Wednesday, December 28, 2011

28 Dec 11 (Thu) - Cranberry with Blueberry Jam Ice Cream

Been wanting to try out this strawberry jam ice cream recipe that I found few weeks ago. Thought I could do it over last long Christmas weekend but sis said her freezer would be packed with food. Did not think I could do it over this coming long New Year weekend and I desparately wanted to try it out so made a decision to do it this evening. Went to NTUC after work to get a small packet of whipping cream and a bottle of jam before heading home.

Cranberry with Blueberry Jam

Since I did the strawberry ice cream previously so thought I would do blueberry ice cream. However, I was not tall enough to get the wild blueberry jam so settled for the cranberry with blueberry jam instead. After the previous attempt, I found out that my freezer is quite cold and hence instead of churning every 2 hours, I churned every 1 hour for about 3 times before leaving it in the freezer to freeze overnight.

Cranberry with Blueberry Jam Ice Cream

200ml whipping cream
100ml cranberry with blueberry jam
4 tbsp icing sugar

1.  Divide the whipping cream into 2 portions
2.  Mix one portion of the whipping cream with the jam till well combined
3.  Add icing sugar to the other portion of the whipping cream and whisk till well combined
4.  Stir the jam mixture into the icing sugar mixture
5.  Pour the mixture into a container of your choice and put into the freezer
6.  Take out after 1 hour to churn using a spoon and repeat this step for another 3 times
7.  Leave the mixture in the freezer overnight for it to firm

---------------- Edited on 29 Dec 2011 ----------------

Took the ice cream out in the morning and scooped some to take photo as well as to taste. The texture was closer to commercial ice cream but I found it a bit sweet and the jam taste very strong. Took the rest to office thinking that I could get my usual group of tasters to do the taste test. However, I only found out that most of them were on leave when I got to office. The staff movement chart did not show the records. I guessed either they took last minute leave or their approving officers did not approve their leave forms in time.

Was so afraid that there would be left over that I even sent chat messages to those unlikely persons for taste test. Overall feedback was good with NLK commenting that she preferred the previous strawberry ice cream coz I used real fruits. S said it was nice and not too sweet, however KH said it was a bit too sweet. Oh well... Personally I also prefer using real fruits to jam. Perhaps next round I could try honeydew ice cream or rockmelon ice cream.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

25 Dec 11 (Sun - Christmas Day) - Yam Ring

Sis messaged me last week saying that she had taken her deep fryer out to be used this week as well as over the Christmas long weekend and that I could try out the yam ring recipe from Nasi Lemak Lover that I had found few weeks back. Couldn't remember why I had searched for that recipe in the first place.

Anyway, went with sis on her weekly grocery shopping at Giant yesterday and bought some Thai yam. The recipe called for 200g yam after cooked and I thought I had better get about 300g so that after peeling, slicing and dicing I would have about 200+g of yam to work with. The yam available in Giant were smaller than the one I used for the Ou Nee dessert previously and so I took about three of them. Got sis to weigh them while I went to take a packet of baby corn.

This morning Lyn said she wants to make crepes and sis told her to do it in the afternoon as tea break. She started cooking about 2+pm and I only got to start on mine about 3+pm. Washed, peeled, sliced and diced the three yam till my left hand itched. Felt strange coz my hand didn't itch when I handled the yam during my previous attempt at the Ou Nee. Took the usual metal tray to put the yam for steaming but it wasn't big enough.

By the time I finally put the yam into the steam oven to steam, it was about 4+pm. Let it steamed for 30 minutes before taking it out to mash. But there were still some pieces not soft enough to be mashed and hence put the whole tray back into the steam over to steam for another 10 minutes. Finally took it out and continued to mash while wondering why there seemed to be so much yam than the last time.

Took two big bowls out and weighed about 400g of yam in each bowl to work with and there was still some more yam left in the tray. I could feel that something was not right but I was already short of time. Quickly added the seasonings into the three portions of yam and mixed them into soft dough before shaping two of the portions into rings while the last portion was made into yam balls.

By the time I was done, it was already close to 6.30pm and I knew that BIL's sis and parents would be coming over for dinner soon. Hence quickly cleared the dining table and waited for the deep fryer to be ready for frying. BIL's sis came over first and when she saw the yam balls and the ring. Usually I would prefer that other people leave me alone to do my cooking but I guessed I was rather glad that she helped me with the frying part.

The first ring wasn't successful coz the oil didn't cover the whole ring and then it was stuck to the deep fryer basket. When we tried to take it up to turn it over to fry the other side, it broke into pieces. So BIL's sis suggested making the second ring smaller and shorter while she fried the yam balls. Did as told with sis using the extra dough to make more yam balls. The second ring was a success and I was happy. Placed it on a plate and decorated it with roast duck meat, char siew and baby corn.

Initially I was thinking of stir-frying the baby corn with chicken meat, carrot and button mushrooms but I was really short of time and hence had to make do with whatever I have in a very, very short time. Took a couple of photos of my creation before eating dinner. The yam rings and balls had yam taste obviously but didn't taste the same as those found in the zi char stalls in coffeeshops. It wasn't fragrant enough and not salty enough.

In the end, we only managed to finish about 2/3 of the broken ring and a few balls. The rest was thrown away in the end which I felt very wasteful and guilty about it. Cracked my brain about why the estimation was off and I finally figured out why. I kept thinking that I had only bought about 400g of yam and that it cost about $1.50+ per 100g and so the total cost was about $5+ when in fact, the label stated that the three yam weighed about 1.5kg and cost about $0.39 per 100g and so the cost was still about $5+. Sigh... My mistake. I should have just taken one yam instead of three.

Yam Ring
Yam Ring - Close-up

Ingredients (Yam Ring):
200g yam (the weight is after cooked)
1 tbsp rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 tsp sugar
A dash of Chinese five-spice powder
A dash of pepper

1.  Wash, slice and dice the yam
2.  Steam yam slices for about 40 mins till soft
3.  Mash steamed yam using a spatula
4.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients into the yam paste and mix well
5.  Add oil and mix well until the dough is soft and not too sticky
6.  Shape into ring and deep fry the ring till golden brown (oil must cover the whole ring)
7.  Serve hot with food of your choice in the ring

Sunday, December 4, 2011

4 Dec 11 – Day 10 (Brisbane Airport, Singapore)

Sleep was good except that it got very humid in the middle of the night and I had to get up to open the door slightly to let more air into the room as well as increased the fan speed to high. Got up, cooked mi-goreng as breakfast coz we needed to clear as much food as possible. Then sis woke the rest up and BIL cooked the rest of the instant noodles for the kids and sis. Was not able to finish the pizza from last night, the mango jam and left two mangoes in the fridge. Got changed, quickly packed up the rest of the stuff and brought the luggage down to the living room. BIL managed to transfer all the soft toys from the grey foldable bag into the various suitcases.

We left the apartment about 9+am coz the check out time was 10am. Drove to the airport and stopped for petrol midway. Lyn bought a big box tic tac (40g) at A$4. Initially BIL wanted to go to the Big Pineapple coz it was supposedly to be on the way but guessed we missed it and so continued to the airport. Returned the car in the carpark, checked in the luggage and ate lunch. All of us ordered from the Noodle Box and I had Pad Thai that cost A$15. It got very salty as I came to the bottom of the food and in the end; I gave up after half a box. The rest also did not finish the food coz the noodle was not tasty. BIL then went to check out the gift shop nearby and bought some frozen abalones.

While at the security check, I got the beeped and realised that it was because of the belt I borrowed from sis. So had to take it off and walked through the machine again. Then at the immigration counter, we were told that we need to fill up the departure card and so had to move out of the queue just to fill up the card. Fortunately, the departure card did not have as many fields to fill as the arrival card and we got it done in about 10 minutes. Finally boarded the plane and it took off around 2.40pm. The flight took about 8 hours and the whole time I was thinking when I could get out of the plane coz there were quite a few babies and toddlers who were crying non-stop. The one behind me even kicked sis and my chair. I was really glad when we touched down and got off the plane.

Thoughts: Overall, this trip was not as good as I had hoped to be but fortunately not too bad even though we had hiccups over the cottage stay and did not get to visit a couple of places that we had planned.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

3 Dec 11 – Day 9 (Noosa Heads)

Today was a rest and relax day. Since Eumundi Markets did not appeal to us so we decided not to go back there. As usual, sis woke up the earliest amongst us and it was followed by me. Ate bread with peanut butter and the extra raspberry cheesecake from the first night while watching tv. The rest got up much later and then BIL started making breakfast. He cooked sunny side up, scrambled eggs with bacons and toasts. So sis and I had second round of breakfast and it was really good with mangoes and mango juice as desserts. BIL told us to finish as many mangoes as we could coz out of the 30 odd mangoes, only a few could be brought back home. So each of us had about two each and the rest were to be kept for the evening.

My breakfast is missing a bacon mouth

Went out about 11+am to the Australian Nougat Company and the weather was clear and sunny. The place was small, just a cottage size with a factory and a shop space and it was quiet. It was after we got in and found out that they closed at 1pm on Saturday. We checked our watches and it was about 10 minutes to 1pm. So quickly grabbed a few bags of nougats and made payment. On the way back, we passed by another sign saying mangoes for A$6 so BIL drove in to check it out. He bought two trays of five mangoes each and paid A$12. We went back to the apartment to unload our purchases before going to Noosa Head to look for the Noosa Lookout and to go to the beach. Found a Laguna Lookout which was in the Noosa National Park and BIL drove in and up the slope. The view was not fantastic coz the bushes and trees were too tall.

Australian Nougat Company

Couple of photos from the Laguna Lookout :

Came back down and parked at the foot of the Noosa National Park. Took some photos and went down to the rocky side of the beach where BIL took more photos and the kids threw stones. After we were done, we went to the Hastings Street where BIL drove up and down the street several times trying to find a parking space. Finally found one and after parking, BIL saw his colleague with his wife and son. They chatted a little before going their separate ways. There was a beach volleyball event going on at the beach and so the beach was very crowded. Just after we entered the beach near the entrance of the Noosa Heads Surf Life Saving Club, we saw a sand sculpture and in front of it was a tin for donation.

A few more photos from the foot of the Noosa National Park :

Found a shady spot near the wooden walkway and sat down to let the kids play sand. BIL stayed with them while sis and I went for a walk along Hastings Street. Nothing really interesting and so we just bought a bottle of soft drink and two cups of ice cream, one rum & raisins and the other Dutch Chocolate Chips. After I was done eating, I walked down the beach on the sand to the edge of the water and let the waves that ran ashore to wet my feet. It was a nice feeling but I felt out of place coz I was not in swimwear or proper beachwear.

Royal Copenhagen Rum & Raisin Ice Cream

I saw seagulls strolling on the beach leaving footprints and was tempted to take photos but was too shy to do it. M came to mind and I thought if she was there, she probably would have enjoyed the beach and the photography opportunity very much. There were many people on the beach; they just came with beach towels and bags, simply laid the towel on the sand, took off their clothes and laid on the towel to suntan. Some went into the water, some did not, and some did surfing while other just played balls.

Some more photos while at Noosa Beach :

Left after about 1 hour at 4pm to head back, thinking we could perhaps try the swimming pool. Got back, took a peek at the swimming pool and it seemed shallow, besides, it was too windy for a swim so we abandoned the idea. Got back to the apartment and BIL called Bertoni’s to make a reservation for five at 6.30pm before taking a nap, leaving the rest to watch tv in the living room till 6pm. Reached the restaurant at 6.30pm, sat down and placed order for food. Sis ordered prawn delight penne, Lyn ordered ham and mushrooms penne, BIL had bolognaise spaghetti, Ry had “The Lot” pizza in medium size and I had seafood penne in cream sauce that came with scallops, prawns, white fish, garlic and chilli.

While eating, sis and BIL said that the seafood starter that I ordered the night before at Maisie’s cost only A$20 even though it was upgraded to main course. Then all of us agreed that they charged us wrongly for my portion coz Lyn’s garlic prawns with rice was charged extra due to the upgrade and I saw from the menu that the price for hers and mine should be the same. Anyway, tonight’s dinner was really good and Ry could not finish the pizza so we brought it back. Got back, showered, ate some more mangoes, packed up a little before sleeping around 10pm after finishing “The Lord of The Ring” on tv. Slept with the door closed, fan on low speed and the windows opened a little.

Thoughts: Visit to the beach would have been fun if we actually went into the sea or at least be in swimwear I guess. Dinner was again very good and I have chosen well tonight. Today has to be the one and only day that I had so many mangoes in my life.

Friday, December 2, 2011

2 Dec 11 – Day 8 (Australia Zoo)

Today we went to the Australia Zoo and along the way; we passed by a couple of signboards that say mangoes at A$6 or mangoes at A$10. So BIL said he would buy some on the way back later the day. Reached the zoo and while walking into it, the partially hanging sole of my running shoes decided to drop off. Fortunately, it was a very thin piece that it would not affect my walking. Browsed the gift shop and bought a cap for A$19.90 but the weather was cloudy so did not get a chance to wear. Then I saw at the bottom of a rack with some boxes of coasters and a few loose ones with a tag at the side saying that they cost A$4.50 each so decided that I would get two boxes at the end of the tour as Christmas presents for people in office.

Walked into the zoo compound and saw a staff carrying a baby American alligator so sis and I went over to touch it. While touching it, another staff took a photo of us. We walked a bit further and saw another staff carrying a blue-tongue lizard. But there were a couple of other visitors there taking photos so we did not stay to wait. Followed the map and we saw birds, lizards, snakes and so on. While at the koala area, Ry cut his arm and we took a bit of time to clean the blood away and put a plaster for him before continuing with the walk. Most of the time, koalas were seen sleeping on the forks of the gum trees and we assumed that because they were lazy. Read the information provided and learnt that they sleep most of the time because they only feed on eucalyptus leaves which are hard to digest and provide very little energy. Another interesting fact learnt was that baby koalas actually eat their mothers’ poop to get bacteria they need for coping with the toxic from consuming too much eucalyptus leaves which happen to be poisonous.

Animals in the Australia Zoo :

Birds in the Australia Zoo :

Snakes in the Australia Zoo :

We watched the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors show at 11am which lasted half an hour before going to the foodcourt for lunch. Did not know what to eat and did not know if there would be leftovers to finish so I waited till the kids bought their food before I got mine. Lyn bought pizza and Ry had beef sandwich with fries. I bought fish burger with fries and BIL had beef burger with fries. I like the fish burger coz they used the barramundi fish fillet instead of those found in McDonald’s burger. We had a good meal before continuing the walk. Saw another area where visitors could look at koalas more closely and there was even a chance to pat a koala. Since I did not get to cuddle one in Perth and CWS, I took the chance to pat a koala. Their fur was soft and felt like touching a soft toy, I was happy.

Wildlife Warriors Show (Elephants & Snakes) -

Wildlife Warriors Show (Birds) -

Wildlife Warriors Show (Crocodiles) -

Koalas and more koalas :

Then we moved off to the wombat compound where we saw a wombat digging a hole. We also saw a few short-beaked echidnas running around in their compound near the entrance to the kangaroos and wallabies compound. The kids bought two bags of kangaroo food from the vending machine before entering. Compared to the CWS, the kangaroos and wallabies compound here is much bigger but still smaller when compared to the one in Perth. Also the number of kangaroos and wallabies was definitely less than those in Perth. The kids fed the kangaroos and wallabies while we took photos. Everyone got to do the feeding at least once but it seemed that most of the kangaroos and wallabies were not really interested in eating, even if they do, they would pick out the other stuff like oats and leave out the corns.

Wombat, the digger :

Kangaroos in the Australia Zoo :

After that, we went to look for the Tiger Temple and managed to catch the tiger show where audience were told the various behaviours of tigers. The staff used milk to get the tigers to show the various behaviours. After the show, visitors were told that there would be limited edition souvenirs on the tigers available at the corner to raise fund to save the wildlife tigers. Bought three photo-postcards at A$1 each while Ry bought a tiger soft toy and sis bought a coin pouch from the souvenirs pushcart nearby.

While at the Tiger Temple :

Dangerous reptiles and cute otters :

By the time we were done, it was already 3+pm and we thought we would do the South Africa part of the zoo which was newly opened. But it was only accessible by the train shuttle taken from the train station near the entrance. Studied the map and found a train station near where we were and so waited for it to go to station 2 which was located near the foodcourt. Reached station 2 and walked back to the entrance to go to the gift shop. Upon checking with sis and was told that we would not be visiting the South Africa section. So went straight to the rack I saw in the morning to get two boxes of coasters thinking that each box cost A$4.50. Took a souvenir collar pin for my elder niece, M, and went to make payment. The casher told me that each box of coasters cost A$20 each and I almost wanted to argue with her. Made the payment and went back to the rack to read the tag again and realised that it actually meant that each individual coaster cost A$4.50.

Steve and his family

Ry and BIL were browsing soft toys while Lyn were picking out keychains. After they had picked out three lemur soft toys which BIL said was love at first sight due to the big eyes, some keychains and a couple of small soft toys for Lyn, BIL asked me what soft toy to get for M. Told her I do not know what animals she likes and after walking around a few times, I decided on a bush baby soft toy that was beside the lemurs. While making payment, the casher told us that the eyes of the soft toys were able to glow in the dark, this made BIL even happier. Finally left the zoo and BIL wanted to drive the coastal drive. Along the way, passed by the sign saying mangoes at A$10 so BIL drove in to buy a total of three bags of about 30 mangoes which cost him A$30. Then we went to IGA to get some groceries such as eggs, bacons, butter, some bubble gums for Ry and myself, a pack to dark chocolate rum & raisin Tim Tam and so on.

Continued with the journey and came across a spot with good view so BIL stopped for some photo shots. As it was rather windy out there, only Lyn and BIL went out while the rest stayed inside the car. After some time, they came back to continue with the journey and this time, we passed by a night market. BIL asked if we want to check it out but Ry was the first to object in a loud voice. We went out for dinner later in the evening and BIL said he would be driving to either Maisie’s Seafood and Steakhouse or Bertoni’s Pizza & Pasta. Along the way, we passed by other restaurants and they were all quite packed. Parked near Bertoni’s to enquire about table and was told that we need to wait about 20 minutes.

So BIL drove over to Maisie’s to check the availability and was lucky to get a table for five. Looked at the menu and sis ordered seafood platter for two to share with BIL, Ry asked for clam chowder soup and Suft & Turf while Lyn asked for garlic prawns with rice from the entrée section and upgraded it to main course. When it was my turn, I asked BIL if they would be able to finish the food and he said just order. Therefore, I ordered a seafood starter from the entrée section and upgraded it to main course.

When everyone was shocked when the clam chowder soup was served coz the portion was big and came with bread bowl. Ry took some of the soup and when the rest of the food came, he pushed the soup aside and started eating his main course. My plate was the biggest with seafood such as oysters, mussels, baby octopuses, prawns, a crayfish, fruits and lots of salads and it was chilled. So the rest had hot food while I had to finish the cold food on my plate.

After we were done eating and made payment, Ry chose to walk back with sis while Lyn went with BIL on his car. I walked slowly behind Ry and sis and soon BIL caught up with his car but he overshot to the next block while I made the correct turn back to the apartment. After gotten back to the apartment, I went straight for shower, leaving the rest to do their things. Came to the living room to watch tv, the kids were taking shower in sis’s room and stayed there to watch tv. So I off the lights below and went to bed with my door closed.

Thoughts: Find that Australia Zoo is better than CWS with more animals and we learn more facts about animals through their shows and explanations. Mangoes seem to be abundant, maybe they were in season, however not all were sweet. Some did not have strong mango taste but at least they were not too sour either. Dinner was really good though I would have like my food to be hot.