Friday, December 10, 2010

A story of a woman and her oven (Charis bakes!)

Maybe it was lack of excitement. Maybe it was Julie and Julia. Or maybe it's just because I can! I really do not know what drove me to go on a baking spree this Nov/Dec now that I'm done with the baking. I first mentioned about it on my Facebook Page for my shop to draw a little bit of traffic. I completed my last recipe for the year yesterday two days ago (Update: this post took me two days to complete) and boy has it been a ride! Here are some snippets of the quest written in the form of a journal. If you love how it looks and would like to try it on your own, the links for the recipes are at the end of this post! Enjoy!

Nov 20 - A few days ago I just told everyone I was going "to attempt to try out some of the recipes I receive daily in my inbox: desserts, breads, cookies, cakes - I'm going to try them all!". I haven't started on anything yet - I really need to get the ingredients soon. What on earth is a water bath? Hubs just said he wanted to eat French toasts tomorrow but we just ran out of bread. Lightbulb moment: Why not bake my own bread from scratch?

Recipe - check. Ingredients - check. A mixer I barely know how to use - check.
I think part of the joy of baking is watching it change.
It still amazes me how it can rise to double its size.

Ahh... you can just smell it now :)

Note to self: Always remember to look at back at the recipe again and again.
The beaten eggs that were left forgotten on the side so we had a dry and crispy crust.
And voila! It tasted really good with butter :)
Nov 28 - More than a week has passed since my last baking and still no sign of baking the recipe I so boldly put up. Went out to get a 12-inch round baking tray for the "water bath" but came back with yet another 9-inch tray. I really should get my inches right! Meanwhile, I got a lovely choc chip cookie recipe on my inbox. Gotta try 'em!

Was thinking all my artsy fartsy shots only to realize (yet again!) I forgot to insert the memory card. So we fast forward to hubs helping out to stir in the chocolate chips. 
This is actually the 2nd batch of cookies. We got smarter the 2nd time round and put the cookie dough further apart. Who knew they would expand so much and stick to their neighbours?

We had 4 trays of cookies in all so hubs brought some to the office. There has been talk if I could join in as one of the 4pm tea ladies for their office. Hmm...

Probably the worst part about baking is the washing up until someone
invents a flour/dough-free spray. 
Dec 05 - I now have all the ingredients ready (thanks to a visit to Chinatown) but no occasion to bake it for. Who would've thought that besides a water bath it needs to be chilled overnight? So anw, we invited our friend Yumi for dinner again and this time she cooked and I played sous chef. So I thought, hey, let's bake an apple pie for dessert! 

I was going to make the pie crust from scratch and I thought I'd know how since I've done it before. But two tries later and still I wasn't getting the right result so some damage control was needed.

Because I couldn't get the crust right, it turned out flaky and not soft, almost
like eating an English scone. Nevertheless, the recipe for the filling was great
(minus the nutmeg) so it turned out OK anw. Oh, I didn't have a pie dish either :D

A close-up of how it looked like. I used green apples for this as
I didn't like it to be too sweet.
Here's how it looks like all prepped up for hubs. He likes it with his
ice cream and chocolate syrup. Certainly not something you can eat everyday.

Nov 07 - I bought a whole chicken last week thinking that I could try using the rotisserie rack on our oven. Nope, I don't even know if that thing still works but I'm gonna try it. It must be an easy recipe so I won't be overwhelmed the first time. Now, how do I get the chicken to stay in one place? 

The chicken had been marinated overnight with the spices called for
in the recipe using a ziplock bag. It really takes in the flavour that way.
The answer to my question above. An article online says to use a
lemon/onion in the hollow of the chicken so that  it would stay in one place.
Can't look a chicken in the same way ever again.
After almost an hour in the oven. I should get some of those strings to
tie the chicken's feet and wings. It was "flailing" inside as it was
turning and it was not a good sight.
There's the onion.
And here's the final result. It looked good on the outside until I
started to carve through. It wasn't fully cooked inside! I should invest in one of these.
Dec 07 - I must be crazy, going on the last recipe on the same day I just did the chicken. Maybe that's why I fell sick the next day, what with all the heat from the oven. So finally I come to the recipe that started it all off. And I had to try my best since I plan to share it with our Bible Study group. 

Presenting: the Triple Chocolate Truffle Cake. 

The starting wasn't too bad... until the gas ran out. Then I had to melt
the chocolate in the microwave which I think might have
caused those bubbles on the surface.

Preparing a "water bath" for the cake.
This is my first time doing something like this!
After baking for about 45 mins, you can see that it has set in nicely .
I couldn't wait to taste it the next day. Left to chill overnight in the fridge.
The next day, melted some milk choc chips with heavy cream to make the
ganache for the cake. Love how it just spreads so nicely and so shiny!
My last recipe for the year. Triple Chocolate Truffle Cake.
Dark chocolate for the bottom, milk chocolate for the ganache
and shredded white chocolate for the topping.
To conclude this long and hot journey, it was certainly no mean feat to go on a baking spree. Learnt a lot about baking in general. What I do know that this won't be the last you'll hear of the woman and her oven. So, watch this space for the next one ;)

All baking recipes above were done using recipes from

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where's the miracle (Sam speaks)

A guy wanders the world in search for a miracle. He shouts out loud! "Show me a miracle".
He then realizes it when he sees another person without hands and feet that he is a miracle.

Look at your hands, your feet, your nose, your feet, your hair. Perfectly and wonderfully made. 

Be grateful for who you are. 

Here in Bangkok, beggers and homeless are aplenty. What can one do to be the miracle to them. 

A thought a day. Inspired by the likes of Tony Melendez and Nic Vujicic.
Good night.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New place, new discoveries (Charis tweetblogs)

Finally! After a month in this new place, we have settled down. No more unpacking, cleaning and bumping into furniture!

As we speak, Sam is going off movies for a week. Running bet is that he'll last only 0.5 hrs, 24 hrs and 3 days. 3 hours and counting.

My nephew is starting to speak. He can sing the "Rain, go away" song and recite the alphabet almost perfectly. I miss him so much! :)

Sales have not been as gd as I had expected on my on9 shop. 2 cut the blues, I baked us sum choc chip cookies & sent sum 2 Sam's colleagues.

 #Bangkok weather is quite tolerable of late. Can't say the same for our building. Consistent water cuts and noisy construction nearby. 

My wishlist for this #Christmas is a sewing machine, an electric piano and something nice. I am, after all, a very simple girl.

Sad that we won't be home for #Christmas this year, but looking forward to a great year-end vacation anw :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Moving Day (in pictures)

I still remember the day we went house-hunting for our first house in Bangkok - back when Sam was preparing to move to Bangkok. This place stood out among them all, not only because of the price, but because it had a closed kitchen. And you know how important that is with Chinese cooking! Here are some pictures of times in the condo and our eventual moving day. Great times, they were! :)

Great place for singing out loud - we had almost the whole floor to ourselves (paparazzi moment).
Both of us in our usual spot watching the tv.

Receiving our first house guest, Mel, and playing Scrabbles together.

Our first dinner guest, Yumi, and a home-cooked meal!

The packing begins! 
It's amazing how much you can accumulate in a year!

I was box lady for a couple of days, trying to get Carrefour to part with their boxes. So we've got grape biscuits, Comfort and Carrefour giant boxes, it was a nightmare getting rid of them.

It took us two cab trips (filled to the brim) and a pickup truck making 2 rounds to get all of our stuffs over.

Some before and after pictures:

Once everything was out of the house, it hit me how much I was going to miss this place :) It was, after all, our first home together. Nevertheless, we'll be expecting to have as much fun in our new place, as the following posts would testify. Stay tuned!

Finally taking a breather after a hard day's work.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our first guest! (Charis writes)

I've been meaning to get our Moving Day pics up but it has been sitting in Draft mode for quite awhile now. Blame the perfectionist in me when it comes to pictures and story-telling. Anw, just to whet your appetite a little, I'm just going to go ahead and skip to posting the picture of our first guest in our new place! Joanne, you were a great guest and thanks for warming up the room with your presence ;) Saw your "thank you" note on the fridge - what a pleasant surprise! :D
Joanne and I posing in front of our book shelf.  On the left you can see the
guest room and oops! the laundry too :D
Will get the other pics up soon, I promise! :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Touch of the Master's Hand

How many of us have ever felt old or worn out, or worse, useless? So many times we turn away from people, things, ideas just because of who/what we think we are (or who/what others perceive us to be). Let this story help you know your worth under the Master's hand. You are priceless.
'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar," then two! Only two?
"Two dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
"Going for three..." But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
"Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
"Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;
"And going and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand
"What changed its worth?"
Swift came the reply:
"The touch of a master's hand."

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A "mess of potage," a glass of wine;
A game - and he travels on.
He is "going" once, and "going" twice,
He's "going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the Master's hand.

by Myra B. Welch (taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Topsy Turvy! (Charis updates)

It's always a treat to have breakfast during dinner. It ranks up there somewhere with ice-cream for dinner (which Sam said he has done before, like what?!) and juicy bacon for breakfast. Our delicious dinner tonight was just that, egg sandwiches with sausage and cheese. And the noble cause for this topsy turvy-ness was to simply finish all food in the fridge! We're busy packing up to move to a new place (yes! we found a place, more on that later) next week and you would think said persons would've remembered not to buy a new carton of eggs, right! But bought 'em I did and now we have to finish them all. 4 down - 6 more to go. 

Our dinner - egg and sausage sandwich 
That's what I've been doing these past few weeks. When my parents were here about 3 weeks back, we visited a seafood market down south of Bangkok (yep, another post!) and I stocked up on lots and lots of fishes. So I've cooked deep-fried fish, steamed fish, sweet and sour fish and really, I've ran out of other fishy ideas! It must be homesickness because suddenly I thought of "yue tao mai fan" - fish head meehoon, one of my favourite dishes to eat during rainy days. So, voila here it is! Not as hard as it looks really! Try it!

Fish head meehoon - the fish is totally wrong but it made a yummy dish anw!
Now is to figure out what am I going to do with the rest of the food in the fridge. What can I cook with 6 eggs, 4 sausages, Ramly burgers, frozen crisscut fries, 2 salted fishes, 2 fishes, pickled green mustard and lots of chicken breasts cuts? Kinda wished I didn't pay so much attention to Housekeeping 101 - Keep a Well-stocked Fridge. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Living the dream (Sam speaks)

I finally write after much persistence from the wife, the man gives in to write something. Not sure if it'll be something that she wants though so here goes :) 

At times like this, I wish I wasn't working at P&G. Why? Here's the background, we've been working on something super exciting for the past few months and we're bringing this to you. If I got an opportunity this like 10 years ago, I'll be go nuts by now and will be obsessed with it for awhile. It could lead to me playing in the big leagues, earning big bucks :)

I've always wanted to know what it feels like to be playing football professionally. It indeed was a super fun game, especially during the days when you weigh a lot less and had tons of energy to burn. 

Ok, so putting selfish ambition aside, we're bringing this dream now to the younger generations of today.

How does this sound: Get trained in a professional football academy in England where legends are made by a professional English Football coach, free tickets to watch one of the greatest games in England, all expenses paid worth RM193,600! Crazy right. 

Presenting: "Live your Football Dream" by Gillette and Head & Shoulders. 

And you know what's the best part? It's going to be super fun and easy to join. I remember we did this video for iBridge camp about 2 years ago and we took this shot in less than an hour (i think) - just the football scene.

Those were good times :)

Anyway, here's your turn. Have a go at it (since I can't due to legal implications hence the "how I wish I didn't work for P&G" part :))

Even if you don't win the Grand Prize, the 2nd and 3rd are pretty awesome as well. Go for it! 

Click on to to know more and kick start it. 

Help me spread the word to whoever would love this.

Joash, you should go for this! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

We are back! (Charis appreciates Sam to do the next update)

Hey, we're back! I've been "appreciating"* Sam to get our blog updated for the past few weeks but without much success. So, I guess I'll have to do the honours again for this post :) 

When in Chiang Mai...

It has been our collective desire to visit pretty much the whole of Thailand whilst we are still here and last month, we managed to cross Chiang Mai off the list (although I would very much want to go there again - back on list!). Unlike Phuket, where we went for our honeymoon, Chiang Mai has activities for the whole family. It has this old-city charm appeal (which reminded me a bit of Hanoi, Vietnam), very laidback, relaxing... lots of history and friendly people. Just like most of Thailand outside of Bangkok, it is not expensive to travel around and you will not have lack of places to go. Some of our pictures are on Facebook but if you're thinking of travelling to Chiang Mai, here are some pre-requisites you'll have to acquire. 

There are 2 things in Chiang Mai locals say you have to try if you want to fully "taste" Chiang Mai. That is, to go up Doi Suthep (Doi in Thai means mountain) and to try their Khao Soi. My language teacher, Khun Ake, first introduced that to me and after checking on the WWW, I found out that it was indeed exclusive to Chiang Mai only! Khao Soi sounds something like "Rice Road" which according to Khun Ake doesn't really mean anything. Sam and I thought maybe it was a staple food of Chiang Mai that can be found at every soi in Chiang Mai. It tastes a bit like our Malaysian version of chicken curry (only sweeter) with thick egg noodles and fried egg noodles on top. It comes with accompanying condiments: pickled cabbage, lime and onions which you should eat with the noodles. According to some locals that we asked, the best ones can be found in the Wararot market near the footbridge over the Ping River. The food court is on the 3rd floor.

Khao Soi
And its condiments
Rent a car and take a ride!

We did just that, rented a car and went for a joy ride to the various attractions in Chiang Mai. We visited their zoo and the newly-installed aquarium. Not only is it really expensive (tourists pay double the price), it is not as well-maintained as the Dusit Zoo in Bangkok and the Aquarium in Phuket and Siam Paragon (okay, we've been to quite a few in Thailand alone :P). So ditch that. I wanted to try the Night Safari, but it was either that or the zoo. Further up from the zoo, is the Doi Suthep temple where you could see a good view of the city. But we were there when it was really misty so all we could see was this:

Okay, on less misty days you were supposed to see the city of Chiang Mai. It ain't called the Scenic Point for nothing! 

If, like me, you had always wanted to go on an elephant ride, Chiang Mai has lots of options for you! For us, we drove to the
Maesa Elephant Camp in the beautiful Maesa Valley for the elephant show and 1 hour elephant ride! Not encouraged if you get motion sickness easily. Man, the ride was really bumpy! And elephants are really smart! I had no idea they could paint...

There are lots more places to go in Chiang Mai, also a great place for woodcraft, handicrafts, any crafts at all! We went to Baan Tawai, famous for their wood craft but as it was a Sunday, most of the shops were closed. What a bummer! Another place worth a visit is the Borsang Village where you have the famous Borsang umbrellas/parasol made of Sa paper. They are famous because of the intricate paintings on the umbrellas itself. We didn't get to go there, but maybe the next time!

Not to be missed is also their red curry pork (hang-lay) which is sweet and just a little spicy (not as spicy as I would like my curry!). We went to this restaurant twice as it came recommended on travel sites and it did not disappoint. It's called Aroon Rai (no it's not an Indian restaurant) and it claims (with right!) to serve the best curry in town. Go try it out, it's on 45 Kotchasarn Rd facing the main street. Lots of parking inside.

And don't forget the Night Bazaar, the Wua Lai Street Market and the Food Market!!!

And after that...

It was back to work for Samuel and a new adventure for me. I've been toying with the idea of starting a little shop selling craft supplies from Bangkok and it's taken a little over a month to come to fruition and voila! It is aliveee!!

It has so far garnered 7 sales and as I am slowly putting in new items inside, I hope to get more in the future! Okay, my intention was just to shortly mention this so we can keep this blog relevant for the both of us and our readers (who are our readers anw?!) so if you want to find out more about what I'm doing, just go to:

There are actually many events that had happened since our last post, like our trip to the Dusit Zoo with the residents of Mercy House, or the continuation of our house hunting (4th agent already!) and my attempts to use both my hands creatively (will post about this soon!). If we have the time, we'll get some of them up. I'm re-appreciating* Samuel to get some updates from his side of the story.

*Sam and I had learned before marriage to ask things of each other politely. Instead of Do This and Do That, we would start our sentences with "I'd appreciate it if...". For example: "I'd appreciate it if you didn't leave any surprises for me in the toilet in the morning". It works! :D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A rainbow after every storm (Charis posts)

Pleasant little things that can cure many a homesick heart:

Alas, they do not have good ol' IKEA here in Bangkok (although I've read snippets that the Swedish DIY-furnitures are coming to town!). The nearest they have is HomePro Plus which has just about everything you need for your house. The one I normally go to is in a 5-storey building connected to the Ploenchit BTS station. Although the prices are not as cheap and attractive as in IKEA, it does have a good variety of home improvement items and you are certainly spoilt for choice with what they have. What I miss, though, is the IKEA cafeteria with their fried chicken wings and free-flow of good coffee! 

Caught in a heavy downpour after class one day, I decided to hop into a mall, grab a latte and wait for the rain to stop. I decided to eat at a store called "Sang kaya" or something like that, selling toasted bread with various spreads such as peanut butter, chocolate, sang kaya and butter - the usual. Sang kaya is a Thai custard dessert not unlike our Kaya on toast spread which we normally have for tea/breakfast. It tastes the same, just a little more egg-yolky and sweet. You can see how generous they were with the serving too! The buns were literally swimming in the custard! Because it was sweet, it went well with my latte (less sweet) and I ended up just slurping the custard and ditching the bread. You can find this in the food court in Emporium Mall (Phrom Phong BTS station).

Every weekend, Samuel and I will ask each other the same question: What to eat today? We've been to several places now because of that - and last weekend found us in Siam Paragon. How surprised we were to find that Toast Box is in Bangkok! Okay, although they were not really serving Malaysian food (Toast Box is under the BreadTalk group in Singapore & listed on SGX), they were serving nasi lemak! The dish is not the best (one of my favourite is the nasi lemak in Village Park, Damansara Uptown) but the rice is acceptable - I always judge them by its rice and sambal. You can find them in Siam Paragon's Food Hall and have a nice view of the workers baking for BreadTalk.

Getting dizzy? This is the normal crowd you will expect on weekends in the malls. Just like back home, the malls are always crowded with people young or old. In Bangkok, you add in the number of tourists here, yet one cannot imagine that an estimated 200,000 people visit Chatuchak Market each day! 

I mentioned in an earlier post of the rainy season we are currently experiencing here. This picture was taken in our balcony during a heavy downpour which lasted for just half an hour. This has been happening quite frequently now, 20 mins of rain and suddenly the sun comes out again before the final curtain. 

This was taken just after a downpour and when the sun came out again. I always liked the outdoors after a heavy rain, it's almost as if all the filth and "old-ness" have been washed away along with the rain. And the best thing about it is sometimes, the rain leaves behind some treasures... 

A rainbow after every storm, that's what I want.