Posts by Ames:
- 1 ½ cups (225g) self-raising flour, sifted
- ¾ cup (165g) caster (superfine) sugar
- 125g butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup (125 ml) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
- ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- cinnamon sugar
Long weekends are such a blessing. No need to rush around. Time to share with friends and time to bake :).
I was planning to bake a cake to bring to a gathering with the old high school crew but by the time I had it in the oven, it was already time to go :(. No huge issues though when you have some Honey Joys ready to go haha ;).
Anyhow, I left some instructions for my dear mother and when I returned home, the cake had come out beautifully :). Great team effort!
Apple & Blueberry Cake
adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple
(underlined parts are the changes – not many really)
- Preheat oven to 160C (325F).
- Place flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until just combined.
- Spoon the mixture into a greased 19cm springform tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Top with the apples and the blueberries.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is cooked when tested with a skewer.
- Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and then allow to cool. Serve it up!
Was very yummy and so very simple!
I know I’ll be having a slice tomorrow when I get going with the Three 4 Three Challenge ;). Would love it if you’d join in but if it’s a bit too challenging right now, if you are able to give a donation to this dream of mine that would be amazing!
Have a great Queen’s Birthday day off for those working folks ;).
Question time: What do you like to do when you have a day off?
Hey blog-o-sphere! It has been a while hasn’t it?? Despite my best of intentions and my promise at the end of the last blog post, I just couldn’t get up the motivation to blog, even though there is potentially lots to write about!
However, instead of spending half this blog post apologising for my absence, I’d like to introduce you to a new project that I’m working on called the ”Three 4 Three” Challenge!
Now that I do have the challenge all up and going, hopefully it means more time to blog over in this space. I’d often come here to blog but then feel that perhaps I probably should be working on the project rather than blogging here… but no promises! We’ll see how things pan out :). Hope those in Melbourne and other states (except WA!) have a great long weekend ;).
I’m so looking forward to a sleep in and some cooking/baking/reading/relaxing!
*blows off dust/cobwebs*
Anyone still out there?? I just had a look and it has been over a MONTH since I last blogged here!! I think that has been the longest break I’ve taken from blogging without informing the readers about it and for that, I do apologise! Though, it’s not like the world has stopped turning lol. People still eat/cook/enjoy good food and do their own merry thing (well, I hope you have been!). Still, I feel like I need to be accountable to this blogspace for my absence.
In the midst of adjusting to full-time hours and on top of all the weekly commitments I try to juggle, I’ve been frantically trying to meet some other accountability requirements.
The story really goes back a few years. For my 21st birthday, against all the legal advice I had been given about how much it would cost and how much time it would require to maintain it over the years (what do lawyers know, right?) I decided to launched my own charitable trust – the VHAN Hope and Opportunity Fund (“Fund”).
The conception of this Fund lies in the generosity that I received through the funding of my high school education via the Violet Hall Trust. I am forever grateful for the opportunities and experiences I was given as a beneficiary of the Trust and I wanted to be able to do the same for other individuals in the future – in essence, pay it forward (essentially this is a scholarship fund).
The legal work necessary to establish the Fund was all paid for thanks to the generosity of friends and family like yourselves but throughout the last 3 years, whilst completing my law degree, I had very limited time to do much else for the Fund except keep it afloat i.e. keep Consumer Affairs and the tax office happy by meeting statutory reporting requirements.
A requirement (which I’ve had to deal with lately) was to get our books audited; this was frankly quite daunting for me because of the money I envisioned it costing. But thankfully, we were able to engage the same accounting firm that had handled the financial records of the Violet Hall Trust and because of the prior understanding and working relationship, costs were reserved for the time being.
However, this has given me a wake up call. Now that my uni days are behind me, it’s the season to devote more time and effort to the Fund so that it can begin full operations in the years to come.
So… as some of you would be aware through the other social networks I frequent, I recently turned the ripe old age of TWENTY FOUR and as a result, I have started my 24th Birthyear Campaign! :D The ultimate goal is to, through various fundraising avenues, raise $10,000 by the time I turn 1/4 of a century ;).
In reality this is a long, long, long-term project. For the Fund to be self-sustaining and perpetual, there will need to be at least $100,000 invested. $100,000 seems almost unreachable right now so I think smaller targets are the way to go. The immediate short-term goal is to get enough funds together so that the money can start accruing interest in its bank account. Hence, I present…
Phase 1: Raise $1000.00 for the VHAN Hope & Opportunity Trust Fund
in ONE MONTH from my 24th birthday (13 April)
I’ve been astounded by the generosity of friends and family as I’ve almost reached my target but we are about $150.00 off so… I thought I would open it up to the blog audience and others friends who have made pledges to donate but have yet to do so ^^.
SO, if you would like to lend a little support (every little bit counts!), donations can be made to:
Account Name: VHAN HOPE AND OPPORTUNITY INC IN TRUST FOR VHAN HOPE AND OPPORTUNITY FUND
Account number: 11042408
- Please put your first initial and surname, eg “JSmith” in the Description
- Donations ARE tax-deductible in Australia – yay!
- If you would like a receipt please e-mail me (email@example.com)
An official website for the Fund is in the works and I plan to get back into blogging ASAP so please also stay tuned for what I hope will be permanent return to the blogging sphere :).
Thanks for all your support thus far!
P.S. If you are overseas and want to donate, you can do so via this PayPal link (though note there is a transaction fee of 2.4% + $0.30AUD with every transfer, therefore it is strongly suggested that you donate through net-banking where possible or you can find me in person for cash donations ^^).
Sometimes you can come across a gem by accident.
Two weeks ago, I had training for lawyer skills such as client interviews, letter writing, negotiating and advocacy. We were also fed us very, very well by the training institute. This had both pluses and minuses. Plus – lunch was provided, saving some money lol. Minus – I’m still trying to get rid of the food baby that developed that week :P.
Plus – we were located on Little Bourke St. Minus – the day that I intended to go early to grab a bite beforehand, it was raining cats and dogs!
I found a bit of shelter at a café I had spied the day before and decided to make it my choice for breakfast. The thing that attracted me was the Toby’s Estate name that I saw outside:
But before anyone gets too excited, the infamous Toby’s Estate from Sydney has not opened up a branch in Melbourne – however, their coffee beans has definitely made it over to Settebello, a modern little café on the corner of Hardware Lane and Little Bourke St.
On this occasion, I decided against the caffeine as I also had to handle an umbrella along with my books and bag! Instead, my attention was drawn to the display cabinet:
I really liked the simplicity of the display – less was definitely more in this instance.
I decided on the lighter egg, mushroom and cheese Breakfast Sandwich ($7.50) which I took back to the training centre to munch on before class.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this delicious and filling breakfast. Juicy and beautifully seasoned mushrooms, fresh crunchy lettuce (they must have toasted it and then put the lettuce on because it wasn’t soggy at all!), sweet fried onion with a fried egg sandwiched between two perfectly toasted pieces of focaccia bread :). The only thing that I wish had been different was that didn’t scoff it down in less than 10 mins lol. I didn’t want to be sitting outside the room too long ;).
I’d love to visit again if I wasn’t in such a rush – perhaps a good place to visit over the long weekend? :P
50 Hardware Lane
Have a Happy Labour Day, Melbournians!
Question: What are you doing this long weekend?
About a month ago, one of the lovely ladies from church helped stock up our fridge and freezer with goods so that my mum wouldn’t have to do as much grocery shopping while my dad was overseas. How kind :). However, a few days ago, we had a dilemma.
There wasn’t enough room in the freezer! #firstworldproblems
One of the things she had bought for us was a 1 kg pack of blueberries that we hadn’t really had a chance to open up yet so while the blueberries were thawing in the fridge below, I posted up a question on Facebook where I was given a number of suggestions as to what to do with them:
As the title of this posts suggests, I made myself a blueberry smoothie! :)
Very simple and a great energy booster after a long day at work!
Frozen Blueberry Smoothie
adapted from Taste.com.au
Serve = 1 glass
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbs yoghurt (first time I made it we didn’t have yoghurt in the house so I used a scoop of ice-cream hehe)
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tbs flaxseed meal
- Place all ingredients in the jug of a blender. Blend until smooth and thick. Pour into a serving glass and serve immediately.
Note: obviously this is not a regular blender – we had one of the bullet thingy that we bought ages ago off a tv infomercial :P
Make sure you check your teeth in the mirror afterwards as there’s bound to be bits of blueberries everywhere haha
Enjoy! Have a great week everyone :).
Question time: What would you make with 1kg of blueberries?
Melbourne is definitely spoilt when it comes to dumplings.
Being out of the foodie-loop for a while means that I wasn’t even aware that another dumpling joint had opened up a number of weeks ago until Libby suggested ShanDong Mama as a post-work catch/meet-up spot with Winston and Dave. Poor Daisy was sick so couldn’t make it but there will be next times I’m sure ;).
After walking in the wrong direction (it happens), I found a guy who I assumed was theragingcook aka Dave. After confirming his identity (lol), we headed in to peruse the menus as the others were running a bit late.
(I unfortunately forgot my camera at home so these are just for the ol’Samsung Galaxy S2)
No photos of the drinks but you should definitely check out Dave’s 8 Treasure Tea - very pretty but a bit too hot on a warm summer night!
Libby soon arrived and helped out with the orders. It’s always nice to eat out with fellow foodies coz we’re all on the same wave length about trying a bit of everything :).
None of us had really done our research but we knew dumplings were a must! It did seem appropriate to have at least one dish of a different variety though. We decided to try the noodles with shredded port, egg and seasonal vegetables in sesame sauce.
First thoughts were that it looked a bit like the Korean bibimbap. Presentation? Probably 7/10. Flavour? It was a bit bland and tasted a lot better once I added a bit of soya sauce so probably 6/10 (Oh dear, I think I’ve watched too much MKR).
Then it was onto the main event:
The pork dumplings were definitely the favourite of the night! Juicy and perfectly balanced flavours, it was the sure winner!
The Melbourne dumplings were interesting… a combination of diced seafood (prawn, calamari, mussels, fish) and chicken mince, lemon rind, olive oil, parsley and garlic – it was Mama’s new contemporary recipe inspired by Australian multicultural food scene. I thought of the lemon rind was very clever and made it something different and quite enjoyable.
The Mackerel dumplings were pretty good too but I think I’ll have a better appreciation of them now that I’ve watched this video :).
It is a bit hard to find as it isn’t visible from street so just look out for the [200 Bourke St] sign outside the arcade in which it is located!
Shop 7, 200 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Question: Do you like your dumplings fried or boiled?
How does one begin a blog post after such a long absence? Just do it, I guess haha
What started out as just an idea, grew into a plan and soon enough a blog-free January seemed like the right thing to do. I was starting my new job and I just wanted to rest up as much as possible before I lost my extended holidays for good. However, if I was being real and honest to myself and to you as readers, one of the main reasons for my extended blog break was I just didn’t enjoy it very much anymore.
Perhaps it was my perfectionist tendencies to labour over each photo and edit and re-edit posts.
Perhaps I cared too much about what people thought of me when they read my blog.
Perhaps it was just the end of a massive year and I just needed time to recharge.
Perhaps it could have been a lot of other things but I recognised that blogging had started to become more of a chore for me and as selfish as it sounds, I wasn’t writing for myself anymore. If we drill down a bit further, I was letting my blog consume and define me and it wasn’t healthy.
So blogging was left to the side and real life continued. Adjusting to full-time work has probably been the biggest challenge lately but I am truly blessed to be working with such a great team of people who have been really supportive and helping me settle in. Yesterday marked my first month with the firm and I can see that I am starting to feel more at home now :).
Working day in, day out has also made me realise that I need to make time to do things for myself. Catching up with friends over lunch and dinners has been great but being an introvert, it does take a fair bit out of me and with ministry taking up most of the weekend, there’s not much left in the reserves after working from 9am-5:30pm, 5 days a week.
So I guess this is where blogging has its place. I do miss writing and it’s something that I want to start doing again but with the right motivations. It does mean that my writing style and frequency may change; change isn’t always a bad thing :). CNY and eating out in the city in between and after work has also added fuel to the fire so to speak ;). Hope you’ll continue on this journey with me – if not, I wish you well and will keep writing about the things that motivate, excite and inspire me.
Is it just me or has the end of 2012 caught anyone else by surprise?
I guess this feeling must be due to the year being really jam-packed all the way up until the very end. So much so, that I feel like I need a few days to just ease into 2013 because I haven’t fully recovered from the flurry of activity that I jumped into straight after exams haha.
Having said that, it’s always good to sit back and reflect on just how much was achieved in these last 12 months. The ones that come to mind (and I’m sure you’d be familiar with them if you’ve been reading this blog recently so please bear with me):
- converted… to Android!
- made SOY chai latte my go-to drink
- became an Instagrammer
- got a new blog domain!
- got a traineeship for 2013 (I start in TWO weeks! Craziness!)
- became a Compassion sponsor mum :)
- finished and graduated from my law degree (still in awe)
- travelled by myself for the first time to SG and HK (the best!)
- started to grow out my hair again :P
- made gingerbread not once but THREE times in two weeks!
…and that’s only off the top of my head :P
It has been a massive year and I’ve been supremely blessed to share it with some amazing people. At least on the foodie blog circuit, it’s been great to graduate from “comment-buddies” to “real-life-friends” with a few folks like Winston, Vien, Daisy and Sophie ;).
As to resolutions, I know one will be to cook more often and bring lunch to work at least 3 out of 5 days (hopefully). I think I’ve definitely been in the kitchen a lot more this year and here are my top three favourites that have made it onto the blog:
So on that note, I’d like to share one final recipe before the year is out. It’s one I think I’ll be cooking a few more times in 2013 because it’s so simple, delicious and a crowd-pleaser!
Chicken with haloumi and honey
Serves 2 (I made this for 3 so just I just added an extra half of these measurements)
- 2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed
- 150 g haloumi, cut into thick eatable slices
- 1 tablespoon shredded lemon zest
- 6 sprigs of lemon thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- rocket, cherry tomatoes and walnut salad, to serve
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Place the chicken haloumi, zest and lemon thyme in a ceramic baking dish.
- Combine the oil and honey and pour over.
- Bake for 18-20 mins or until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with rocket, cherry tomatoes and walnut salad.
- Next time, I’d probably make sure that the chicken breast fillets were all the same size so that cooked more evenly – had to put a few slices in the microwave to just make sure it was cooked completely!
- DH suggested a fig and rocket salad but I could not find fresh figs and any at all the stores I went to so substituted cherry tomatoes instead – still very good!
That’s a wrap, folks! I’m still toying with the idea of taking a break from blogging in January – there’s just a lot of things to do to get real-life in order at the moment. While not posting for a while, I’ll try to build up some new content ready to go when I do come around these parts again. For now, take care and HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE!!
Random Question: What are your new year’s resolutions for 2013?
SINGAPORE Day 1.2
SG Day 1.1 can be found here.
After receiving my first ever manicure and pedicure (that’s what holidays are for, no?), we took a taxi to the hawker centre on Old Airport Road. For the first-time traveller to Singapore, hawker centres are a must! Set up in a food court type setting, you’ll soon discover (as I did) the delicious local dishes of the country and for a fraction of the price of any meal you’d get back in Australia – and more tasty too!
…before she sat me down to order some sugarcane drinks and she went off to put down a few more orders!
These sugarcane drinks were so refreshing and of course very cheap too (though I cannot for the life of me remember the price – they don’t give out receipts haha). I was also fascinated about how there are people who wander around with a money pouch; you tell them what you want to order, pay them, and then they bring it back! Now that I think about it, I guess it’s just like a waiter in a restaurant but in an open-air context, it seemed really novel for me :P.
Ange came back with LOTSA soya bean curd!! lol, but don’t worry, we didn’t eat it all, it was for her cell group later on haha. Here’s what was for dinner:
Prawn Mee: SO GOOD! I liked how they cut the prawns in half – made it much easier to eat. Soup was full of flavour and noodles cooked just right!
Wonton and Char Siu Mee: Loved it. I think I am more of a dry noodles kinda fan so this suited me well :). Wontons were a lot smaller than we get in restaurants back in Melbourne but I’ve been told that this is how they used to make it traditionally. I didn’t drink much of the soup – MSG concern lol.
SATAY SKEWERS!!!: SO. SO. SO. GOOD. I think Ange got half chicken and half pork… man, I am lost for words for how amazing this tasted. It came with a few pieces of cucumber and its own bag of satay to dip the meat in…
And what added to the awesomeness factor was how unbelievable CHEAP this all was! Easily under $10 AUS per head and we were feeling very full afterwards.
Oh and what became of the soya bean curd?
Apparently the soya bean curd from Lao Ban and 51 Soya Bean are slightly different in taste but it wasn’t as obvious to me so if you get a chance try both :D.
Usually the eating ends with dinner but as I soon discovered, 10pm is still considered early in Singapore so why not go out for supper, yo?? :P
We headed out to one of the Crystal Jade‘s in town to have some dim sum…
The standout was definitely these salted egg custard baos! Firstly, never seem them this colour and then…
…liquid gold!! :D Now this is something that definitely hasn’t made it over to Aust in its traditional form. The colour isn’t as evident against the orange casing but tasted SO GOOD *happy sigh*.
Was a lovely end to Day 1 in SG :).
*Disclaimer: All food reviews are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality at the time of visit. I am merely a lover of food and by no means a food expert!
Coming up: More hawker centres and the first of my hipster café visits :P.
Have a great weekend!
Shall we begin with a vlog?
Yes, we shall!
Please skip if you’d rather avoid randomness and just get on with the food :D.
SINGAPORE Day 1.1
(because these was SO MUCH food that Day 1 has two parts!)
Note: Cost of food noted is in SG Dollars.
After some much-needed beauty sleep, Ange and I headed out to hunt down a few items to make SG more accessible for me (i.e. a MRT card). On the way we passed by a place that I’d been told I should most definitely try while in SG…
My friend, May, pronounced Koi Café much better than any place we had in Melbourne so I decided to give it a go.
Ange suggested I get the original milk tea with the addition of ice-cream – hard to go wrong when there’s ice-cream involved lol! Given that I wasn’t quite used to the humidity of SG, this drink was a cool relief as we continued the search for an elusive pre-paid sim card (each stall we tried seemed to be sold out!).
Once we got that sorted, it was time for lunch! On the flight from Melb – Darwin, I sat between two lovely girls who were on their way to SG too and when I asked them for food suggestions, they both said to try Boon Tong Kee’s famous chicken rice! Ange hadn’t tried it before but that became our first proper food destination of Day 1!
The Boon Tong Kee brand has been around in SG for over two decades now and has a number of branches. We went to the Balestier branch, the first restaurant that opened in 1983. When we arrived, it wasn’t very crowded yet (the above photo was taken after we’d finished our meal) – I guess 12pm was still quite early for lunch…
The menu was good because it had pictures haha (sorry, didn’t take any photos of the inside of the menu!). Once we’d placed our order, we were given a plate of salted peanuts to munch on in the meantime. They were alright but unfortunately, Ange’s suspicions were confirmed – these were not for free lol ($2.00).
This probably wasn’t the best angle to take the photo of the chicken from but let me tell you we were very ready to stuff our faces haha. Ten points for presentation (loved the addition of the purple orchid) but sadly, it rated a bit less in the taste department. Maybe it was because our expectations had been too high, but I personally felt that the chicken was a bit bland for my liking and didn’t seem quite worth the $10.00 we paid for it. Perhaps the issue was that we should have chosen not just the chicken but with the special rice cooked in chicken stock that goes with it as well? I felt that the chicken rice I had at Changi airport on the way back seemed much better and value for money ($5.00!) in comparison.
We decided to get some vegies to go with the chicken and I have to say that this dish actually outshone the main event. Where the chicken lacked flavour, the stuffed beancurd and eggplant ($18.00) packed the punch. This was by far the better dish of the day for me. I loved the sauce that they used and eggplant is a favourite for me, no matter how it is cooked :P.
We also had plain rice to go with the dishes (50 cents each) and Ange had a barley drink ($2.00) and I had a chinese tea ($1.50) to go with it.
Damage done including taxes was $40.30 SG which is currently about $32.57 AUD. Not too bad but not as cheap as some of the other places we went to afterwards.
See ladyironchef (a pretty prolific and well-known SG food blogger) for further thoughts on Boon Tong Kee’s chicken rice.
Moving on after lunch, I was introduced to Orchard Road and we did a bit retail therapy. We must have done a fair amount of walking around as soon it was for afternoon tea :P.
Kaya toast was on the list of to-eats so having seen Ya Kun Kaya Toast almost everywhere, this seemed like a good choice. Established in the 1940s, Ya Kun Kaya Toast has developed a reputation for “unparalleled kaya toast and irresistibly fragrant coffee and tea, enjoyed amidst a cosy atmosphere.” – from their website.
We went for a kaya toast set each consisting of kaya toast, soft boiled eggs and a beverage of our choice. What was most interesting for me was how thin and brown the toast was! Since Killiney Kopitiam opened on Lygon St earlier this year, I’ve had their kaya toast at least twice (cheap cheap!) and it looked nothing like this! Also, I liked how they only had two thin slice of butter between the bread – I always feel slightly grossed out biting into the block of butter that Killiney put on their kaya toast. Didn’t take notes for exact prices but it was pretty cheap from recollection. Definitely a good place to stop by if you are after something to carry you over until the next main meal :).
And we made it halfway through Day 1, hooray! :D Three things ticked off the list!
Coming up: dinner and supper on Day 1 – hawker food and dim sum… mmm.
Question from vlog: What was your favourite (or perhaps most memorable) gift/moment of this past Christmas season?