Saturday, October 29, 2011

Osmanthus in the Wind

 Osmanthus in the Wind

Meeting up with Aunty Terri in KK has been great. She was very hospitable and kind to bring us to various food places. But most importantly, when seeing her passion in the food, she has inspired me to write and blog about food, recipes and eating again. Having baby Kay is a joy but she is a little tornado that completely changed our priorities and lives. As most of you know, her arrival has been full of drama and the first 4 months has been torturous for first time parents like Greg and I. I would rather hit the bed or watch tv drama if I have the time what more to say cook, bake and take photos and blog.

So meeting up with Aunty Terri and the trip has reminded me of the things we had loved doing ~ baking, eating, cooking, travelling and now with Baby Kay in tow, it is still fun even though in a different way. So here I am back on my feet, i think. I had a sudden urge to clean up my house, get some new furniture, patch up anything that is not working, rearrange the photos, and most of all to cook and bake (other than for Nee's), come out with new recipes and blog about them. Anyway, Christmas is hitting straight in my face and Mommy needs to think also about Baby Kay's first Christmas ~ decoration, presents and menu.

Well, to come back to this blog, I wanted to do jellies (as inspired by Terri at I really enjoyed talking about jellies and recipes with Terri during the trip. You can check out all Terri's creative and beautiful recipes here. Check out the Sakura Jelly, Summer Jelly, Kinabalu Jelly, Mt Purple especially as they are my favourites!).

Terri and along with 9 other bloggers are competing in the Royal Selangor Jelliriffic! Challenge, which is to to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Welfare Association of Malaysia. This association is a non-profit organisation set up by medical specialists to help women with breast cancer. The bloggers were given the jelly moulds designed by Nick Munro for RSP and were to come out with recipes using the moulds for 30 days in the month of October. Others like me (Yes! I bought these shiny gorgeous babies and they have just arrived on Thursday) and you can purchase these lovely and highly versatile moulds from RSP and proceeds will go to the Association. I bought the moulds thinking of those pretty gorgeous items I can do for my Baby's future parties. And to give our absolute support to Terri (I hope you win this and you should) and the Royal Selangor Jelliriffic! Challenge.

The first jelly I did was Osmanthus in the Wind. Osmanthus flower (Gui Hua) comes in tiny pieces, light, gold to yellow in colour and has a beautiful scent, not overly flowery with a fruity apricot like scent. Commonly used in China and Hong Kong as tea and desserts. Commonly seen the Guilin China.

This flower reminded me of Women. I thought of Women in the older days, especially Asian Women, who do not have status, rights or identity even. There is a famous Chinese saying that goes "Women follow their fathers at home, when they are married, they follow their husbands, and when they grow old, they follow their sons" See the word FOLLOW here. These women were like Osmanthus in the Wind. They were not allowed to have opinions, dreams and ambitions, they were not even allowed to go out from their home, and in some culture deemed as worthless. Basically they had no control over their lives! Just like the Osmanthus, blown and dropped onto wherever the wind shall bring them.

But little Osmanthus is beautiful, and they are resilient. They survived! Just like those beautiful, strong, resilient fore-mothers of ours. They had supported their husbands, raised their children and with little acknowledgement, they had held up half of the sky. Osmanthus in the Wind is a tribute to these women who had walked the journey of pain, abuse and put downs quietly to allow us(the women) to enjoy many rights and privileges today. I hope those women suffering from Breast Cancer can also draw their strengths from these women.

Osmanthus in the Wind Jelly is a combination of 
Osmanthus flower and dried and canned longan.

For one 200 ml mould:

Osmanthus Layer:
1/2 tsp of Konnyaku powder
200ml of water and Osmanthus liquid ( infusing  1/2 tsp of Osmanthus flower with 1/2 cup of warm water)
20gm of castor sugar 
1 tsp of Osmanthus Flower

1) Osmanthus tea is yellowish, depending on how yellow you want your jelly to be, use some of the Osmanthus tea with the addition of water.
2) Mix Konnyaku powder with castor sugar in a pot, stir to mix them. Add Osmanthus liquid.
3) Bring to a boil, stirring all the time. Turn to low fire and keep the mixture warm, that is why i used 200ml as evaporation will reduce the liquid.
4) Rinse the mould and sit it in a glass. Drop a few pieces of the Osmanthus flower into the mould. Add a tiny teaspoon of the mixture. Osmanthus flower is very light and will sit on the jelly mixture. For the swirling effects, I drop a tiny pinch of the flower on top of the jelly siding to one side of the mould (say 3pm position). Scoop some more jelly mixture onto the other side(9pm position) of the mould first and finally covering the flowers  to as much as possible push in down. Do this to 1/4 of the mould. Let it cool a little.
5) Continue the above by the dropping the flower at the 6 pm position up to 1/2 of the mould. Please try to push the flower down with the jelly mixture.
6) The final layer will cover the 3rd quarter of the mould, dropping the flowers more on the 6 to 9 pm position. When you reach the 3rd quarter top, sprinkle the flower over the entire base lightly. Wait til semi set to place the pieces of canned longans. 

Longan Jelly

10-12 pcs of dried longans
3-4 pcs of canned longans
some warm water to soaked the  dried longans
1/4 tsp of Konnyaku Powder
10 gm of castor sugar
Some more water

1) Soften the dried longans with warm water. Blend it in a blender.
2) Add some more water to make it to 120gm
3) In a pot, mix konnyaku powder with sugar. Stir. Add the longan blend. Bring it to a boil and stirring all the time.
4)  Pour over the canned longan and Osmanthus Jelly.
5) Chill for 2 hour to set.

Have fun! The difficult bit is dropping the flowers and pushing them down to the jelly. See what I say about resilient.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nee's Durian Fiesta

The whole Kuching town is going mad with durians or so it seems. There's a durian seller at every roundabout in Kuching, and they line up all the way to Kota Samarahan. And I've just heard that the imported Mao Shan Wang are back in town. 

Being a durian lover, I thought hey, I should join in the fun. And it has been fun spending two afternoons dabbling in the kitchen mixing and concocting new durian recipes. It felt good to get my baking engine started again after such a long post-pregnancy break. 

But this also meant that poor Baby Kay had to be passed around between the grandmas. Every time she comes near the kitchen, mommy can only say hi and kisses and see you later, baby. I think she misses mommy especially today.

LAdies & Gentlemen, these were the new recipes that I came up with. All of them are available at Nee's from 6.30 pm onwards today. If you missed it today, fret not, we are open again on Tuesday 2pm to 11 pm (Nee's is closed on Mondays). I promise you there will be more to come.

Durian Cheese Cake

The rich king of fruits blended into cream cheese making it a super yummy combination. A must for cheese and durian lovers.

Durian Delight
Light sponge layered with special rich durian mousse making it a delightful combination. One piece may not be enough.

 Durian Swiss Roll

 Nee's Special Durian Cream gives traditional swiss rolls a delightful twist.

 Cream Puffs with Durian Cream. Ehmmm...need I say anymore?! Slurping yet?!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Greg & Nee Do Durians

 Nee & I don't usually take the trouble to go out to buy durians as this would be one of those things on our lazy-to-do list. Normally, someone else like our parents would buy them in a bunch from somewhere and we'd sneakily get our share as well.

But this year, I don't really know what had hit us both. We've become pro-active durian hunters. Maybe it's the new baby or something else, although I can't see how the logic works.

I didn't fare too badly with the hunt. The stall beside BSN bank at Tabuan Jaya had a good selection of kampong durians selling from RM10-14. Being not able to tell a good durian from a bad one, I usually go straight up to the guy & ask for yellow ones, and yellow ones I'll get. He sold me two small ones with short thorns and they were as yellow as Big Bird. And I thought I was already in heaven.

But then came along these which were at the top of the game.

Do you see how yellow they are? Can you almost feel the texture in your mouth?
These were the original Cat Mountain King (Mao Shan Wang) aka Musang King aka D197 aka Butter Durian aka Raja Kunyit originally from Gua Musang, Pahang (some say Kelantan), and they cost RM35 per kg here in Kuching.

We got these babies through Jo, who placed special orders with the people that brought them into Kuching from Pahang. Apparently they were selling them somewhere next to Yow Kee cafe at 101 Premiere. We got two batches, and these were the last of the season (to come into Kuching), or so we heard.

Mao Shan Wang is known for its sweetness with a tinge of bitterness, and its small flattened seeds. When you bite into it, it's soft enough to melt in your mouth without becoming too mushy, and it's tender enough without being too chewy.

Now how can you ever resist this? Stanley Ho couldn't.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Baby Gifts

The gifts started coming in early 3 months ago but we hadn't had time to record our words of thanks until now. So here's a BIG THANK YOU to all who had generously showered baby Kay with your blessings (all the phone calls and messages; we can't thank you enough), gifts & ang pows. We think she is such a lucky baby just by looking at the amount of gifts and ang pows she gets and some sent specially all the way from Australia, Canada, Singapore, Sibu, KK and KL.

Uncle Raymond had thoughtfully bought us an Amway water filter five months before Kay's arrival, which in his words, good for his little niece and she will need it. Uncle Roger had showered her with a MacLaren XLR stroller in which he claimed that he only have one niece at the moment, so no expense is too much. Aunty Winnie and Uncle Felix got her her latex mattress with a whole set of cot bedding set, which they insisted, as it was safer and cooler for her to sleep in.

These beautiful creations were knitted by Greg's mom.

Baby Kay's collection of shoes has started. I hope she doesn't go down the same path as Imelda Marcos.

Beautiful gift packages with gifts of clothings and knick knacks such as photo albums, frames and even a clip fan, teething ring and rubber ducky.

And she has clothings that will probably last her till one year old at least. And they come in sets. 

Greg: I hope this doesn't become a habit. "Daddy, I want the whole collection, now."

Initially we thought Baby Kay had too few toys as we had not bought her any. I think now we can rival Toys R Us. She has all sorts, probably the whole collection  from wrists and feet rattler to play gym, courtesy of our many good friends and collegues. Special thank you to FS who specially send the toy over from KL.

Loved these, from Caryn. Look at the hot pants! And such beautiful hand sewn blanket you bought.

And finally, this has got to be the ultimate. Baby Dior pacifier.

Made in Germany. Thank you Leonard & Claudia!
Greg's hair is turning white. He's thinking what have we gotten her into? Flash forward 16 years into the future - super spoilt brat covered in branded attire from head to toe, and still wanting more. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

P/S We did not manage to thank every single one. Your love and kindness for baby Kay is so very deeply felt by us. And most importantly, Thank You so much for sharing our joy and giving us the support that we both needed during the pregnancy through Kay's birth and her time in hospital, and now the whole new journey of parenthood.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Adventure Begins!

Despite our pleas & bibery, our confinement lady left us yesterday evening. So last night both of us were left alone with Baby Kay. She's on a 3-hour feeding interval and we thought we could outpace her by getting things ready even before she wakes. Well, we thought we could. That's as far as we got cos we were flat after every feed.

I think both of us are looking like pandas now. And the news is that it's only the first night. A friend told me that by the 3rd night, we'd be goners.

There is no Greg & Nee. Greg & Nee do not exist anyore. It's only Baby Kay & everything is about Baby Kay. Pretty soon this blog is just going to be Baby Kay on the Go! cos Greg & Nee is not going anywhere.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Finally, I feel like a real cow."
- Nee (March 12, 2011)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Power Puff Babies & Other Stuff

Nee started letting me play with fondant quite sometime ago. While it is definitely much more manageable compared to marzipan (in terms of its durability), I am still lunging myself at it like an amateur. 

Like photography, my attempts have been mostly intuitive, lacking the technical superiority of other sugarcraft artists.

These were a few of my attempts for Nee's customers who wanted something a bit more on top of their cakes.

This fairy cake was a bit tough cos to make fairies, you have to feel like one, to become one with them; and for a guy, that's not easy.

I used to love these girls until I had to sculpt them in 3D. These Power Puff Babies were tough. It took me 4 hours & cracks started appearing.
In between all these were also a pumpkin for Halloween & a 3D sports car (no photos unfortunately) which made me work my butt off.
A word of warning though. If you're looking for aesthetics above the quality of the actual cakes, you can do better if you try places like Mita or Taka cakehouses (I don't think they would hire me in a million years).

However if the quality of the cakes is more important to you & the decor is just a bonus  distraction, then Nee has got the right stuff for you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year 2011

 This is for those who have not seen us for quite some time (7 months to be exact).

Due to her special condition, Nee will be mostly resting at home this festive season. We'll do the ocassional necessary visits to our relatives (during meal times).

Happy Chinese New Year to all our readers & patrons of Nee's.

P/s Despite what's on my Polo-T, I am not 100 years old. 

p/p/s  Nee's will be closed for the Chinese New Year celebrations & will open again on Feb 9 onwards.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taipei Day 3: Ximending

The rain did not stop on our third day in Taipei. In fact, it kept pushing into the night. We left the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall for a place called Ximending which had more people than the rain.

Ximending is one of the older & therefore better known hangouts, being the earliest & the biggest pedestrian centre in Taipei. This place was probably where your parents went to in one of those huge tour buses full of Malaysian tourists in the 70s or 80s (that gives you only one hour to shop).

This is the place to come for fashion & to experience the subculture.

Gramps doing the subculture thing, probably doing a bit of shopping for his grandaughter.
'Dang! You ate my coin!'

Doraemon aghast at the menacing robotic hand which had probed him before 
in unspeakable areas.

Right at the heart of this place is the historical Red Theatre.

It was originally designed & built by the Japanese Occupation as a market; which  thenn strangely turned into a live performance house. Today, it houses designer/artist boutique stores on the ground floor & a performance stage upstairs. I'm sure once upon a time this place holds much romantic charm.
Today, it's an interesting place to shop  for designer souveniers; not the usual run-of-the-mill Taiwan keychains or fridge magnets. 

These are DIY sew-yourself dolls.

Postcards with people that pop-up at the back.

Old Taipei pop up cards.

And of course there's always food anywhere you go in Taipei, with long lines of people. I would have gone for this with both eyes closed & my mouth open but Nee was looking for something soupily-steamboaty.

Till today, I regreted not finding out what that rice flour thing was.

When a restaurant doesn't need to provide chairs & tables, it must be selling something really good.

By day 3 in Taipei, it became natural that my reflexes were re-programmed to gravitate towards anything that had a long line of people, including this.

But as it turned out, this shop was selling innards, and I quickly gravitated to the exit.

Then there was another bunch of crowd around this stall; a different one, mostly women, both single young ones & also aunties, obviously gawking at Tom Cruise doing the cocktail thing.
But those were not cocktails. They were white bitter gourd drinks (about RM4.00). I wasn't sure whether these ladies were there for the drinks but they tasted good. Note: the man on the right probably had dubious gender preference.

Potato balls! You can see this in every night market. It's a very Taiwanese thing.

For RM5, you'd get a big bag, RM3 for small. I don't want to go back to inflation-fested Malaysia.

The whole Ximending place was like a maze & the multiple alleys did not help. We kept plodding on hoping to come across something really nice. Nee wanted something hot & soupy like steamboat but we weren't sure where the good ones were.

Out of extreme hunger & famine, we dropped into this place that actually looked like a chain restaurant. I didn't have a good feeling about this place but we were losing our sugar level fast.
Nee looked happy. I think the food hadn't really reached her tastebuds yet.

I don't think these were any more special than any other place.

The set came with some smelly tofu plus smelly innards stuff but it didn't work for us.
Nee came out so so but I was extremely disappointed, and now I stunk of stinky tofu. Not entirely satisfied with the evening, we decided to pursue further even though our bloated stomachs were screaming in agony. But the god of gluttony was smiling down on us that night. So was this store owner.

The standard Taipei oyster pancakes which still amazes me. The prices are always up there on the signboard.

This felt like Kuching fest & we were feeding ourselves silly. There is NOTHING like Taipei stewed minced pork rice (Lu Rou Fan). I can have this ten times & I'd still want another ten more.

Children in impoverished Africa probably will never know the feeling of being full. Here, we were beyond their imagination, way beyond what their minds can fathom. We were extremely & disgustingly beyond full.

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