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Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

I’ve been itching to bake a classic Japanese strawberry shortcake for the longest time but did not quite find the courage to take on the challenge. I have an unexplained fear for anything that require too much whipping, whether it is meringue or cream. I am sure there are tons of other more difficult baking techniques out there that I had no idea of but to a novice home baker like me, light airy sponge cake comes a close second to chiffon cake in the difficulty department. Moreover, leavening agents are typically not used in a classic sponge cake recipe, so the rising depends entirely on how well you mastered the art of beating and folding. Now, I’ve tried making a roll cake that uses a similar sponge cake recipe once before while residing in Japan. It turned out way too hard for rolling and heck it wasn’t even nice eating on its own! Suffice to say, that was my one and last attempt at sponge cake of any sort.

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Some 7 years and a second bump later–both times it happened so I am attributing this recent insatiable need for baking to my being pregnant–i finally plucked up the courage to give it a go. I scoured the Internet for recipes and watched this video countless times before getting started. Overall, for a first attempt, the sponge cake turned out relatively well though I suspect I might have over whipped the cream as it turned out “grainier” than I would have like. What I had not expected however was what a nightmare it was trying to frost a cake with fresh cream in our weather! Both cake and I were literally sweating as I hurried to lather on the cream. Halfway through I even had to pop a half frosted cake back into the fridge for a while to salvage a dire situation.

So yes, I can finally say I baked a strawberry shortcake from scratch. I will likely give it a second try but instead of using a 7″ cake tin and having to bake twice as it yielded a flatter sponge cake, I’d invest in a taller 6″ tin and slice the cake into half hence saving myself the extra step the next time.

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Every 5th May

Every 5th May, we gather to celebrate the most important woman in our lives. Sometimes in the comfort of home, sometimes outside but always with lots of cheer and merriment, a good cake, plenty of candles and Happy Birthday song in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. This year is no exception.

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Ever since my first foray into tart making, I decided we should never part with our hard earned money for another store bought one, ever again. After obtaining approval from the birthday girl to bring a homemade birthday tart this year, I got down to work. I had originally wanted to make a classic fruit tart with light pastry cream filling or a “fancier” strawberry mascarpone tart after some research, BUT the supporting male lead aka Daddy the No.1 chocolate lover requested enthusiastically for yet another chocolate-banana tart so I eventually accommodated his earnest call for ganache filling but topped it with fresh strawberry slices instead. The final touch of glazing the berries with some apricot jam gave the tart a glossy, finished look and I must say I am mighty pleased with the way it turned out. And a beautiful tart was born for a beautiful lady!

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An informal pic of my large family enjoying a good meal on a peaceful and leisurely Sunday afternoon. Love the casual yet chic interior of the restaurant, love the pops of colour from the orange juice filled mason jar and glasses of red wine sangria, love the red roses that adorned the tabletop, love the celebratory mood captured in the shot, love the people most of all. So many things, big and small, to be grateful for every single day.

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Ever the open minded and adventure seeker, Mommy decided she wanted a birthday venue surprise this year after concluding she had “no idea” what or where she wanted to eat or do. Between the four of us, we rolled our sleeves up, did a little brainstorming over the siblings watsapp chat and a quick consensus was reached for a brunch-y affair at Sabio by the Sea at Sentosa Cove. Bright, breezy, not overly crowded and plenty of open space outside to take bored and impatient young kids for a walk and play, and also importantly pretty decent Spanish fares, it was a right pick for the occasion. The birthday girl loved it!

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My little gourmet NOT. He dabbled a few spoonfuls in the yogurt, took an unceremonious bite of the pain au chocolat, swigs of orange juice and declared he was “done”. And that was before any of the main dishes were served. What eventually came to my rescue was the paella and he managed a somewhat decent meal after all. So many months of dining out with my fussy and unadventurous eater, why I should be used to this by now shouldn’t I?

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Happy Birthday to our dearest Mommy! These days it gets harder and harder for a big group shot especially when in public setting. The kids would appear in most of the shot as it is much easier to have them stay put that way while we take turns taking small families photo with the folks.

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Another sunny Singapore afternoon at the marina and someone woke up just in time for grouchy photos… :)

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I love you, I love you not- yes these two has a complicated relationship. They claim to miss one another when they do not meet for a while but yet when together, particularly when indoors and in the presence of toys, they’d get territorial and tear each other’s hair out. That day however, they decided to be best of friends! Argh… kids, don’t you just love them?

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Quick selfie under the sweltering heat before scurrying into the shelter of our car!

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Au natural petit birthday celebration on the actual day at GGPP’s place. You know, just a cake and candles and bday song and all that to humour the little people at home! ;)

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13 Years

Knowing each other for more than half of our lives, including 7 over years of courtship and 6 years of marriage in the coming October. Surely, this calls for a little toast?

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And so we had ourselves a merry little celebration at Fat Cow while the grandparents nicely babysat that evening. Here we have Yuzu fizz sans the Champagne and Grand Marnier for the lady, and Suntory premium malt for the gentleman. Kaaaanpai~!

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Starters were very refreshing momotaro “sashimi” salad in ginzer ponzu dressing and a medley of kinoko stir-fry in butter and lime. I had Grade 5 half cut 150g Saga Sirloin ( I had no idea what all these mean actually but its supposedly the leanest cut out of all the wagyu in the menu) grilled to medium well over charcoal and finished in a claypot of baked rice, seasoned with house cured salt; He had Grade 5 half cut 150g Iwate Ribeye (the gamiest cut and with the most amazing marbling, whatever that means in cow speak) grilled over binchotan charcoal, served with sudachi and salt. It was a little splurge but we purchased the Entertainer App on the recommendation of a friend and the overall savings was significant I must say.

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A little sweet treat on the house to end the night on a sweet note. 13 years and many marvelous things later, you are still the one! Happy 13th Anniversary my dear.

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Christmas Morning 2013

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The customary family shot, as well as a compulsory solo pic of DZ in his jammies on Christmas morning. These pics are my way of documenting his year-on-year growth. I asked him to stand next to the tree for a shot but he decided that he wanted to sit on the console instead. Talk about growing up and having a mind of their own! He was also quick in obliging me with a somewhat forced smile as he knew it was the fastest way he could lay his hands on the presents..

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Here he is totally engrossed in the book “Misty Island Rescue”, his favourite story from Thomas and Friends series. He absolutely loves this book so much we have to read it many times a day, so much so that he can even recite some of parts of the story now. So glad that a simple present like this made your day. Mommy wonders next year this time, what will your 3.5 yo self be into then? :)

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4 year ago after the sisters were all married and got our own places, we took turns hosting the annual year end party. Celebrating our 25 years in Singapore, it was apt and meaningful that the traditional family gathering on Christmas Eve this year was held at my parents’ place, the very same place where we first moved in 25 years ago.

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This is what a big family’s Xmas tree looked like, overflowing with tons of presents and goodies!

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Bubblies for the adults and sparkling grape juice for the kiddos. Cheers!!!

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Between Rose and myself, we came up with this year’s dinner menu. There were homemade avocado and pomegranate guacamole and salsa dip for the tortilla chips, bacon wrapped pineapple and dates for appetisers, champagne ham, 2 roasted chickens and vegetables, green salad, buttered rice with raisins and spaghetti aglio olio. Everyone had a hearty meal, except me. After all the experimenting with various roast chicken recipes, and the fact that I’ve totally lose interest and appetite for western food for the time being, eating was the last thing on my mind that evening.

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Julius’ third Christmas, Travis’ first Christmas and the gramps happy faces.

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Our one and only small family pic. Merry Christmas from the Chans!

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Pressies time for the kiddos. Another pros of having a big family is that these lucky peeps get to receive many presents from doting aunts and uncles.

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In the beginning, there were only 6 of us. 25 years later, the family size has doubled and so did the love and laughter. We are ever thankful for our parents’ decision to give us a better education and quality of life when they uprooted the whole family to Singapore more than 2 decades ago. May our loving and tight-knit family continue to grow in number and strength and may everyone stay safe and be blessed with good health. Happy 25th Anniversary to us all!

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A quick review of our busy social calendar this month.

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I was making a new batch of playdough for DZ one day when the idea to create a personalized playdough kit for his little friends came to mind. I found some cute child-sized rolling pins and sculpting tools from Art Friend, added in some cookie cutters, candles, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, ice cream sticks and colourful bento picks for creative play and wrapped them up in individual boxes. It was rather labour intensive but we managed to churn out batches of dough over several days. For my adult friends, we made some homemade muesli with the coconut oil and organic raw honey that I got from iherb. To the pile of golden oats, I added sunflower seeds, cranberries and pumpkin seeds for some festive cheer. I thought they make good gifts as these are definitely way faster to make and healthier than cookies.

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14 DEC: Play and dinner date with the Tan Tans who were back from KL for the week. I made the French classic Coq Au Vin as the inaugural dish with my newly acquired 28 inch Le Creuset french oven. It was a real pleasure to share the first meal with folks who are equally appreciative of and excited by the beauty and magic of cooking with an exquisite pot. The truth is, I couldn’t bring myself to stomach much of the red wine braised chicken that night after having cooked the same dish twice in a week but the foodie couple enjoyed the meal very much so all the effort was worth it!

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Julius enjoyed Elliot’s company so much that he was really upset when it was time for our guests to leave..

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16 DEC: Lunch with the Taiwanese mamas gang. We had roast chicken on bed of roasted vegetables, Thai mango salad and fruit agar for desserts while the kids had rice with winter melon soup, steamed broccoli and meatballs.

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21 DEC: The Yaps hosted the Boys Club dinner and it was a breakthrough gathering! For the first time ever, the adults were able to sit down at the dining table and enjoyed a proper meal. Of course it helped that we all brought along our helpers who attended to the little people while we stole some moments to eat, drink and chat. But to the boys’ credit, they were mostly well behaved and cooperative that evening. It was a heartwarming sight to see them having fun and playing well together. After all, they’ve practically known one another since birth!

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22 DEC: Farewell brunch at W39 with Ted and folks before they fly off to LA for the next 6 months. The invite to visit was super tempting but the 18 hours flight was super daunting too!

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23 DEC: Another Taiwanese mamas gathering at another place. Last few gatherings before these peeps start school officially in January!

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The tree's been out, the lights hung and mantel decorated. First batch of cookies baked and an early Christmas gift. All we need are plenty of love, laughter, cheer, family and friends to share this festive period with.

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