Saturday, July 7, 2012

Egg Tarts ... Cheater's Version

When overseas, we always crave for home food. Egg tart is one of the food we miss. It's one food item which everyone in the family misses. Hence, when I saw this recipe (cheater's version) at Christine's, I was more than happy to give it a try!

I had baked these egg tarts a couple of times. The first time, I had used Filo Pastry. The egg custard  tasted good, but the base of the tart is a far cry from what we are used to having. It's kind of strange to have a "popiah" kind of bsase for an egg tart! Still, we are not overly picker eaters, so we were happy to have a taste of home.

One day, I had a leftover piece of puff pastry. I decided I should try baking egg tarts using puff pastry instead of filo pastry. Ok, the pastry puffed so much that the egg custard was hardly visible. But we definitely prefer the puff pastry base as compared to the filo base!

Ingredients for egg custard:

100ml     Whipping Cream
75ml       Milk @ room temperature
40g         Castor Sugar
2             Egg Yolks
2.5 tsp     Cake Flour


  • In a saucepan, mix cream with milk. Add sugar.
  • Under low heat, stir till sugar dissolves. 
  • Let cool completely. 
  • Stir in egg yolks and flour. Combine well.
  • Drain through a sieve and set aside. 

Preparing the base with Puff Pastry :

  • Thaw the puff pastry as per the instructions on the box.
  • Cut into squares. 
  • Using a rolling pin, flatten each square as much as you can.

  • Place each "stretched" piece of puff pastry into the muffin pan.
  • Make sure the pastry covers the rim, or the liquid custard will overflow and go under the pastry. 
  • When done covering the muffin pan with the puff pastry, pour the egg custard mixture over.
  • Fill each muffin hole to half or slightly more. 
  • When overfilled, the custard will take a longer time to cook, and the pastry base may be burnt by the time the custard is baked. 

This recipe yields a soft custard centre. The egg custard goes very well with the soft, puffy base, and especially so when served warm. My boy saw me typing this post and asked me "When are you making egg tarts again?". Soon, my dear, when the heat wave is over. Mom is not even cooking in this heat! To bake in the tiny kitchen will be suicidal.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Love for Basketball

Hubby is a fan of the NBA Games. He will faithfully follow the games every season. So what is staying in the woods without a visit to the game centre to catch at least one NBA game? For this season, we could either catch the New York Knicks in Chicago (against the Chicago Bulls), or in Milwaukee, against the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee is definitely nearer for us than Chicago. The thought of getting through the traffic mess in Chicago is enough to put us off, not to mention having to pay more for the tickets.

So off we went, on a Friday afternoon, immediately after picking the kids up from school. The kids were excited about going to watch a NBA LIVE game. The little one even said "I'm going to make a poster for the Milwaukee Bucks! I'm supporting the Bucks since Pa is supporting Knicks!".

Getting to Bradley Centre was not as bad as we thought, although there was a long line of cars trying to get into the car parks. I was very glad that Hubby had the foresight to purchase a parking coupon in advance. Even though we were there on time, the car park was almost filled. We had to go all the way to the topmost floor to park.

Hubby bought tickets for seats at the section behind the Knicks. Fans of Knicks were cheering loudly for their team throughout the game. It was a treat to be able to see the players and game up close! I had a great time watching the game, although a little disappointed with the way Knicks played. At half time,  we were all wowed by the cyclists and their amazing stunts. Very impressive. And my little boy was happily holding onto the free gift he received at the entrance throughout the game ... a Brandon Jennings Bobblehead.

A little fan of Bucks cheering for his team! We left a couple of seconds before the game ended. Knicks was playing so badly, that we knew there was no chance for extra time. In a way, it was good, as it was almost 10pm, and the kids were tired and sleepy. It was almost midnight when we arrived home. A tiring but memorial day for me and the kids, as this was our very first attendance at a NBA game =D

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Although we have been in the woods for three years, this is the first time the boys put on a halloween outfit and go "Trick or Treat" with their friends! We started early at 5pm, thinking that we could end by 630pm. The boys were so happy that they wanted to go to another part of the neighbourhood. And so, we extended the fun by another hour. They sure were happy and tired the next day, since they went to bed later than usual.

While the boys and their friend were busy knocking on doors, I was busy admiring the Halloween decorations put up by the residents in our neighbourhood! I was glad to have my camera with me =D

Pumpkins! It's fun carving pumpkins! We were happy to see these pumpkins sitting on the lawn. Love the expressions on them!

Here's another cutie! Isn't it creative?
I have a friend living in another state who painted all her pumpkins ... Red, black, and yellow. Ok, rather, she got her boys to paint the pumpkins, since she's heavily pregnant. She turned the orange pumpkins into Angry Birds! And there were logs of wood for her "pumpkin" birds to sit on!

Apart from pumpkins, there were the tombstones .... here's a cute setup ...

Tombstones and pumpkins ....

We found this at the front door of an apartment ... Erh, I loved the spiderweb, but the white cloth stained with handprints was a little too much for me ... even the inside of the apartment was dimly lit ... spooky!

Facing the same apartment sat a tombstone with skulls and bones scattered around, against a backdrop of trees and sandy ground.

The boys found it thrilling and fun. And they were happy with their little pumpkin "buddies".

And they loved having their "buddies" filled with candies!

That's a almost bucket full of candies! The boys had been warned about the frequency and number of candies they can eat. Candies are not a regular item in our pantry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Horrible Math!

Heard of the series of books called "Horrible Science"? My boys love reading this series of books. Apart from the facts, they especially love the humor. On my end, I am putting together a compilation of Darling son KW's Math problems from school. I call the compilation "Horrible Math". However, there is no humor involved here. I know the teaching of Math in the woods is far from that back home, but I'm really disgusted at the way the problems are put together and the way they are being taught. If you are easily disgusted, do not continue reading. Else, let's proceed to go down the disgusting lane of Horrible Math!

Simple question, right? Find the area of the parallelogram. You know the formula to find area, you know your multiplication table, you can easily work it out. So what is the fuss about? Square Centimeters. We do not write the words when dealing with Math questions and numbers. Throughout the worksheet, I see the words "square meters" and "square feet". I'm a little disgusted, having to write down the notation throughout the worksheet and highlighting it to my son. Ok, the disgust is mild. Let's move on. Note that this is question number 3 on the worksheet.

Question Number 2 on the same page. A question that requires the students to do fraction multiplication. Did he learn that in school? No. It requires the kid to know how to convert the fractions to improper fractions, to know how to multiply, to divide, then convert from improper to proper fractions. So I had to spend some time teaching my boy all the above and let him do a few extra questions to make sure he really understood what was going on. The level of disgust definitely went up a notch. Not because I had to teach him, but I felt that the curriculum planning at school is poor!

What do you think of this? Question 4 on the same page. Yes, the kids learn lattice multiplication in school, a very different method from what they teach in Singapore schools. His teacher went through the normal way of multiplication, prior to giving them the worksheets. So the kids have a choice of using either method. Fine. But look closer. This is decimal multiplication, which they were not taught at all. So I spent another considerable amount of time revising with him two digits by two digits multiplication, followed by decimal multiplication. Level of disgust at curriculum planning and lesson planning went up at least two notches!

The final question on that page! I should be happy, right, since I'm at the last question? But no! My jaws dropped when I saw this question! I was already sitting with my boy for at least an hour, going through the worksheet, teaching him fraction and decimal multiplication. My boy was exhausted after an hour of learning and relearning new things. He is after all, a Primary 3 student if we are back in Singapore!

Looking at the question, he knew he had to do division, and he could form the equation. But when trying to divide, I could see that he was going to cry. He didn't feel good after going through questions 1 to 5. Demoralising. When you get a worksheet to do at home, you are supposed to be apply knowledge you learnt in school. Yes, and No. The depth of teaching is very shallow in school. This was when I knew I had to stop my lesson with him. "Let's just use the calculator", I told him. I am very against kids at his age using calculators, and I always remind him not to use it when doing simple calculations, since it is required by the school to have a calculator in his desk. The level of disgust is super high, but it has yet to reach its maximum ... read on ....

Looks like a simple question, right? It is, just that there is no space provided for the kids to do their working. All the teacher requires is the answer. How does the teacher check the understanding of the student when there is no working? A wrong answer could mean "No understanding, cannot do, therefore, wrong answer". It could also indicate that the kid understood the question, but a careless calculation led him to the wrong answer.

Lack of curriculum planning, lesson planning, in depth practice, and checking of the student's understanding. And that's Chapter 1 of my Horrible Math! I need a break ....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Can you see a cat above the words "BOO"?
Can you also see that the cat and the words are sitting on top of a rice skull?

Having a rice skull, complete with sunken eyes is kind of cool, isn't it?
It's not that difficult to do rice skull either. I was only half right. It was not difficult to shape the rice into a skull. But it was kind of time consuming and challenging to put in the eyes and mouth, especially if you want a cool looking skull. Mission aborted after I shaped the rice. Instead, I used my mini halloween cat cutter and cut out the cat from a slice of cheese. That was easy. Then the words "BOO". I don't see a point in "undoing" the rice skull, so I just left the cat and words on top of it. Better cute than cool, right? Lesson learnt ... don't attempt anything "cool" without doing your homework the night before!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's Make It!

Darling son YW had wanted to show how to make the windmill. I agreed and he happily went about teaching me. As my little teacher went ahead to demonstrate how to draw, cut, fold and tape, I quickly took pictures and then went back to be the good attentive student =D

Take a pice of rectangular paper. Draw two diagonal lines as shown above.

Cut along each line, halfway. There are four lines to cut.

Pick one corner of the paper. Fold the cut half towards the uncut line. Tape/glue it down at the tip only.

Go to the second corner of the paper. Do the same as before. Fold and glue.

Proceed to the third corner. Fold along the uncut line and glue the tip down.

Now the last corner! Fold it and tape it.
Start stamping, drawing or coloring!
Let the fun begin!
Let's get crafty!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Crafts

Are you ready for Halloween? I definitely am! See, I even receive a special mail from a mysterious little kid!

Darling son YW was watching "Sid, The Science Kid" on a lazy Sunday morning. This week's programme was about Halloween. Halfway through the show, I heard my little boy's footsteps as he started running up to his room, and then down, back to sit in front of the TV. I was wondering what he was up to. After the show, he came and showed me this.

Wow! No wonder he was looking for paper, pencil, and scissors!
I told him I liked it very much, and was very impressed that he learnt something interesting from the TV show.

"Do you think you can make it even more exciting?", I asked him.
And all I gave him was this set of self-inking stamps.
And he came back to me with the following ....

Ok, the one he did was without the edges being ink, and minus the stick. But I love the drawings he did after stamping ... the happy suspended in the air spider and the "scary" vampire. I asked him if he would like to make it even more interesting by having the sides of the paper inked. He had seen me done it before, and he would like to try it too. And so, I showed him and then passed him the ink to do it. Then I added a straw to the back and added a black ribbon.

The final product! He was so pleased with it that he wanted to show me how make it! All over again! Kids can be so creative. One will be amazed at what they can come up with when one let go and let them explore!

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