Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Screwed up cakes

Saw this on specials at Coles for AUD2 on Sunday. Yeah, I know. I still use AUD instead of $ or dollars. I guess, in time (maybe 5 or 10 years down the road) when I've fully adapted to living here, I'd refer AUD as $ or dollars. Till then...

As I was saying, Green's Classic Carrot Cake was on specials. Bought it and tried it out. You'd think that with the easy-to-follow-step-by-step instructions provided at the back of the box, the cake will turn out beautifully.

Wrong! I made so many mistakes I wondered where I put my brains the whole time I was in the kitchen making this. Firstly, brainy me decided to make the batter into cupcakes instead of cake . Secondly, I poured more water than required.

I read 1/3 cup of water and poured the measured water into the mixing bowl up to 2/3 cups of water only to realise that I actually measured 2 and 1/3 cups of water in the first place. 

OMG!! *bangs head on the table* 

But what else can I do? So, I bimbo-ly just proceeded on.

After following step 1 and 2, I spooned the mixture into the cupcake paper cups only to realise I forgot to put vegetable oil and butter! *groan*

I scooped all mixture from the 12 cupcake paper cups back into the mixing bowl. Threw the gooey paper cups away and placed new ones into the tray. Poured the oil and butter into the mixing bowl, mixed them and scooped them back into the individual paper cups.

I put the cupcake mix into the oven and hoped for the best. 

Next, I decided to mix the icing provided in the box. As I read the instructionse, to my embarrassment, it hit me that the butter I initially forgot to put in the cupcake mix only later on to mix it in was meant for the icing and NOT the cupcake batter. 

Seriously, how dumb can I be? At that point, I figure the cupcakes are doomed to fail. Looking at the oven and seeing them rise prettily gave me hope. 

And that is what hope can do... give you a few percentages of feeling that everything is going to be alright and BAM!! It is the end of your world when your hopes are dashed. *drama queen* 

The cupcake looked and smelt alright. Mr. C and I tasted 1 cupcake. He thinks it is edible but I think, THROW THEM IN THE BIN!! Not worth torturing one's (my) tastebuds with such atrocity!

So, 11 cupcakes (with peanut butter icing) sit atop the counter table waiting to be devoured by Mr. C. 

It's end of Tuesday and they're still sitting there, as pretty as you pleased. I reckon come Friday, it'll still be there and I'll just bin it.

Hate doing something that didn't turn out well in the end. I know it doesn't define who I am, nevertheless, I still can't help feeling like I've failed. Or maybe it's just PMS talking.

Well, all was not wrong in Estherville as Mr. C's stew concoction for our Sunday dinner was wonderfully made and tasted delicious. It was a nice, warm tasting comfort food just perfect to rid the wintery cold.
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Monday, July 30, 2012

RECIPE : Sticky Date Pudding the Master Chef way

Mr. C and I decided to try the buffet at Village Green at the corner of Springvale Road and Ferntree Gully Road in Glen Waverley. Gosh. It was AUD22 per adult. We really should have just gone straight to Springvale for Pho as planned 'cos I deemed the food at Village Green just not worth it.

There was a variety of food like a typical buffet spread but the taste of the food was just lacking. I can only stomach the fried spring roll, Chinese fried noodles and stir fried chicken where else Mr. C liked the roast pork. 

I am a sticky date pudding fan and I was ECSTATIC to see them offer that. However, when I went to get a scoop of it, it looked really mushy and wet. But you know what? I figured to give it a benefit of a doubt and boy did I regret it.

IT was just way too mushy and wet. Somehow, when I swallow anything that my tastebuds dislike, my body rejects and first reaction is to gag. Thank God nothing came out.

Bought my dates from Coles and boy, it's tough to chop them up!! Gets all sticky and goeey...

Which leads to this post. In the past, I've had my fair share of Sticky Date Pudding. And most times, it costs AUD8-15 per serving depending where you have it. However, when I found this recipe on Master Chef and tried my hand at making it, I rarely order this pudding when I eat out.

WHY?? well...

#1 The Master Chef recipe is extremely easy to follow. 

#2 It is waaaay cheaper to bake your own at home as opposed to buying it. It costs less than AUD15 to make one whole cake worth instead of a measly piece out in shops.

#3 Not only is it cost efficient to make it at home, it tastes REALLY good. Even better than more than half of those I've had in shops. 

#4 I made for Mr. C's colleagues and they LOVED LOVED it. I made it for Sal and she loved it! Mr. C's colleague and Sal asked for the recipe and found it easy to make and the people they served it to loved the pudding to bits!

Below is the recipe taken from Master Chef's website. The recipe is by Master Chef 2011 contestant, Rachel McSweeney. I am eternally grateful to her for sharing such a wonderful dessert with easy to follow instructions!

Pre-chopped dates

Ingredients required for PUDDING:
- 340g dried dates, pitted and chopped
- 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate soda
- 500ml water
- 120g water
- 340g brown sugar
- 4eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 340g self-raising flour

for SAUCE:
- 400g brown sugar
- 200ml cream
- 250g butter

1) Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius. Grease baking paper and line it around 26cm spring foam cake tin.

2) Place dates, bi-carb and water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.

3) Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring until dates break down. Turn off heat and cool slightly.

4) Add butter, stir until melted and fully combined.

5) Mix in brown sugar, add eggs and vanilla and stir well to combine.

6) Fold in sifted flour until just combined.

Everything looked easy and right up till this part...

I thought I did it wrongly cos it looked lumpy and gross after folding in the flour...

But you know what? I followed the instructions right and was blessed with YUM pudding!!

7) Pour into prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in tin.

8) For sauce, place all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for minutes until golden.

9) To serve, slice pudding and cover generously with sauce.

Preparation and cooking time : Approximately 90 minutes.

Serves : 12 (according to the website but for me, it can easily serve to 20 pieces and slightly more)

From the oven

About 22 pieces... for me and Mr. C's colleagues

More awesome points to making this pudding.. you can keep it for a week or even more. And when you crave for something sweet and delicious, just pop a slice or two into the microwave oven for about 15-20 seconds. Topped it off with the awesome tasting but super sweet and ready made butterscotch vanilla  with ice cream (I used chocolate chip cookies 'cos that was in my freezer)!!
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday lunch at Sakura House in Knox


After church this morning, Mr. C and I went to Knox City for lunch. We walked past several shops at the Knox City Ozone area and finally settled on trying this eatery, Sakura House. The petite girl that waited at our table was friendly and served us with a smile.

I saw the sign below and asked her about it to which she was kind enough to assist Mr. C and I "Like"  Sakura House Knox Ozone on Facebook via our Samsung Galaxy S2 just so we can get a FREE Gyoza or a Salmon Floss Cone. 

I had the Gyoza which I generously shared with Mr. C. It looked alright and inviting but was only average unfortunately. I was expecting meaty mince taste inside the dumplings like the usual but barely tasted any.

Mr. C had the Salmon Floss cone below. Being the loving and ever sharing hubby, I had a few bites of this tasty wrapped sushi roll. I mean, it wasn't anything extra special to shout about but it definitely tasted heaps better than my mediocre Gyoza.

Silly me was expecting raw sushi as the 'Floss' word after the Salmon on the menu was just invisible to my eyes. Nevertheless, I liked the floss topping sushi.

After the hype over our free starters, we had our mains. Mr. C had his Bento Box and mine, my Katsu Don.

Most of the time, I order this dish whenever I have Japanese. You see, when you order the same food at different eateries, it is easier to make a comparison of sorts.

Just like my bubble tea affair. Every time I have one, it's always Original Pearl Milk tea with pearls. And that is how I know I liked the ones at SS2 Mall and Uptown branch in Malaysia as compared to any other branches, even the ones in Australia! 

I digress... back to matter at hand.

Sadly, I have to be honest and say that the Katsu Don isn't the best I've had. It isn't the worst either but I definitely won't be coming back anytime soon or rather have this again. Mr. C's bento looked delicious but it was just alright. 

We reckon the ones at Don Don on Swanston Street is heaps tastier and easier on the pocket!

All in all, I'd only come back here if there really isn't any other new food shops to try. Doesn't seem like it'll be anytime soon though.
Sakura House on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 27, 2012

Love and life

Are you ready for a long, thought filling post? If you're not, then, it's best to click the little 'x' at the top right corner. If not, buckle up... I wanted to update my blog and as usual, my thoughts aren't exactly coherently organised. So, do bear with me. 

Each and everyone of us love and crave to be loved. However, due to human nature, we tend to complicate everything, even love. 

If one is in a happy and non-complicated relationship, it eventually bores them with the lack of thrills and excitement. 

On the other hand, being in a volatile relationship can be disastrous and scarring for ones mental mind eventually leading to the inevitable separation of both parties.

Some people are fortunate to meet their soul mates in their partner. Most often, we don't. I think ideally, it is great to be with a partner who understands, empathises and inspires, if not, at least, bring out the better side in you.

Mr. C and I, unfortunately, don't seem to be either of those. Despite that  coupled with our differences and incompatibilities, our relationship somehow works. And that is reality. Not Prince Charming, not Mr. Right. Those two gentlemen and happy endings that we see in Hollywood movies just aren't the realities of our world. 

BUT if you do so happen to have at least one of those three 'dreams', then good on you! Treasure what you have and don't wait to lose it to only realise the full depths of your loss.

In every boy girl relationship, even with similarities, there are bound to be differences. The magnitude of the differences and how one handles it determines the fate of the relationship. I reckon, when one is young ie teens or uni years, one may lack the maturity and life experience to handle situations well.

When we learn to accept and overcome arguments, situations and whatever obstacles life throws at us (sometimes, we are the guilty party putting ourselves in that position), it builds our character, who we are. 

If one has a pretty smooth sailing life with few worries, stress or tension, it doesn't mean that person lacks character. One just may not be as well equipped as someone who has been through it all.

These days, true and sincere love is hard to find. People are selfish and tend to think of 'me, myself and I'. It's not what I can do for others but what others can do for me. If we say we love someone, do we mean it? Or is it just said in the heat of passion? 

Age old question: can we differentiate between love and lust?

Being in Australia, I noticed that sex is talked about much and in mainstream media. In movies and series, news and documentaries, the radio, it's all about sex, sex, sex. Even if you're not interested, it's pretty much in your face. The way of dressing, how people carry themselves, it oozes with sensuality.

One night stands are a norm. Divorces and separation are probably more common than healthy marriages. In fact, don't be surprised but people no longer deem it necessary to officiate and legalise their relationship in holy matrimony. 

To them, it's just a piece of paper. 

To them, why bother marrying if it limits a person. Why bother marrying if people eventually fall out of love?

I think, God really had it right. Having premarital sex is definitely not ideally. This is just my opinion. Me, thinking out loud. You may think me old school (and perhaps I am, for thinking so) but the idea of love making is just that, to create intimacy between couples. With that intimacy, it brings couples closer. 

However, when intimacy is trust upon a couple who aren't ready, then, things tend to spiral out of control. And most cases, people have sex not because of their love for one another but just because the heat of the moment. One kiss leads to another and from first base, it's next to second.

It is not the main criteria of a successful and happy relationship, that's for sure. And that is why God meant for it to be between a husband and a wife. We live in a time where the message is to 'just do it', to go with ones feelings and to hell with the consequences.

But with every decisions, choices and path we take, we inevitably have to live the consequences. 
When we are a child, our world is less complicated. Everything is black and white. Right and wrong is as clear as day and night. However, as we grow and step into adulthood, we stepped into a world full of grey areas. We justify the wrongs we do till they are right. 

Nothing is as simple as 1, 2, 3 anymore. We no longer have to contend with eat, sleep and homework only. People fall in and out of love and change partners like changing clothes. Cheating on ones partner is hardly news. 

Just yesterday, news broke about Kirsten Steward's infidelity and Robert Pattinson moving out. Anyways, I think it's between the two of them and we do not know all the facts. Besides, to err is human.

Nevertheless, I think, it will BE news if Hollywood couples can survive their first and only healthy, happy marriage that was meant to be 'until death do us apart'.

That being said, my life view used to be black and white. Cheating is wrong, no excuses. Now, I still say that cheating is wrong but I have come to realise that it often happens for a reason, if not many. 

An unhappy and unfulfilled relationship is usually the cause. But like I've said in pasts posts, people engage in promiscuity just 'cos they can and because it gives them excitement. With modern times and the many opportunities available, instead of working things out, we take the easy way out, by cheating or breaking up.

To get good returns, we must invest. To have a good career, we must invest in good education. And just like everything else in life, to have good relationship, we need to work hard. We need to invest time, effort, understanding and lots of patience.

And it never gets easier. It's constant hard work. Anything good usually requires hard, honest work. It is true that sometimes, we do fall in love with someone who isn't necessarily right for us. And at times, we end up with someone who isn't our one true love (if you believe in all that jazz) but it doesn't mean the relationship can't work out.

It only means that both parties need to decide if the other is worth the effort. I can't say it any plainer than the next image below.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gold Class experience at Jam Factory!

Quick dinner at Salsa's before the movie

Yet another long overdue post. End last month, Mr. C and I had the privileged to a Gold Class movie experience in Villlage cinema at Jam Factory in South Yarra. If you followed my tweet or plurk, you would know this was all thanks to @NuffnangAU and @RoadshowAU!

Why pay more for a Gold Class experience? Well, you get super duper comfy seats that recline for optimum comfort!! Just look at Mr. C. He was sooo comfortable that he dozed off to dreamland! KIDDING!! He definitely is a good sport, always posing for pictures knowing full well that it'll be uploaded onto my blog. ;p

A really darked and semi creepy photo of us

Lol. Everyone was happily tweeting away #NNArtistDVD and saying their thanks to @NuffnangAU and @RoadshowAU for this complimentary experience. We were given drinks each and popcorns, too! I really wished all cinemas here would serve caramel popcorns like the ones in Malaysia. Mr. C, however had no complaints finishing his and MY super salty popcorn.

Besides two drinks and popcorns, we get to take home a DVD of the show we were watching. The Artist, a silent movie in black and white. I send my copy to Malaysia to a friend who helped me a lot for my wedding and has been wanting to watch this show. 

I've been saying so much about the freebies and Gold Class experience but never did state clearly what movie was in store for us that night. We watched The Artist. I wouldn't say it was mind blowing like Inception but it definitely was different. A change. LOL. After all, it was a silent movie in black and white. Something you don't see these days.

Apparently, this movie is the winner of 5 academy awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director (Michael Hazanavicius), Best Original Score and Best Costume Design. The only actor I know in the movie is John Goodman.

This movie was set at the twilight of Hollywood's silent era and shows the story of a famous silent actor struggling with the change of new talking movies. At the same time, he met a dancer just starting out who later on took the talking picture world by storm. His wife left him when he refused to conform to talking pictures and lost his fortune investing in the making of lackluster silent movies. In the end,  the dancer proved to be his salvation.

His very devoted dog that saved his life... literally

The actor Jean Dujardin and actress, Berenice Bejo

A mixture of drama, comedy and romance that relies on images, music and the actors/actresses to make the show work. Rotten Tomatoes have given it a 98% rating. So, that itself speaks a fair bit of the show. 

All in all, Mr. C and I welcome a relaxing night out watching movies. It was like an unofficial date that someone else paid for! :)