Add flour and continue to whip for 2 to 3 mins or until its evenly mixed.
9. Lastly add the cherries. Do not turn up the speed. Or the cherries will crush.
10. Pour batter into cake pans .
11. Baked in preheated oven 180C for 35 to 40 mins.
12. Leave to cool in the oven. Then removed.
13. Best to eat this after its aged for 1 day or 2.

Just to let you know how much ingredients I have used for this project:

60 pieces of SCS Salted Butter(250g)
4kg Fine sugar(yeah, that little!)
40 cans S&W Dark Sweet Cherries
20 packs of Prima Plain Flour
200 eggs
3 bottles of Cointreau liquor

Nov 5, 2009

A packet of flour

What to do with a packet of flour that has been sitting in your pantry for months? We often get that urge to bake something. So we head down to the store, get a couple packs of flour, bake in a frenzy. Then occasionally, we have a packet of flour lying around too.

On days when I really don't feel like baking, the flour can sit in the baking cabinet for weeks. Rather than to waste it, I would just use the whole pack to make vegetarian gluten. At least that can last longer, in frozen state and I can use it later to create other vegetarian dishes.

Here's how to use the packet of flour in your kitchen:

Vegetarian Gluten
Recipe taken from The Chinese Kitchen(cookbook)

This is Raw Gluten. The texture is very soft and has a rubbery feel. But does not stick to your hands or the plate.

Makes 300g of gluten
1 kg plain flour
2 tsp salt
600ml warm water

1. Sift flour in a mixing bowl.
2. Add salt and water to form into a dough.
3. Knead until smooth and cover with a damp cloth and leave to stand for 1 hour.
4. Place dough in a large sieve. Run cold water over it while you press and squeeze the dough with your hands to wash out as much as starch.
5. Do this till the dough reduces to half its size.
At this stage, the gluten dough is formed. You can use it for various recipes.

Storage for later use
Keep in a plastic container and cover it. Store in the fridge for upto 10 days.

More water will be secreted over time..just throw away the water

Here's what I have used it to make..enjoy!

Vegetarian Fish Maw
Recipe by Gina Choong


100g vegetarian gluten
1 tsp fine salt
oil for deep frying

1. Cut gluten into thin slices. and sprinkle salt on both sides

2. Heat up the wok with oil and drop in each slice to fry till golden brown.

3. Drain excess oil and use per recipe.

Vegetarian Fish Maw can be use for cooking with steamboat or with soup. Uneaten ones must be kept in air tight containers. It goes soft very fast. To make it crispy, just toast in preheated oven 200C for 5 mins.

You can eat it on its own by dipping it straight into chilli sauce or mayo