Ally

I ought to hit the showers for the night. Instead, here I am, composing another blog post.

Speaking of schedules, The Gates (another one of those pseudo-supernatural vampire series I swore never to catch unless it could match True Blood‘s standards. Then again, True Blood kind of lost me so I’m back to watching any drama on free-to-air Channel 5. Furthermore, HBO Asia costs $12.84, GST included on Starhub TV, subjected to local broadcasting censorship. I’ll pass.) by the end of this sentence would start in 2 minutes. Basically, the series is based on a gated community which harbours plenty of secrets. Throw in a conflicted policeman, confused vampires, wild rule-bound werewolves and bewitching potion laden teas and you’ve got yourself another drama that questions the viability of co-existence between the living, living dead and hyper-living (werewolves). So if you are looking for a less raunchy spin on supernatural, tune into The Gates.

Teeny sidetrack: I’ll settle for True Blood’s season four. Talk about a very pale and lost Eric trudging about Bon Temps in the middle of the night… I see an adaptation of my favourite installment in the book series: Club Dead!

If you’re into mild gore, watch Fear Itself. I’m surprised Channel 5 allows for a scene whereby an arm was lopped off by a very angry werewolf. Maybe that’s why it airs every Saturday night at 11; though I’m sure young kids are night owls as well.

When it comes to horror series, Fact or Fiction triumphs. The concept of guessing whether or not the stories are real or fictional is truly chilling. I vaguely remember a story about a grandma who was a red-eyed demon despite repeatedly telling her grandson that the red-eyed monster he sees every night is merely a nightmare. I ended up having sleepless nights.

Right now, no supernatural dramas pique my interest like how Supernatural and Vampire Diaries do. Oh come on, bromance… ‘Nuff said.

Oh, Vampire Diaries also has a winning soundtrack. I now own 125 songs from the first season. If you’re into modern Indie and Alternative rock, it’s aligned to your groove. Time is a runaway. Nights for now!

The dark ages are over. The exams are finally out of sight and Friday, 4th March was a whirlwind afternoon of celebrations.

I admittedly, took a longer time to fall asleep than before. Call it excitement or a mild case of insomnia, but the final paper for the week did have me chomping my nails down to its roots. It was a blatant, no-nonsense 2-hour test on Tax but through it all, I know that once it was over, I have successfully leaped off the cliff and survived.

I love the warmth of the sun after being stifled for far too long. It like shedding an old, scaly skin and suddenly, you’re ready to be up against the world.

For one day.

At 11.15am, we set off to catch a movie. Any movie. Though neurotic me would have skimmed the new releases and settled on “I Am Number Four” or “The Adjustment Bureau”. Since I was in a post-Inception mood (and still mentally alive), we sold our souls to “The Adjustment Bureau”.

Only Shanty and I were madly indulgent and fought through a double bill.

More on that later.

In a brief review, The Adjustment Bureau is a surrealist with a mildly elaborate plot in small doses. If it were to measure up with Inception, I say it was merely skipping the waters like a harmless pebble. So go ahead and lose yourself in daydreamin’ for The Adjustment Bureau.

Dissatisfied and determined, Shanty and I ended up watching The Black Swan right after The Adjustment Bureau. The Cathay then Plaza Singapura. Honestly, we would have missed the train of happiness for it. BEST MOVIE EVER.

Portman certainly deserved to wrap every finger around that golden statue.

Basically, The Black Swan revealed much raw insight in a quest to perfection and how fine a line between sanity and insanity is. What I loved about the movie was how it was relational and trust me, we have all been there more than once in our lives. (Self revelation #1: Been there, done that.)

The day ended with an economical dinner of epic (monetary) proportions (food is particularly costly downtown) and a warm hug to wish my friend the best for her internship.

Time, truly flies when you’re having fun.

To think about it, I’m not the only ecstatic soul running amock, yelling, “Yipee! We have an oven!” Apparently,  my mom has gotten into the act.

About two weeks ago, my mom went into a baker’s frenzy (a term for a person who bakes uncontrollably) and baked what I call, yin-yang muffins. They weren’t a type of muffin, but more like in two batches, each with its own flavour. Why yin-yang? Let’s say when both factions met, one whole-wheat chocolate while the other, ham and cheese, they likened the yin-yang insignia.

Regretfully, I lack photographic evidence on my claim. However I assure you that I laughed so hard the armies of muffins nearly fell off their cooling racks.
Talk about like mother, like daughter.

Admittedly, the past evening’s success of baking Chocolate Syrup Brownies, made my head bloat. Believing the prospects of a baked and healthy breakfast was the ideal meal to jumpstart my morning, boy oh boy did I validate history to repeat one’s self.

Speaking about history, I probably haven’t share with you that Baked Cauliflower, Portabello & Brown Mushrooms breakfast. It was a Sunday morning and it passed languorously. However, a seemingly major disturbance arose when the tray holding a spread of Cauliflower simply refused to fit on the same rack holding the mix of mushrooms. Blame it on the size of the oven. The wait for breakfast was no less than torturous, staring down at the raw produce luxuriously taking its heat bath.

Let’s say I am just one of those proud believers of quick & easy breakfasts. 😛

So, why the second attempt? My question to you is: Tomatoes don’t take long to wilt under heat and more so, eggs allow for one to cook to a preferred doneness. Surely, quick & easy is already in sights.

WRONG to ‘easy’.

The tomato cups (a full tomato with its contents dug out with a spoon) were prepared the night before, along with the cubed ham. All I had to do was to incorporate all the ingredients in the vegetable shell.

Well, that and a bread cup which my mom was compelled to try out after watching those cooking programs. Same concept, just that the bread replaces the tomato.

After fashioning a crustless enriched white bread into a muffin cup, the shallowness of the vessel proved itself and once the eggs were poured into the bread cup, the egg white dribbled slowly but surely off the tin.

Let’s say the bread ended up on a tin foil like a pseudo-French Toast.

Soon after, the cups went into the oven and out came a barely-holding-its-form tomato and a medium-well done egg. It was nearly a mush and frankly, overcooked. Later, I realised the doneness of the egg depends on the cook so the cup needn’t be in the oven as stipulated by the recipe…

Well. The taste wasn’t half as disaster the tomatoes were becoming. The ham lent its saltiness to the egg, where its yolk has lustrously coated. On top of that, the tomato held its natural sweetness, though thoughtfully, it could do better with a punctuation of salt.

Salt + Oven never seem to be a likely pairing for my bake cycles. Sorry mom. Sugar triumphs!

(Photos will be posted soon!)

… That makes me crave it in one moment and flare up in a heartbeat.

Baking.

Make no mistake, I adore baking. Even went crazed enough to bake 2 days in a row. That was before. Anyway, the emotions I experience whilst baking is the interesting bit.

Should anyone ask what is it about baking that I truly adore, I’ll say: Whisking (with an electric beater of course).

Though before I get to that, I must say that the preparation process never fails to leave me moderately frustrated. Something about chopping ingredients, bending over 1m high dining tables to measure out concise portions  in measuring cups and scrambling for missing ingredients during whisking (keeping in mind that’s my favourite part), leaves my flustered.

Somehow, I just hate to be interrupted in the midst of a calming whisk.

Whisking with a handheld electric beater surely beats tumbling ingredient after ingredient into a large mixing bowl (of a cake mixer). With the handheld device, you can actually feel the pull of the batter against the whisks, instantaneous rising clouds of flour puffs upon incorporation, that split-second tear when steel meets yolk… Bliss. I never want to be interrupted. Period.

However, I realised that my tweaking of recipes often leave me scrambling for missing ingredients halfway through whisking, which very much instills a bothersome niggle that my half-whisked mixture is sitting way too long, way too still. That is some serious baker trepidation.


So when I do forget and scramble for the ingredients, my mind would wander to the time when the raw good sits in the oven for a nail-biting 30 minutes. How will it turn out? Will it rise? If it doesn’t, what went wrong? My carelessness in preparation or a misstep in the recipe?

At last, when oven calls out and the baked good is visibly successful through the looking glass, YES! My heart sings in rightfully glee.

Ah, luckily enough, my heart continues to swell in positivity as every one of my first attempts turn out fine.


Cheers, to continuous bake feasts!

I am a woman with no mission. In fact, the very inspiration to attempt this recipe was an idle bottle of Hershey’s Genuine Chocolate Syrup.

Well, that and the other fact of not needing to spend time melting chocolate chips over the stove-top.

Get, set and applause to the easiest brownies recipe I’ve ever attempted (store-bought pre-mixes not considered): Chocolate Syrup Brownies.

I believe brownies smell for themselves and anything with vanilla essence piques one’s tastebuds. Never mind the artificial origin.

One cup of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup later, the mixture turns into a beautiful shade of burgundy-brown. However, once the white flour and cocoa powder mix was encapsulated into the wet batter, an unsettling mud bath developed:

Contrary to the unappealing batter, all it took was 25 minutes of immense trapped heat to set the seemingly simple mixture. (Under 5 ingredients and you got yourself a brownie!)

Well, interestingly enough, I took 2 approaches to arrive at its cooked state: first by paper cups then by a longitudinal Teflon-coated baking tin. The first batch turned out better than expected, even rising with the absence of baking powder and soda! What turned out after the baking tin went into the oven (it sat out for a good 25 minutes in the open) was this:

On dissection, a chocolate baked-mooncake-like-biscotti was born! Truly, when I savoured it the day after, it tasted like a baked mooncake. Dense and deceptively tasty.

Why biscotti? The level it rose was how I expected a biscotti to.

To end this daring first attempt of simple brownies, they made an avid chocolate-loving friend a breakfast she’ll never forget.

Hello great folks! I’ve been rather lazy of late, not blogging for like 4 years and counting. Well, it ends here because… I now have a reason to do so!

This baking aficionado has finally laid hands on a convection oven. Yes, christened 5 times over, I am on top of the mound of empowerment! Speaking of which, I must say my mom’s ears will hear of better days now, having to tolerate my endless complaints of the 99.99% of recipes I was unable to carry forth with on foodgawker.com.

Sorry mom.

(The $99 contraption and trust me, the glare from the overhead lighting illuminated the interiors. Otherwise, it’s pretty dim in there.)

Well, back to the oven, this $99 contraption may not be the brightest of the lot (considering the lack of built-in lights) nor its depth comparable to a bear’s stomach (2 medium muffin trays fill a rack), but it does allow me to bake all sorts of wonders in small batches. What’s there to fuss about?

Ah, I can never forget the first encounter with this oven (it involves grilling an amazing fillet of a mackerel)… But surely, I don’t want to bore you with the details. So let me narrow my encounters down to the baked delights.

My mom really first tested her baking skills with a Sweetcorn Mochi cupcake. Regretfully, it flopped, literally, all about the cooling rack. In fact, it oiled up so severely the following morning, it knocked the volume out of the cupcake. However, I must say its gluey texture bears semblance to the local muah chee. Despite the awful setback, it was the yummiest failure I’ve ever tasted.

Next, my mom ventured into some delectable Banana Muffins. This time, precise baking ingredients and focus went into the folding and preparation of the concoction. I merely assisted in the incorporation of the dry produce (wholemeal flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda & powder & rolled oats) and bringing the final goods out of the scorching cavity to cool.

Despicable me huh.

Anyway, they were true-to-their-form dense, and every bite sure took residence somewhere in the pits of one’s stomach. Really, 1 muffin is enough to leave you satisfyingly full. I owed it to the wholemeal and rolled oats. Further, they were sufficiently sweet with just TWO tablespoons of sugar! I loved how the sweetness was punctuated with the mashed bananas, without any of those cloyingly refined sweetness. The perfect au naturale and wholesome muffin.

Of course. We couldn’t stop at 2 trays (12 in total) of muffins. They were polished off in no time! (I ate 2 myself.) So this morning, I decided to take on the same recipe, only that my mom did the honours of adding cubed green apples to it. Therein lies my 2nd official bake cycle entry:

Cinnamon, Green Apple & Banana Muffins

Seriously. Anything with cinnamon makes my mouth water. Just the aroma permeating the mid-morning air, is more than sufficient to revive the weary Monday blues.

All that for mixing dry and wet ingredients separately, exactly 7 folds once combined and spooned into 12 white paper cups.

About 20 minutes in and the doughy lumps ascended from the confines of the paper cups, meekly rising with every tick of the oven’s timer. 10 minutes later (who’s counting?), the pale cream-chiffon muffins transformed into uneven peaks, cracking open to greet more heat and unveiling traces of white flour due to my previously rough incorporation (of white flour) into the unbaked mixture.

To add a bronze blush to the top, I let it bake for a further 5 minutes even though it was well cooked through.

The taste test? Let’s say it was edgy sourness juxtaposed with the mildly sweet banana mush enclosed in one compact igloo of partially wholemeal wonder.

Enjoy. ;D

P.S. I believe my next project will be Chocolate Syrup Brownies. Something that involves a cup of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. DE-LISH!