Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beef with Ginger and Caramelized Onions

After many attempts, I finally managed to get the beef to be tender, and the sauce to be right! The first time I tried cooking this dish, I used too much pepper. The poor boys kept drinking water and telling me "Mama, it's so hot!". The second time, I grated too much ginger, and again, the boys kept drinking water. And each time, the beef turned out to be a little tough for the kids. Good exercise for their jaws though.

But once I get the right tenderness for the beef, and the right taste without the spiceness from the pepper and ginger, the sauce is great for vegetables and a bowl of steamy hot rice. I like my dinner to be hot, especially when the pointer on the thermometer reaches the single digit on the celsius scale and the trees outside are doing their wild dance.

Adapted from : Williams-Sonoma Asian, Food Made Fast

750g Beef Tenderloin or Sirloin, cut across the grain into thin strips
5 tbsp Soy Sauce (I use Kikomann's Low Sodium Soy Sauce)
2 tbsp Rice wine/Dry Sherry (I used Red Cooking Wine)
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp Sesame oil
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Cornstarch
2 tbsp Corn or peanut oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp Ginger, grated
1 Orange or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced (optional)
1 dash Freshly ground pepper

  • Marinate the beef : Combine the beef, 1 tbsp of the soy sauce, and the wine. Mix to coat the beef evenly. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Make the sauce : Combine 4 tbsp water, the remaining 4 tbsp soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch and a dash of pepper, and stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch.
  • Heat a wok over hight heat until very hot and add 1 tbsp of oil.
  • Add the onion and bell pepper, and stir-fry until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the onion mixture to a plate.
  • Return the pan to high heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil.
  • Add ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
  • Add the beef and stir-fry until it begins to brown and is still rare in the centre.
  • Return the onion mixture to the pan.
  • Give the sauce a quick stir, add to the pan, and stir until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 seconds.
  • Sprinkle with red pepper flakes to taste, if desired.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hi Mister Piggy!

Dear Mister Piggy, I love you!
I love Sundays too!
Sunday is the day Papa gives us pocket money.

I will feed you some, and keep some in my little round box. The money in the little round box can be used to buy things that I like, like books at Borders. I am also saving up to buy Lego!

After a month of saving up, I finally have enough money to buy a Space Police set! My brother has less money, so he can only buy the Creator set. The Lego Space Police is very cool!

Mama says that if I learn my chinese words well, she will consider buying another "not so expensive" Space Police set for me and my brother! Hooray! I will make sure I study hard for my Chinese. Just recognising the chinese characters. I don't have to remember how to write them. Hmm ... I should be able to do that =)

I am eagerly waiting for Mama to start the Chinese lesson with me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Apple Crumble

What do you do when you have many apples, from an apple-picking trip? Especially when the apples are tart, not your usual Gala apples.

Yesterday, for dessert, I diced some apples, dipped in chocolate ganache, and top it with ground peanuts. Today, I used 5 big apples to make apple crumble =)

The little one at home loved it!
He had been coming to the dining table, asking for more, more and more!
Had to put a stop to it, or he would not be able to eat his dinner later.
He was happy to have it for dessert, after dinner =)

Adapted from : Williams-Sonoma Baking, Food Made Fast

2 lb, 1 kg Large tart apples such as Granny Smith
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup, Old Fashion Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup Flour
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 pinch Salt
6 tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
1/2 cup Walnuts (I used pecans), optional

  • Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish.
  • Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
  • Peel and core the apples, and slice them into a bowl.
  • Add lemon juice and granulated sugar. Toss to coat.
  • Place the apples in the prepared dish and pat them so they are level.
  • In a bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and walnuts. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and toss with a fork until evenly moistened. Cover the apples evenly with the topping.
  • Bake until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife and the topping is browned, 35 - 40 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack.
  • Spoon the crumble into bowls, top each with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, if desired, and serve.

We finished three-quarters of it by the end of the day!
What's next? Vanilla-Apple Muffins?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Daily Writing in School

Darling son YW has a Writing period in school. Every Monday, they also have a News Report. What is that? The students are required to write down what they do over the weekend.

But the boy just started Kindergarten!
Can't write? Never mind.
The idea is to get them to sound out their words, and associate the sounds with the letters, group them together and form a word. Yes, the words are not correctly spelled sometimes. That's why they have a 30-minute period for writing every day. They write words, high frequency words.

The boy came home on Monday, and told me about the very long sentence he wrote in his News Report. He said Mrs M read his News Report and told him "It was a long and good sentence.". He was very happy that day. He was very happy that he tried to write the word "University Housing". And he did pages and pages of writing, "writing a book" he called it, every day after school that week.

I only get to see his work on Friday, when he brings back his work done in school for the entire week. Can you see Mrs M's remarks on the paper? She wrote "All by himself =) ".

Now I can understand why my boy is so happy to read a book by himself, and is so eager to "write a book' . Like he said, "I'm a author".

And I am one happy reader!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spelling Test

It's been almost three weeks since school started. Darling son already had his first timed Math test. And this week, he had his first Spelling Test. The list was given to the class on Monday, and they would be tested on Friday.

I guess the spelling is good for darling son, since he is a visual learner. He has a good memory for things, and learning spelling helps him in writing.

When asked to rate how they performed for the test, darling son circled

Good work, son! And keep it up!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I had two gala apples sitting on my dinning table. My boys had say "NO" when offered an apple after school. Their reason? The apples were a little over-ripe, and not crunchy. Not wanting to waste the apples, I decided to use them to make a batch of apple cinnamon muffins. Searched the web and found the recipe from Baking Bites.

I bought a packet of Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal a while ago. Not wanting to put too much oil/butter in my bakes, I decided to try using the flaxseed meal to replace the oil required. Flaxseed meal definitely has more nutritional values than oil/butter. The ratio required is 3 portions of flaxseed meal to 1 portion of oil/butter/shortening.

2 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger (I omit this)
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg
2 tbsp Butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil (I replaced with 6 tbsp Flaxseed Meal)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Buttermilk (I used fresh milk)
1.5 cups Diced Apples

Toppings : 3 tbsp Coarse Sugar + 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  • In a large bowl, add brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  • Whisk in melted butter.
  • Alternately stir in flour mixture and buttermilk.
  • Stir in diced apples.
  • Divide batter into the prepared muffin cups. Fill to the top.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the batter.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, or till done.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Munch, Munch, Mooncakes!

When you think of Mid-Autumn Festival, you think of Mooncakes more than lanterns.

Since we were at the Asian Mart this afternoon, we couldn't resist, but to throw in a big box of mooncakes into our trolley before we checkout!

I brought a small lotus paste mooncake out to the playground for the boys and the man to share. The man and the little boy looked on jealously as the big boy stuffed a quarter of the mooncake into his mouth! They all loved eating mooncakes!

I think we will have to make another trip the Asian Mart soon ....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Homework, homework and more homework?

Sounds familiar? Not for darling son KW.

The only homework darling son KW brought home when he was in Grade 1 last term was reading. Two to three books per week. Learning new words, forming sentences, and towards the end of the term, summary writing. Darling son's reading improved tremendously. He went from not being able to read a simple book, to reading chapter books in a year! He needed help from us for writing though. As for Math, there was very little practice, after a concept was taught. No Math homework at all. I guess the problem was that the teacher with him, who was suppose to teach both English and Math, was a trained Language teacher?

Now that he is in Grade 2, things are somewhat different.

Reading and writing are two things they must do everyday. He has to write in his Home Journal every day, except Wednesday. He is allowed to borrow three library books instead of two. Writing is still a struggle for him. No wonder parents were "warned" by his home teacher of spelling tests. Although I am happy that he gets to practice writing everyday, it is a real struggle for me in getting him to do it diligently. He will always throw the question back at me and ask me what he should write. I have been telling him to write whatever he wants. Today, I got tired of answering his question and said "I don't like to write in my Home Journal because I don't know what to write.".

As for Math, he is taken out of his home class to join other students from other classes. His Math teacher, a young and humorous lady, sent out a note to parents on her very first day with the kids, informing us of timed test every Friday. Last week, darling son brought home a sample test paper. Ok, there were a total of 100 simple questions, addition within 20. The kids were supposed to complete the test in 10 minutes. When asked if he managed to complete the test in school, he told me he did three-quarters of it within the given time. Not too bad, given it was his first.

Today, he came home with a Student Math Journal. I was really surprised. This is the first time I see Math homework! He was required to do the first two pages of exercises ... Number sequence (hundreds and thousands), and money addition. He did it without me nagging at him.

Diligence in doing work is inversely proportional to the age of the teacher? Hmmm ...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wholemeal Cookies

Saw this recipe on Happy Home Baking's Blog ... Wholemeal flour is used, and I thought it is a healthier way of baking cookies than just using plain flour. These cookies were not too sweet, very crunchy, and the wholemeal flour gave the cookies a very unique flavor!

100g Butter, soften
80g Caster Sugar
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
100g Plain Flour
150g Wholemeal Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder

  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Cream butter and sugar.
  • Beat in egg and gradually add vanilla. Mix well.
  • Sift flour and baking powder over. Add wholemeal flour.
  • Fold in gently.
  • Mix and gather to form a dough. The dough will be soft.
  • Shape into a round flat disc and wrap in cling wrap.
  • Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Between sheets of paper or plastic, roll the dough to 5mm thick.
  • Cut out shapes using cookie cutters.
  • Chill the cut out dough in the fridge for a while before baking them : It prevents the dough from spreading too much during baking.
  • Dip the cookie cutters into flour to prevent the cut out dough from sticking to the cutter.
  • Bake 15 - 20 minutes.
I hope the kids will like these cookies when they come home from school later ... it will be darling son KW's snacks for school tomorrow!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Family 3

Darling son YW had nose bleed on Sunday morning. He woke up at 3.40am and cried, as he thought he had mucus flowing out of his nose, nonstop. Although it stopped bleeding after a while, it came back again in the morning, when he woke up at 830am. He had to lie in bed for another half an hour before we allowed him to get off his bed.

Although it was a lovely Sunday morning, we just stayed at home, due to his nose bleed. By afternoon, having coped up in the house for many hours, he started getting grumpy. We brought them cycling around the neighbourhood in the evening, and he was happy.

This morning, he woke up in good spirits.
I guess he felt better with no more nose bleed. And it's Monday, a school day. He just loves school. As he got up early, he sat at his table, and draw this picture "for Papa and Mama". I asked him why he used a different colour for the flowers ... "Because Mama likes flowers, so I add some flowers for you!" .... oh, so sweet of him ... and the drawing brightens my Monday morning!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Lego Boy

Ever since we brought the boys to LegoLand, they fell in love with Lego. They love playing with their creator building set, and they love surfing the Lego website.

The elder boy started drawing "lego pictures" with his ruler (instead of using freehand), while the little boy asked his gor gor to cut his fringe, so that he would look like the "lego man"! They did it behind my back and when I saw the uneven fringe, I had to trim it to very short! No wonder they ran away when I came back from the laundry room the other day!

And right now, the Lego Craze is not over ... they are putting up their wishlist for birthdays and Christmas, and are trying very hard to save more money, so that they can buy more lego sets!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bento Lunch for School

The weather has been acting strange lately. It is now the start of Autumn. It is suppose to be cool, at a high of 23C. However, the temperature has been reaching the high twenties, like 27C every day since school started. Darling son KW doesn't quite like his lunch to be steaming hot. Hence, I discard the thermal jar and put together a bento for him instead.

Rice sprinkled with furikake, blanched broccoli florets, and baked soy chicken wings. I removed the bones from the wings after baking the wings.

The boy cleaned out the lunch box during lunch, and Mom washed the empty lunch box with a smile on her face =)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Love School!

"I love school!".
"I'm exhausted".

The above sumed up how darling son YW felt for the first two days of school. School started on 1 September. He is now officially, a Kindergarten boy. He can finally be like gor gor: carry his own bag, lunch bag, and attend school, instead of walking back home with me after sending gor gor off to school.

The most exciting part for darling son YW is that he is placed in the same classroom as his gor gor last year! He also gets the same teacher, Mrs M, and some of his gor gor's friends are now his classmates! These friends are first graders, as YW is placed in a Kindergarten/Grade 1 combined class. He is indeed, very happy, to see some familiar faces on the first day of school. The familiar classroom helps in easing his worries of being in a classroom filled with many unfamiliar faces, and being alone.

"School is boring."
"I wish I could stay at home."
Darling son KW, a second grader this new term, however, is not too keen about school. His many friends last year are separated from him this term. In addition, there is homework every day, Home Journal Writing. Well, I guess he will eventually get to make new friends, and slowly (though painfully for me and him), get used to Home Journal Writing every day of the week.

With the boys out of the house, I get more time to do my own stuff ... exercising, reading a book without any interruptions, baking and cooking without having to hurry. Yeah!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Doggies!

My kids love these Horlicks Doggies Cookies. When we were back on the island called The Little Red Dot, I used to make them quite frequently. However, Horlicks is not easily available in the woods. I requested my mom to send a packet of Horlicks over, and made these cookies during the last week of summer vacation. Gosh, within a day, they were gone!

The cookies I made in the woods looked no where like the ones in the first photograph. There was no Cocoa Crunch for the ears, and I ran out of mini-chocolate chips. Just had to make do with whatever I could get from the supermarket. They looked a little different ...

13 tbsp, 180g Butter
1/2 cup, 80g Horlicks
1 3/4 cup, 200g Flour
3.5 tbsp, 25g Corn Flour
25g Milk Powder (I omit this)

Chocolate Rice For the eyes
Mini Chocolate Chips For the nose
Cocoa Crunch For the eyes

  • Preheat oven to 14oC.
  • Cream butter and horlicks.
  • Add flour, corn flour, milk powder.
  • Mix well to form a dough.
  • Chill the dough in the fridge if the dough is too soft to handle.
  • Divide the dough into balls of 10g each.
  • Bake approximately 25 minutes, or till done.

What do you say?
Woof woof?
Oink oink?
Squeak squeak?

I say ... Munch! Yummy!

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