Merry Christmas

imageCrochet tree made by my DD (11 yr old).

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Fleece Softies

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Felt is easy for children to handle when they first start to sew. It is easily available, comes in many colors, doesn’t fray, it’s thick, yet easy to cut and it’s stiff. It’s stiff. That’s a good thing. But not so good for cuddling. And after a while, felt (I can only find acrylic/polyester felt) starts to pill. Then the whole project just look worn.

Fleece is a better choice as it is softer and better for cuddling. It doesn’t fray either and not difficult to cut. I do prefer fleece for softies. But living in the tropics, it’s not easy to find.  However, I found out recently that Ikea sells inexpensive fleece blankets/throws which comes in a few colors. So far I have acquired it in cream white, red, light blue and Mikey (from Monster Inc) green. I believe I saw one in tiger print too!  These are fantastic for crafts! I don’t remember how much but they were way under $10 each and came in a huge piece!

Last week, we had a workshop, sewing snowman and snow bear by hand. My students (youngest being 5) had no issues handling fleece.

I wish they have it in brown Coz I’m thinking gingerbread man softie would be so cute! As would brown bear!

Oh, and no problem with laundering.  Just put your softie in a laundry bag and toss it in together with the rest of the wash.

Carrot Cupcakes

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I like frosting more than most of my peers. But at the same time I always felt that frosting is used to cover up dry, bland cake. If a cake is good enough, it should be able to stand alone.  For example, brownies. If a brownie is dense, chewy, chocolatey, then frosting it is like *adding legs to a drawing of a snake.

What I am trying to say is that my carrot cake does not need any frosting coz it is yummy on its own.  8D

This is an easy recipe.  Except the grating of carrot part coz I hand grated them on an ancient grater.  I didn’t enjoy that part.  But the eating part, definitely!  It’s moist, tender, and not overly sweet.

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Carrot Cupcakes (makes about 15 cupcakes)

225 g melted butter or 225 ml oil

3 large eggs

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp rum essence

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup flaxseed meal

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2  1/4 tsp baking powder

9 oz grated carrot (about 2 medium size)

1 cup walnut bits

Mix everything together.

Heat up oven to 180c.  Bake in muffin cups for about 20 min.

 

* A Chinese story about a kid who after drawing a snake decided to add on some legs coz he didn’t know what else to draw.

 

Coffee Butter Cookies

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Sometimes you just want to eat your coffee.

This is a variation of my butter cookie recipe.  I threw in a small handful of chocolate chips coz coffee and chocolate go together.  But not too much as this a a coffee cookie, not chocolate chips cookie.

Coffee Butter Cookies

250 g butter (softened)

250 g sugar

2 Tbsp desiccated coconut

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp instant coffee granules

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

pinch of salt

handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Cream butter and sugar until well mixed.  Add in everything.  Mix well.  Dough should not be sticky.  If it sticks to your hands, add in a bit more flour.

Chill dough for at least half an hour.  Scoop teaspoonfuls on a lined cookie sheet.Press lightly at the top to flatten them a bit.

Bake in a 180C oven for about 15 min.  Turn off the oven and let it dry out for another 15 min.  This makes it more crunchy.  It’s optional of course.

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I have collated a list of FAQs that people have asked me.  Hope it helps.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where do I buy softened butter?

Just leave it on the counter top for a little while and it should soften.

2. I chilled my dough like you said and now it’s all hard!  What do I do?

Just leave it on the counter top for a little while and it should soften.

3. My cup is bigger/smaller than yours.  How?

I use a standard measuring cup.  Please get one from the baking shop.

4. Must I dissolve the instant coffee in water first?

No.

5. Must I use the electric mixer to cream my butter and sugar until light and fluffy?

This step is not necessary for cookies.  I just use a wooden spoon and whisk the butter and sugar till well mixed.

6. Can I freeze the dough?

Yes.

7. Why are you so inconsistent? You use cups to measure flour and grams for measuring sugar and butter??

Because it’s faster and less messy for me.  Butter is pre-measured in grams; sugar I usually eyeball using a Tbsp (usually 25g per Tbsp); measuring so much flour in cups is less messy than on a kitchen scale.

8. Can don’t chill the dough?  So troublesome!

Yes.  It’ll still work.  But it probably won’t taste like mine.

9. Your blog is always about baking/chocolate/coconut/sweet potatoes/muffins/cookies.  Don’t you know/make anything else, like real food?

Yes.  But I LOVE baking/chocolate/coconut/sweet potatoes/muffins/cookies.

10. How do you invent/come up with recipes?

I am not afraid to substitute and experiment.  I encourage you to do the same. *wink

 

 

 

Chocolate Coconut Waffles

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Chocolate a day keeps the frown away. 8D

 

Chocolate Coconut Waffles (makes about 8)

250 g plain flour

150 g sugar

1-2 tsp instant yeast

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

pinch of salt

2 eggs

200 ml coconut milk

200 ml water

6 Tbsp coconut oil

Mix everything together and leave to proof in a warm place for about 45 min.

Cook waffle as usual.  Flavorful enough to eat it on its own.  Or with chocolate ice cream!

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Lavender Butter Cookies

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Lavender cookies haven’t exactly hit the market here yet.  Most of us can’t imagine it coz we only get lavender in our soap, perfume and talcum powder.  So when they think of lavender cookies, they will picture a sickening soap-flavored cookie instead.  I have tested my lavender cookies on my friends.  Most of the guys will balk at flower-flavored cookies whereas the women love it. I like it.  The cookie is crunchy, buttery (I use cultured butter) and it’s got a pleasant, mild lavender smell that is nothing like soap.

In this recipe, I made my own desiccated coconut. I do it because I want to avoid sulfur dioxide which is used to preserve color in food that tends to turn brown. For example, dried fruits like apples, mangoes, yellow raisins and coconut contain sulfur dioxide.  It’s just not good for people with eczema.  It’s extra work but it’s not hard work.  Just get skinned grated coconut from the market or grocery store.  Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it on low temperature in the oven until dry.  Store in fridge or freezer.  Of course if you have no issue with sulfur dioxide, then just buy desiccated coconut from the store and make your life easier.

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Lavender Butter Cookies (about 50 bite-sized cookies)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 sticks butter

250 g sugar

1 Tbsp desiccated  coconut

2-3 Tbsp lavender flowers

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar until well mixed.  Add in the rest of the ingredients.  The dough will be soft but not sticky.  If it’s sticky, add in more flour.

Chill for a few hours.

To bake, preheat oven to 180 c.  Bake for about 15 min.  Turn off oven and let it dry out and crisp in the oven for about 15 min.

Lavender

 

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Did you know that 1 lb of lavender is A LOT? Haha….I did.  So I split a bag with my friend. Did you know that 1/2 lb of lavender is STILL A LOT? I never actually visualized the massive amount of lavender… just that 1/2 lb is better than 1 lb! haha. Oh well, think of the endless possibilities, only limited by my imagination! Well, turns out not many share my passion for the little purple flowers.  I triple bagged them and put them in a container.  Now my container permanently smells of lovely lavender.  And when I use it to store my bread, i get lavender scented bread! Aren’t we so clever.

Lavender cookies recipe coming up soon! That would reduce my stash to 1/2 lb minus a whopping big 2 Tbsp.

 

 

Oat Milk and Oat Pancakes

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I found myself in excess of steel-cut oats and rolled oats.  10 kg in excess, to be exact.  How did that happen?  I had grand plans to eat oats everyday.   But it didn’t take off. Hence the 10 kg still sitting in my larder, taking up space. A lot of space. Lately,  I decided that I should really clear them but nobody was keen.  Coz it takes too long to cook, they say.  That was when I figured that if I grind them into powder in my powerful blender, that would give them more surface area and hence cut down the cooking time tremendously! Not only that, suddenly it has become so versatile!  I am using it to make oat milk, oat bread, oat pancake and even for coating my chicken fingers!

Oat Milk (serves 1)

1 Tbsp oat powder

A bit of cold milk

Boiling water

Stir in a bit of cold milk to the oat powder.  This is to prevent lumps, which will happen if you just pour in hot water into the oat powder. Sweeten as desired and drink it warm.  It tastes mild and thickish.  Sort of gives a comforting feel in my tummy.

Oat Pancakes (serves 2)

1/2 cup oat powder

1/2 cup plain flour

1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbsp oil

1 egg

Combine everything together and let it stand about 10 min. Cook as you would regular pancakes.

You can taste the oat flavor but it’s not pronounced.

I am happy to report that after about a week or so, I am now down to 7.5 kg of oats in my larder. lol.

Ondeh Ondeh

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Be careful when you eat this.  Firstly, when you bite into it, it may squirt sugar syrup at others. Secondly, you can never stop at one.  We all love it.  It’s like mochi, covered with grated coconut on the outside and stuffed with coconuty brown sugar.  SO good!  They are made smaller than a ping pong ball because they need to be bite-size.  So that you can pop the whole thing into your mouth.

 

 

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Grated Coconut 

1/2 fresh,skinned coconut, grated

pinch of salt

Mix salt into the grated coconut and steamed on a plate for about 5 min. Put aside.

Ondeh Ondeh (makes about 26)

80 g boiled sweet potato

80 g glutinous rice flour

50 g water (adjust accordingly)

1/2 blk gula melaka (cut into small chunks).

Mash sweet potato and then mix the flour in.  The amount of water given is just an estimate.  Just add in enough to form like play dough consistency.

Divide into 26 pieces.  Flatten and fill with gula melaka.  Close and roll into balls.

Prepare a pot of boiling water.  Put in the ondeh ondeh.  They are done when they float. Then just fish up the floaters and put them straight onto the plate of grated coconut.

Best to let them cool before eating.