Christmas Wishes

Saturday, December 22, 2012

MC Senior and Junior has a little fun with icing and sprinkles

All to soon we're almost at 2013!  We'll be spending Christmas with family in Malaysia, then spending some time in Sydney after that. I hope to be back and blogging again soon but before I leave, here's wishing all of you a festive season filled with love, light and hope.

Take care and see you soon.

 Scenes from Orchard Road in Singapore which is decorated lavishly with lights this time of year.

 And no, I have no idea what Jelly Babies have to do with the season either.

Muhibbah Malaysian Monday 97*: Feeling corny

Thursday, December 13, 2012

* (more like Tardy Thursday but you know I mean well)

So, you know how much I love corn right? How can I not? It's such a versatile cereal and works well in both savoury food and desserts. Besides,  puns just wouldn't be the same without a pinch of corny ;)

By now, you've guessed what today's star ingredient is. There's really not that much to this dessert, just some corn kernels, sago (tapioca) pearls, sugar, water and coconut milk. It's quick, simple and satisfying. I’d actually forgotten all about this sweet soup until we moved back to Asia and spotted versions of this in food courts around the place.  I think there are actually two versions of this type of corn “sweet soup”. The one I made follows the Malay style. The Chinese version doesn’t use coconut milk but has either swirled egg (like an egg drop soup) or bean curd skin instead. The ingredient list gets odder and odder doesn’t it?

Well, if you can brave vegetables in your dessert, then have a go at making it yourself. There’s no real recipe, just some measurements. I used about 1 cup of cooked corn kernels which were leftovers from another meal. You could use fresh kernels or even canned whole kernels or a mix of whole and creamed corn. If using fresh kernels, boil about 4-6 cups of water, add the kernels (you can add more kernels if you like lots of corn) and boil until the corn is cooked. If using pre-cooked kernels, just boil for a minute or so.  Then add about 1/4 cup of washed tapioca pearls which have been soaked in water for about 10 minutes (drain the water before adding to soup). Boil until the sago is just translucent, there might be a tiny dot of white still in the center of the sago pearl. Add sugar to taste (I used about 6 tablespoons to 4 cups water which made a not-very-sweet soup, so add as much or as little as you prefer), stir until the sugar dissolves.

 Then you can either add some thick coconut milk to the hot soup, stir and remove from the heat, or do as I do, remove the soup from the heat and only add the coconut milk in before serving.  I usually add a pinch of salt to the coconut milk too. All these measurements are approximate and really depend on your taste. If you like a thick soup, add a bit more sago or use less water. If you like it really creamy, add lots of coconut milk. The choice is yours.

So, thanks for reading, sorry for the short post, and as you can see, MMM is still happening. As mentioned before, Suresh from 3 Hungry Tummies will be hosting the next round-up but because it’s that busy time of year again, he will compile both November and December entries in one hit. So do drop him a line at sureshchong(at)yahoo(dot)com and the round up will be posted in January.

Bye! Do pop by ear soon ;)

It’s a jungle out there!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Must be December :)

How have you been my dear ever-patient readers? As usual, pardon the tardy rate of blogging, but I’m aiming for quality vs. quantity. Good excuse right?

Actually, we’ve been away travelling and I’d love to share that post with you soon, but meanwhile, here are some highlights from MC Junior’s recent birthday party. The little missy turned 6 and insisted on inviting everyone in her class, so we needed a gender neutral theme. I’m not quite sure how we decided on a jungle theme but it was easy to throw together in the limited time frame we had. Win!

As usual, the cake was an important part of the decision making process. Sometimes I’m given free reign, but this time we surfed the net together and she fell in love with pics of jungly cakes that had waterfalls and animals on them. One jungle/waterfall/ animal cake coming right up.

It wasn’t too hard to put together, but the heat and humidity here in Singapore really caused me some grief - melty ganache and sticky fondant. I ended up taking the finished cake (in a covered cake dome) into the bedroom overnight so that it could sit in the air-conditioning and survive until the party.

We decorated with some large leaves and “jungle vines”. The vines were inspired by Pinterest. If you google paper jungle vines, you’ll find instructions. Those vines are quite fiddly, I simplified them by just using a roll of brown paper cut into strips and stapled leaf shapes onto the “curled” strips.  Luckily, I had visitors staying with us who provided slave labour in making the vines. What? We provided room and board and excellent working conditions :)

Mr. Kitchen Hand gamely got into the act, as he does for every one of the girls’ parties.

We  started the party with a simple craft, I put out large wooden beads (brown, orange, yellow and red) and twine and the kids made themselves jungle necklaces or bracelets. It was a great way to entertain the kids while we waited for everyone to arrive. Even the boys got into it.

(It's not very clear in the photo but I wrote the words Animal Feed on the brown paper bags and filled the bags with animal crackers and goldfish crackers.)

For the food, we had animal crackers, goldfish crackers and a big bunch of bananas to start (very appropriate since the invitation said “Go Bananas”) We also had a Watermelon echidna. Isn’t it cute? I saw him on Pinterest and found instructions here. (Took me a while to get into it but I love finding inspiration on Pinterest. Twitter on the other hand, I just can’t get into.)

After some games, we put food out for the herbivores and omnivores. The herbivore section had Swamp dip (Avocado + lemon juice + salt), corn chips and Rabbit food (Vege sticks), and the fruit. The omnivore section contained quicksand quiches (bacon,onion, peas), surprise pizza snakes and Zebra sandwiches (Vegemite sandwiches cut into thirds and laid on their side). I used Neil Perry’s pizza dough recipe and stuffed the snakes with tomato paste, ham and cheese. I must have overstuffed them because quite a few of them exploded. Never mind, they tasted great anyway. I also tried to give them colourful stripes like this clever person did, but I mustn’t  have used enough food colouring and the stripes were very pale.

Paper cups with leaf name tags so the kids could find their own cups.

 For the games, we pretended that they were actually attending a junior ranger training camp instead of a birthday party, so the games were “training exercises”. It was a simple way to re-tweak old favourites. For example, we said we had to test their listening skills so we played “Senior Ranger Says” instead of Simon Says.

Then we tested their ability to identify animals by handing out pictures of animals to each child. They couldn’t show their cards to anyone else. At a given signal, they all had to make the noise of their given animal and find themselves the person holding the matching card. It was loud but a great hit! We played this game a few more times, and during the last turn, Mr. Kitchen Hand had them totally silent and acting out their animals instead. They got right into it, there were snakes slithering on the floor, (silently) roaring lions and frantically flapping owls. Very cute.

We also had a “feed the dangerous animals” game (tossing “food” through an animal head cut-out), animal “rescue” (hunt for little toy animals), and a hand-eye coordination “test” involving party blowers and bubbles. Of course, they all passed training with flying colours, so we did the Jungle Boogie (a version of Musical Statues) and our full-fledged Ranger MC Senior taught the trainees a “secret”  ranger song. She re-jigged the Llama Song with birthday appropriate lyrics :).

Then it was time for cake! We had Snake Pit Jelly (Jello with lolly snakes in them) and caramello koalas to go with the cake. I was very restrained this year, making only a few types of food but lots of it. We were heading off on holiday the next day and I didn’t want too many leftovers. Plus, the party was held mid-morning and most kids would be going off to lunch anyway.

As the guests left, I handed out brown paper bags with some animal print paper stapled to the top. The guests received some animal themed lollies, an animal paw print eraser and a hand-made felt animal puppet.

Thanks for joining us, we hope you had a wild time! Enjoy the weekend and I should have my act together enough to post for  Malaysian Monday.