Thursday, 26 February 2009

Banana & Choc Chip Bread Pudding

I know a friend, who knows a friend, who works in a bakery. Every now and then, I get loaves of freshly baked bread loaves delivered to my door step, in a large black garbage bag. The bakery bake their bread fresh every morning and they don't keep any leftovers, so staff get to bring them home or most often, they make their way to the homeless. I feel a little guilty sometimes, prying these free loaves of bread from the homeless. BUT someone I know also tells me that the homeless are THAT sick of bread they don't want them anyways! Hmmm... I don't know!

So occasionally I play tetris with bread loaves in my freezer until I think of new ways to make them delicious again, without being too boring.

Last night, I had to whip out a quick dessert for some last minute dinner guests and this is what I made. (Which, by the way, is dangerously dense, custardy, uber-bananaresque and super studded with choc was heavenly!) I love bread pudding in any form it's made really, it's one of the most comforting, warming and rich dessert. Anyways, this is the recipe:


10 thick slices of day-old white bread (or in my case, defrosted)
60g butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or more)
2 ripe bananas, chopped
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 cups milk (you can use 1/2 cup of cream and 2 1/2 cups of milk for a creamier pudding)
1 tbsp demerara sugar - optional

  1. Generously butter an ovenproof baking dish.
  2. Thickly slice the bread and trim off the crust. I then cut them into 4 small triangles. Generously butter the bread. (OK, maybe you'll need more than 60g!)
  3. Evenly layer the bread in the dish until the base is covered.
  4. Sprinkle cubed bananas and 1/2 the chocolate chips over the bread.
  5. Layer remaining bread triangles and make it look pretty!
  6. Top with the rest of the chocolate chips. If you like, you can sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top. I didn't add anymore sugar. I figured the banana and chocolate itself would be enough to sweeten the pudding.
  7. Make the custard: Whisk eggs, milk and vanilla essence together.
  8. Pour custard over bread layers and let it stand for 30 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  10. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

Served warm with vanilla ice-cream - or - lashings of chocolate sauce - or - both. Needless to say, my guests left in a sugar coma, but forever enamored with this dessert.

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Sunday, 22 February 2009

KitchenAid vs. Kenwood Chef

I grew up alongside the Kenwood Chef. I remember my mom using her ancient chef, baking cakes after cakes, loaves after loaves and all her other goodies. It works like a tank, tireless, effortless, efficient and always reliable. When I arrived here in Australia a little more than a decade ago, I dream of owning the Kenwood Chef. Just because I know her so well! I know which button to push and which knob to turn, with my eyes closed. Heart.

Anyways, I did. I got my chef on my twentieth birthday. The BEST ever birthday present. (Since Lachy was born 2 days after my 27th birthday, he didn't count as a birthday present!) That was 10 years ago. My chef has served me for a decade. WOW. It was the Classic Series, stainless steel bowl and body. At that time, it still cost about $700 (me thinks).

One Christmas not so long ago, my husband surprised me with yet another stand mixer, the KitchenAid Artisan Series. *gasp* Surely I don't NEED another mixer, since the chef has been ever so faithful and trusted. A girl can look can't she? Well, I do rant about the KitchenAid quite a lot only cos it looked ohh so snazzy, ultra handsome. Every time I walk past one at the shops, I have to STOP for at least 5 minutes to have an ogle. Although I am very MUCH married, I still LOOK at hot guys. That doesn't mean I MUST have other guys in my life! Same deal.

Anyways, I'm not complaining. I love my husband. He knows his way to food my heart. Now I've used both, here are the good and bad points of each machine:

Kenwood Chef

PROS: SO easy to use. I can do a tango with it! I like the pop-up spring head lift. It has a powerful 700 watt motor. It is so hardy.

CONS: It works like a tank, it sounds like one too. Every time I use it, I can hardly hear myself think. The bowl is quite large, so not so suitable for smaller quantities. I find that there's always a small amount stuck at the bottom of the bowl.


PROS: Ultra sleek, it just screams out "look at moi". It makes me feel like a celebrity chef. It's a lot quieter than the chef. The bowl comes up narrower, so better for smaller quantities, say creaming 125g of butter. If I were to use the chef, they will ALL end up at the bottom of the bowl.

CONS: Huh? Oh OK, one. The motor head is quite heavy and not spring loaded. So every time I need to scrape down the bowl or lift up the head, it's like uuugggghhhh! That's it!

Generally, I think they both work the same. Both come with a K-beater, balloon whisk, dough hook and a splatter shield. And there's like a million attachments you can add, like a meat mincer, food processor, nail file, foot spa...etc.

So, if you had to buy one... Which one will you choose?

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Steakhouse at NewQuay, Docklands

I took my husband out for dinner on our 5th Wedding Anniversary, 'cept he drove us there and paid for dinner.

I chose the restaurant, Steakhouse at NewQuay, Docklands. They're famous for their top quality Australian Beef. These are their selection of steaks:

Arabica Dusted Yearling Grade Beef:
• Rib Eye 350g: $30 • Eye Fillet 220g: $32 • Porterhouse 280g: $26 • T- Bone 500g: $32
M.S.A Prime Beef:
• Porterhouse 280g: $34 • Rib Eye 350g: $38 • Scotch Fillet 300g: $35
Certified Australian Angus Beef:
• Porterhouse 280g: $42 • Rump 350g: $34 • Boneless Prime Rib 300g: $39
Black Angus:
• Eye Fillet 350g: $66 • New York Strip Loin 450g: $58
• Porterhouse 300g: $95.00

We had some oysters to start. From left: Kilpatrick, Peri-Peri and Bloody Mary, three of each. My personal favourite was the baked oysters in spicy peri-peri. The sauce so spicy and tangy, and the oysters still tender and plump. Gary liked the Kilpatrick. Guess who had the last Bloody Mary? It was ME! I looooove oysters!

It had an open kitchen, the steaks are flame grilled right before our eyes. Wide screen TV's lined the wood panelled walls, feasting our eyes with live-time TV of our steaks being licked by the flames while we waited. Hungry.

I had the prime rib with field mushroom sauce, and hubby chose the M.S.A. rib eye with a spicy pepper sauce. The steaks were flavoursome, a tad too salty. Gary's steak was done to perfection (medium), mine was a little overdone. I thought it was more medium well than medium. Overall, I still enjoyed them. Pity though, what a waste of good steak!

All their steaks are served on a potato gratin. Delicious!

And we ordered a side of broccoli with crumbled feta (which tasted and LOOKED more like parmesan!) O.o

What I find though is that there are a lot of hidden extra costs. Like a weekend surcharge of 10%, sauces to go with your steaks are $5.50 more, vegetables $7.70 and even water cost $6! The bill came up to $150 for two and we didn't even order anything extravagant. Thank goodness for the entertainment card, we had one of our mains for free.
The waterview, priceless. But wait, maybe that was also an added extra. Must go and check the receipt.
We had a lovely time though.
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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Happy Anniversary Babes!

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary.

This day 5 years ago, Gary and I exchanged our vows in our very own backyard. This very house we're living in. It was a memorable day, a simple ceremony with family and close friends, (Followed by a VERY elaborate, not one but THREE chinese banquet receptions spanning two countries! Enough spread for an issue of the Australian Women's Weekly!).

This morning, we attended the wedding rehearsal of Gary's brother and his soon-to-be wife. It was sweet and lovely, and it brought back happy memories of my big day.

Gary, I give my love to you,
And will be open to your love in return.
I would like to share in your dreams,
And for you to share in mine.
To give help when you need it,
And to ask for help when in need.
To support you in all your endeavours.
To share in your joys and sorrows.
In the presence of our family and friends,
I ask you Gary, to be a friend,
companion and lover throughout my life.

These words, spoken 5 years ago, held true to every word till today.

I love you babes, and always will.
Happy 5th Year Anniversary!

The Apache Wedding Prayer

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Frogdancer's Book Drive

Today, I'd like to point you over to Dancing With Frogs.

Frogdancer is a mother of 4 boys, a school teacher, a person with a very very big heart. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

She is running a book drive for Jarryd, a son of her friend Judy in Traralgon, whose home has been burnt down to the ground, leaving behind only the dishwasher full of unwashed dishes. Read about it here.

Jarryd is an avid reader who hopes to be a writer one day, his library now in ashes. So she's come up with a list of books on her blog, in hope that her readers would be able to help rebuild Jarryd's book collection.

Here are some of the books from the list:

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
James Joyce

Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte

The Tin Drum
Gunter Grass

Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable
Samuel Beckett

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Fathers and Sons
Ivan Turgenev

Joseph Conrad

Toni Morrison

An American Tragedy
Theodore Dreiser

Vladimir Nabokov

The Golden Notebook
Doris Lessing

Samuel Richardson

Hop over to see the whole list. CLICK HERE.

If you're able to help, just drop her a comment and she'll send you Jarryd's mailing address.

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Monday, 16 February 2009

Weekend Dinner

Over the weekend, we had some special guests over for dinner. It was an impromptu Valentine's date.

I bought some lovely pieces of Rib Eye Steak, its meat so marbled and tender. I didn't do much for the marinate, just some TLC: a rosemary and garlic massage, a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper.

Chuck them on a cast iron griddle and sizzle!

Our guests made this lovely salad of mixed lettuce and craisins, with shaved parmesan and a light and refreshing honey mustard vinaigrette.

This is my hubby's all time favourite: Golden roasted potato wedges, again with very simple flavours: rosemary and garlic.

Dinner is served with a side of eggplant parmigiana. This was a quick throw together. I had some leftover bolognaise sauce from the previous night's dinner. So I just thickly sliced some baby eggplants, put them under the grill with some olive oil and mixed dried herbs. When they're cooked through, I layered them in a baking dish with the sauce and baked in the oven topped with breadcrumbs and cheese. This was my first attempt and I'm loving it.

Dinner is complete with freshly baked white bread.

Pulled apart, all soft, warm and gooey.

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Saturday, 14 February 2009

Of Bushfires, Generosity and Hope

There is an eerie feeling. The moon is red, as if reflecting the fire still burning uncontrolled in some areas in Victoria.

So far, the bushfires have burned through 413 000 hectares of land and destroyed at least 1834 homes since Saturday. The death toll hangs at 181. But there're hundreds more still missing.

Today, thick smog hangs in the air. Even with all our windows and doors shut, the smell lingers in our house just like burning incense. It is just chilling to know that fires are still burning uncontrollably at Kinglake, Yea-Murrindindi, Maroondah-Yarra, Bunyip, Churchill and Beechworth-Murmungee.

There are also a few blazes reported in Ferntree Gully, not far from where we live. I get the shivers every time I hear sirens, and it seems ever so often today.

Just mind-numbing. I could not NOT imagine the terror when tragedy strikes, when the flames engulf your home and there's no where to run.

There has been a fundraising frenzy in Victoria. Last night, there was a fundraising telethon on Nine Network. People all over the world have opened their hearts and given generously. Donations and pledges to the Red Cross Bushfires Appeal amount to almost $80 million so far. The rebuilding has begun.

There's one other thing you can do. Wear a yellow ribbon as a symbol of your support for the bushfire victims.

Photo taken using hubby's Nikon D3, 70-200mm with teleconverter. (Whatever that means!)

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Friday, 13 February 2009

35th Wedding Anniversary

My parents celebrate 35 years in marriage today.

35 years of dedication, allegiance, commitment, faithfulness, unconditional love.

Mom and Dad, we look up to you both with much admiration. You are truly our role models.

Happy 35th Anniversary Mom and Dad! Wishing you both years and years of happiness and good health.
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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Toilet Training

"Lachie do you want to do wee wee?"

I must have said this about two hundred times a day. I am sick of hearing myself say it!

The hype here is to WAIT for the right moment to toilet train.

Now must be the right moment, is it not? Lachie will turn 3 end of April. And he will be starting pre-kinder when he turns three. However, he seems disinterested and would rather do it in nappies! He definitely knows it when he does a poo because he would run to a private corner and would NOT surface until he gets detected AND defected to the change room!

I just NEED to get the ball rolling (no matter how daunting it may seem) because 1. I'm sick of changing a million and one nappies a day. 2. Our bin is ALWAYS overflowing and half of its content guessed it! and I can't imagine what we're doing to the landfill. 3. I just have to.

So last week, we went to Target and bought him a pack of 10 "big boys undies" and gosh he was thrilled about them. They have pictures of airplanes all over and he couldn't stop showing off his undies.

So far so good. We still have accidents. Well, at least once or twice a day, which may seem like not much but you see, we have carpet in our lounge room and bedroom. So maybe I'm too highly strung about it. I should take one step back and NOT ask him every 5 minutes.

He is doing pretty well wee-ing in the toilet like a big boy. He steps up on his Ikea stool, aims perfectly and even do a little jiggle when he finishes! When he does it, I sing praises like a mad woman!

I don't know how much longer it will take, but I can definitely see the end.

"Mommy, I can't do poo-poo in the toilet becaaaaause (he likes to accentuate the caaaause part), my bum-bum gets wet and Nemo gets flushed down the toilet". Right. He saw Nemo getting flushed down the toilet.
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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Betts Online

Who doesn't need a shopping fix every now and then? It's therapeutic.

Shopping for me has been a dash in and out of Coles, or a quick hour by myself whilst the boys are asleep under hubby's watch when he's working from home. I have learnt not ever to wander into a boutique WITH my two boys, or never ever to go near the Thomas the Tank Engine coin operated ride else we'll be stuck there for eternity.

Recently, when I blog hopped over to one of my favourite site, I came across Karen's Fashion and Shopping Directory. From there, I landed on Betts. Just like any other typical female, I love love love shoe shopping. Before I discovered eBay, my shoes lined the entire length of the walk-in wardrobe. I had to park my car outside of my garage because they're FULL of shoes. The back seat of my car, before having 2 child restraints, have a few pairs of shoes. For work. For shopping after work. For just in case I have a blister from wearing 2 and a half inch heels at the Emergency Department. For gym. For swimming. OK, so I have come to my senses and gave 2 big bags to charity and sold the rest on eBay.

3 mommy years later, my collection has dwindled to flip-flops, sneakers, a few nice pairs of heels for going out, winter boots, a few more pairs of shoes that were too nice to give away or sell on eBay. (OK, so they still line up the entire length of the wardrobe). Hey, a girl's gotta have what a girl's gotta have! Shoes are like chicken soup for a girl's soul. You ALWAYS need another pair or two. So now I've justified my recent spending online, this is what I bought:

And I LOVED it! Every.single.pair! Most importantly it made me happy.

Go on, hop over. They're good for you! Plus they're having a spectacular sale. Bonus.
Free shipping for orders over $85 and free returns for ALL orders.

My wish list:

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Lucas @ 9 months

He said "momma".

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Monday, 9 February 2009

The Blackest Day

Our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones and their homes.

How we can help:

  • DONATE online to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund.
  • Call 1800 811 700
  • Visit any NAB, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac branch
  • ANY Bunnings store
  • By direct deposit to the Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund, BSB 082-001, Account Number 860 046 797
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Friday, 6 February 2009

A new term at Playgroup

Today is the first day back at Playgroup. It was great to see some familiar faces once again, and just as exciting to meet new friends.

One other bit of news. Guess who's pulling up to stand?

He has been doing this for the last couple of days, but becoming more and more steady now. He clambers up his big brother's picnic table and reached for the water bottle and some grapes, then stood there for some eternity until he cries out for help. He doesn't quite know how to get down by himself yet.

Yesterday, he went up 2 steps on our stairs. Somehow I have a feeling it's time to dust the safety barrier from Lachie's days...

Lucas: 8 months and 4 weeks old.
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Thursday, 5 February 2009


I don't believe addiction starts this early in life, but it is happening right here right now. This is the first thing he asks for in the morning, when he wakes up. Where's the DS?

We get into many MANY arguments because of this and here I thought it would only happen in the pre-teen years, like 10 years from now!

Although I could sometimes use it to my advantage, a form of bribery for when I needed him to do something in exchange for 10 minutes of DS. Or if you don't go to the bathroom and get changed right now, there will be NO DS for you for the rest of today! And he would gladly obey.

But somehow, it just doesn't feel right. My mummy radar tells me that my baby boy can't be playing DS! He is way too young, there will be consequences. He will be wearing glasses as thick as my thighs. Or he will soon start fighting ninjas with swords or killing aliens with guns. I.don'

But anyways, to my amazement, this 2.8 year old boy could play Mario Kart although consistently coming in last place and he knows every single character name. His favourite is Princess Daisy. Funny little boy, he likes girls, even in Mario Kart. He knows which button to press to accelerate but is still a little uncoordinated with the cursors. He even knows how to use the stylus for goodness sake!

Sigh, what do I do with him? He's growing up too quickly!

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Leaves are falling off trees at the height of summer.
Not quite as beautiful as autumn. Just dry, parched, withered leaves.

What do we make of this?
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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Food They Love

I used to write Lachie's favourite food in little post-it notes and stick them in the first page of a recipe book. This book is where I got most of my inspirations from: the Australian Women's Weekly Fresh Food for Babies and Toddlers.

It's a great reference book for meal ideas from tips for starting solids and what food to introduce first and when, to home-made family meals from fresh ingredients. I don't usually follow the recipes religiously, substituting this for that. It also has a section at the end for party food ideas and kid's birthday cakes. Good book, and for A$12.95 it's a steal.

Here's a list of what Lachie liked (for my own record and yours!)

  • Pasta
  • Pasta
  • Pasta
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Rice
  • All of the above with NOTHING else, just PLAIN
  • Carbs... alright, you get the drift

Now that Lucas is starting to explore with food and eating a variety of protein, grains, fruits and vegetables, I am revisiting these meal ideas. I have always kept things simple, using just two or three ingredients at any one time, and when they're older I introduce a little more each time. It musn't take too long to prepare, a busy mom I am. 15 minutes tops.

Lucas loved his mush. Lachie hated them. Lucas could eat avocados 6 days in a row. Lachie wouldn't have a bar of it. Lucas loved pea mash. Lachie wouldn't let me mash anything. He likes to hold his food, WHOLE and even up till today, he still eats with his fingers.

Lucas pretty much eats everything and he's always happy with food. The other day, I made cheesy macaroni with tuna and chives and it knocked his socks off! He was as happy as Larry, kicking up his legs and giving me giggles with each bite! He also polished off the entire serving.

Quite easy really. Cook in boiling water, 1 tablespoon of small pasta shapes. I use HEINZ for baby alphabets and numbers. Drain. Add in 90g of tuna with 1 teaspoon of reserved olive oil from tuna. Stir in some grated cheese, chopped chives and 1/4 cup milk. Cook until heated through. OK, maybe quadruple the quantity to make it for the entire family.

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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Sandy Wishes

One of my favourite wishes
Is to play in the sand that squishes
Built a sandcastle and make a sand cake
And leave them in the sun to bake
Will it feel good, do you suppose?
To squish the sand between your toes?


Mentone Beach, Beaumaris Bay
Melways reference 86 J8
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