Stepped into the world of photoshop where errors made during a series of fumbles and heat-exhausted mind cropped shots can be remedied. Is it considering cheating? Well, I shrug that notion off. Meanwhile, learning curves are twitching up the ladder. So much to learn... so little time.
In the impending wait, here are some photos sans retouching. Candids and street shots from the more then willing family. Enjoy!
messy streets of Phuket. See a ba-pok? RUN!!!
Patong beach in broad daylight. Note the rows of beach chairs for lounging. Mind you, they don't come free.
Spa haven. Did 1 full-body scrub, 2 oil massages and 2 foot refloxology sessions in a span of a week. *ahhh*
Endless feasting on seafood at every meal. It's not really that funny after a week long of squid chomping, trust me, I'm prawn phobic now.
On our way to Phi Phi Island.
I don't recall the meaning of the pose we adopted but oh well, that's a group shot for you!
Awaiting sunset at the viewpoint. It only got better after scampering over the hill halfway during the sun's glorious decent to a different location with a MUCH better view.
Nutella Crepes. Had this 2 days in a row for dessert whilst stationed on the island. Any idea where do they sell this in Spore?
My mum with that classic 'lift spectacles, dip head' position when taking photographs.
My dad probably trying to get into the driver's good books with a pat on his back and a smirk 'you're a good man... so give us a good price.' speech. Yep. What's new?
My lil brother and younger cousin whom I adore so much.
Our pathetic little waterfall which I was so enthusiastic about. sigh..
Finally at the airport after a week long trip to sunny phuket. I enjoyed it thoroughly despite having the fight off the flu bugs halfway thru the trip. Thanks Dad for planning and organising and to the rest for being such fantastic travelling partners!
To my dearest family, this trip has made me realise how much at ease I am around you all. Being myself isn't much of a problem despite my adopting of this peculiar two-face thing-a-ma-gig when I'm amongst others. It would be what you call, comfortable love. I'll be lying if I said I won't miss you all so much whilst I'm away. Well, but according to my mantra, when there's a job to be done, it has to be done. So I'll hang in there till I next see you guys again! Hope that is soon...
the view from our seats. Blocked off by the large cameras and consistent shifting of the lady photographer.
Chicken Popsicles served classic Bob Blumer style. Well, everything tastes better when it's on a stick, no?
Problems with the oven leading to a confused congregation. That's the problem you get with appliances that don't make any noise...
Fish Cakes with Pesto potato mash and beetroot infused mash. Loving the vivid colors.
And last but not least, french fries? nooo... desserts! toasted pound cake with raspberry coulis. Again, thumbs up for the wacky presentation.
Following the demonstration, I approached Bob with quivering hands. Whispering my well wishes, we parted ways, with a slight fleeting of my heart and a photo for keeps. Then I thought to myself, "I can't believe I just met Bob Blumer!". A slight delayed response with butterfly effects that lasted a pretty long time.
Food tastings in the hall outside. The psuedo 'french fries' were absolutely lip-smacking. The fish cake... I must say beared a strange resemblence to otah, even with a spicy kick to boot. All in all, masterclass with Bob Blumer was a treat for me, and I enjoyed every single moment of it as long as it lasted.
Next, stay tune for Paco Roncero's molecular gastronomy classes in the coming post!
First things first, here's a big apology to the TWD crew. I'm stained by a huge dabble of guilt having not doing my weekly baking challenges for quite some time. *groanz*. If you hear me out, I could probably churn out a long story about how being on overseas placement has deterred me from participating... but I guess that most of you won't be interested. So yeh, here's my recent revisit to TWD, a long awaited come back with the coco-nana cake as picked by Steph of Obsessed with Baking. Now who could resist freshly baked banana bread? no one. And chocolate? rhetorical question ain't it? Put them together, my mind immediately drifts to an unimaginable combustion of powerful elements, a bit like an atomic explosion, of sweet satisfactiory proportions of course.
And this story has a happy ending of course with a lovely cake from the oven that I devoured slowly over a course of a week(yes, it keeps well too!) The best part, the cake was moist, and filled with lovely bits of chocolate chips everywhere, this made such a glorious breakfast for me. yum. Thanks Steph for choosing this recipe!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute, until softened. Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled -- it's okay. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40 to 45 minutes (total baking time is between 70 to 75 minutes) or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding. Invert and cool to room temp right side up.
Laden with a muscous filled chest and some sluggish brain matter. Blame it on the jellyfish.
On retrospect, glad to be alive.
Nights are my nemesis. Tormenting and a little lonesome in all its rights.
To that special someone out there, you're always on my mind. Just for kicks, I thought you should know.
Take my time,
Take away the pressure on my mind
Really get to know you
Wanna love you in slow motion
Why can't I?
Running makes me happy. A transparent statement that carries depth in every aspect, let me indulge you.
I've long had a history of running, beginning from those days when dad had to shove tidbits of cash into my grubby pockets in gentle persuasion to get me on the tracks. You see, the logic was simple, you need a companion for your 1.6km IPPT training, pay your 10 year old daughter to pace you. And so I did. Gradually building up a stronger facade in placement of my asthma pervaded lungs, stronger legs and a steel will. Soon, I was fleeting round the tracks with dad living in a constant cloud of dust (no kidding).
In secondary school, I joined the school cross-country team and the track and field team. And running became part and parcel of my life. The endless muscle fatigue, feeling of constricted lungs; I embraced it; an oddity as I see it now. Moving on, army days saw a new level of running achievement being accomplished. Running alongside the boys, I stood my ground, only to be met with moving obstacles in my path (yes, I do bear grudges until now).
As age caught up with me, I moved on to longer distances as most athletes do. Marathon crazed, I took part in various adventure races and long distance events, only to encounter the rattling grunts of my knees below me. It dawned upon me, I was no longer young. So I took a step back and took a rest from the heavy scheduling of knee and ankle battling sessions, turning to yoga instead for recuperation means. I would like to think it worked, but in actual fact, it didn't. So, it was back to the running trainers.
These days, I still run. Morning jogs through the residential areas around the Al-Safa region (Dubai) or evening runs whilst basking in the orange glow of the setting sun. Always a new experience everyday. Whether it be battling the swooping attacks of the wannabe vultures, the strange road-direction questions I get (think speeding cars that come to a halt beside you as you make your way down the pavement) or even avoiding the demonic and sometimes quizzical stares of the Indian gardeners working the lush grass patches outside the mansions; running is always a joy and an adventure.
Some magazine reports claim that women who tend towards doing long distance runs on frequent basis have issues with their weight. Since I'm probably to get struck by lighting if I deny this, YES, I do have an issue with my weight and my body. One has got to pay her debts for all the lavish cuisines and indulges yes? Life is fair. But that's beside the point. Running just brings me to a whole different realm of elevated spirit, mediative thoughts and an open mind. In short, it makes me happy. Sometimes, that alone is enough to drive people to do crazy things.
Another object of desire that makes me happy, simply Chocolate. And not just any chocolate... gourmet chocolate! Thanks to a lovely couple, I got my hands on several bits and piece of chocolate from the legendary la maison du chocolat. Almond Praline truffles. Just amazing... I could go thru 5 of these in seating without feeling a single itch in my throat. The Cuana Bar 74%, a full flavored dark chocolate bar was good as well, with a delightful sheen and crisp bite to it. Intoxicating, the lure of chocolates.
So in the end, it all sits right. Feeling tired and not too keen on dragging out the ole jogging shoes? Have a bit of chocolate then. It all works the same way.
I've been a very bad girl.
Rewinding a week or two back, I took a quick peek into the new ultra wide fridge a few days into moving. Peering into the frosty depths of the significantly deep vacuole, my vision locked on a semi-opened container. Oh gosh...sour cream and expiring in 2 days too. Resistance was futile and soon, the mixer was at work, churning out glorious batches of velvety smooth batter before being snatched up by clumsy hands sliding it into a well-buttered bundt pan.
When the alarm chimed ( simultaneously with the bustle of the sofa movers), a crown of sweet marbled goodness stood before me. Needless to say, I had no resolution whatsoever. I attacked! chomping on the confection slowly but surely.
Bad? I've been absolutely corrupt.
I can't believe I ate the entire cake by myself.
Sour Cream Marble Cake
adapted from Carole Walter's 'Great Coffee Cakes'
Makes one 9 - inch Bundt cake, 10 to 12 servings
AT A GLANCE
Pan: 9 - inch Bundt pan
Pan Prep: Butter generously/flour
Oven temp: 350°F
Baking time: 55 to 60 minutes
Weaving together swirls of deep chocolate and creamy vanilla, this sour cream marble cake is an irresistible taste combination any time your sweet tooth calls. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people are drawn to these contrasts of flavors and colors. To achieve a beautiful marbled affect, be sure to follow the directions carefully. If the batter is overworked, the layers of chocolate and vanilla will not be clearly defined.
3 ounces fine - quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt, coarsely chopped (see pages 387-388)
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Dutch - process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
21⁄2 cups sifted cake flour, spooned in and leveled
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
11⁄4 cups sour cream
1⁄4 cup milk
11⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
11⁄2 cups superfine sugar
4 large eggs
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9 - inch Bundt pan, dust with flour, then invert the pan over the kitchen sink and tap firmly to remove the excess flour. Set aside.
Make the Marbling
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a 2 - quart bowl set over a pot of simmering water. (The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.) Stir in the cocoa powder, corn syrup, and water, mixing until smooth. Remove from the heat and blend in the baking soda. Keep the chocolate mixture warm over the water bath while you prepare the batter.
Make the Batter
3. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, and vanilla. Set aside.
5. Cut the butter into 1 - inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, then add the superfine sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, taking 6 to 8 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, at 30 - second intervals, scraping down the side of the bowl again.
6. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream mixture, dividing the flour into three parts and the sour cream into two parts. Mix just until blended after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed.
7. Remove the marbling mixture from the water bath. Measure 11⁄2 cups of the batter, and add it to the marbling mixture, folding the two mixtures together gently.
Finish the Cake
8. Spoon one - half of the vanilla batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a large soupspoon. Using about one - third of the chocolate batter, distribute spoonfuls evenly over the vanilla batter, smoothing it carefully to the edge and covering as much vanilla batter as possible. Spoon one - half of the remaining vanilla batter over the chocolate batter. Spread the remaining chocolate batter over the vanilla, then finish with the remaining vanilla batter. As each layer of vanilla batter is spread, cover as much of the chocolate as you can.
9. Insert a table knife almost to the bottom of the pan and gently lift the knife up, over, and down again to fold the batters together, making about 15 folds as you rotate the pan. Smooth the top of the batter with the back of a large soupspoon.
10. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when the top is golden brown and firm to the touch, and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
11. Remove the cake from the oven and let stand on a cooling rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Cover with a cooling rack, invert the cake, and carefully lift off the pan. Cool the cake completely on the rack. Just before serving, dust the top with powdered sugar.
Storage: Store under a glass cake dome or covered with plastic wrap for up to 5 days.
This cake may be frozen.