Sunday, 28 March 2010
So last week I posted a recipe that got some of my friends (from across the globe) raving. Ben's. Beaut. Brownies. Mouth watering, ultra decadent, mind blowing, chocolatey goodness. It is quite simple to make, it has all the right textures, moist gooey fudgy chocolate inside with a delicate crisp skin. You can't stop them from asking for some more!
So I made them again yesterday. And I thought I might try my hands on this really REALLY simple ice cream recipe that I found on the net ages ago to go with the brownies. Get ready for this, it is SO easy, blink and you will miss it. 2 ingredients 2 minutes. Alright, maybe 3. No need for an ice cream maker, no messing around with egg yolks, no scraping, refreezing, etc.
Home Made Vanilla Ice Cream
600ml fresh pure cream
300ml can of condense milk
1 tsp pure vanilla paste (or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract)
In a mixer, whip cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Turn down the motor and drizzle in condense milk and vanilla. Pour into a 2L ice cream container and pop in freezer for at least 6 hours. And it actually taste like REAL ice cream. Creamy, soft and smooth.
I am in heaven. If I shut out the fact that I'm spooning pure cream and CONDENSE milk into my mouth, to go along with those damn chocolate brownies that you just can't get enough of! Gaaahhhh....
Photo "borrowed" from Singapore (thanks KH & M!) because it looks divine. And that might be err.... Haagen Daz Vanilla Ice Cream! Heh :)
I can't believe it took us two years deliberating on a fence for our front garden and "Mr. Muscles" *wolf whistle* less than 2 days to build it! It is finally done.
When we moved into this house over 6 years ago, we thought less garden means less weeds to pull, less maintenance, more time for other more important stuff. Little did we know that we'll be running out of room so quickly in such a short span of time! (That's too much time spent indoors! O.o Heh)
There's no soft squishy grass to roll around on, no room for a trampoline and JUST enough space for one tiny tricycle to go round and round in circles.
So our lovely neighbours built their fence about 2 years ago and it looked magnificent AND they DID IT ALL BY THEMSELVES! Their kids have a bit more room to roam around freely and it's peace of mind knowing that they will be "safe" from the oncoming traffic. (Although now they effortlessly just jump over the fence).
And with just a little persuasion, I got my own "Mr. Muscles" to agree to help build me my fence. That was 2 years ago. Time constraint, work (a LOT of work), kids etc got in the way and in the end, I gave up waiting and PAID for another set of muscles! He hee hee.... it's all worth it in the end.
Now, I throw the boys OUTSIDE of the house and at the same time keep them IN. It is fully enclosed, complete with a sliding gate. They play basketball out on the driveway, ride their bicycles in bigger circles, play more ball games, mini tennis, mini golf etc. And I get to have the house all to myself. I am completely happy.
Friday, 19 March 2010
I love reading your blog.. and I think your sons are absolutely adorable and seem really smart! Good luck with that, hehe.
Been meaning to ask, now that you're 3rd time preggers.. Why did u choose to do a C-section versus normal birth? For all 3 babies too? Well I'm nowhere near preggers nor married even! But pregnancy is something I kinda fear.. or rather, the labour process. And as age is catching up, well, I do hope to settle down one day and have my own babies.. But whenever I think about the whole labour process, OMG, I faint imagining the pain!
Everyone then says, natural birth is easier to heal, you will forget the pain, it's not that bad, there's epidural, bla bla bla. But considering you were a doctor.. I'm sure you have some good reasons as to your c-secs.. and if it isn't too personal, maybe you can share your views? :) But if it is, I totally understand.. anyways, good luck with the 3rd! Finally a girl. Yay!
So lovely to hear from you! Yeah 3rd time round... and the LAST hopefully. As much as I enjoy being a stay at home mum, (and being preggers is not that bad trust me), I kinda want to reclaim some pieces of my life back!! teeheee....
I went into natural labour with Lachlan and endured 18 hours of contractions, but because my cervix wasn't dilating and the labour wasn't progressing, so I agreed to a C-Section. Also he was a big baby, 4 kgs! And thank goodness I didn't push him out. So yeah, I had the "best of both worlds" (right!) for my first, but for Lucas and 3rd, I just didn't want to go through the same ordeal again. Also, after having 2 caesars, the risk of going through natural labour is much higher (there's a higher risk of the scar in the uterus rupturing). Anyways, it may all sound really REALLY scary.... but it is not all that.
Being preggers itself for me is yucky for the first 2-3 months. Not everyone gets it, but I had bad morning sickness that lasted all day. Come to think of it, I fear getting pregnant because of morning sickness more than actually giving birth itself! LOL. So it's the feeling of nausea, like being sick, pukey yucky sick (SORRY!) and helpless. Then 2nd trimester whizzes by so quickly. And it's like being totally normal....... except your baby bump is starting to show, and you get to be pampered etc. And the last trimester is just "heavy" lugging around that extra kilos. So really, being pregnant is not like you're sick or anything, it is being as normal as possible and enjoying it.
Now "Labour" - sounds like you're going to have a baby in a major construction site! There are three stages of "labour" and everyone goes through it differently. All I went through was just the 1st stage of labour. And even that has three phases. (Oh gawd, all those medical terms, if only I remember!)
From Better Health Channel:
The first stage of labour
The first stage of labour is concerned with the thinning of the cervix and its dilation to around 10cm. The different phases include:
- The latent phase - generally, this stage is the longest and the least painful part of labour. The cervix can thin out over weeks, days or hours and be accompanied by mild contractions. The contractions may be regularly or irregularly spaced, or else you might not even notice them at all.
- The active phase - the next phase is marked by strong, painful contractions that tend to occur around three or four minutes apart and last up to a minute or so. The cervix dilates to around 7cm.
- The transition phase - the contractions become more intense, painful and frequent. It may feel like the contractions are no longer separate but running into each other. The cervix may take around an hour or so to dilate the final 3cm. It is not unusual to feel a strong urge to go to the toilet as the baby’s head pushes against the rectum.
Once the cervix is dilated to around 10cm, the second stage of labour can begin. The contractions should now be regular and spaced apart, so that you can relax between them (as best as you can). As each contraction builds to a peak, you may feel the urge to bear down and push. The sensation of the baby moving through the vagina is described as a stretching or burning, particularly as the baby’s head crowns (appears at the vaginal entrance). Once the head has emerged, the delivery staff will turn the body to deliver the shoulders. The rest of the baby will then slip out. The second stage of labour typically lasts around 15 minutes to one hour.
The third stage of labour
The placenta is then delivered, usually five to 30 minutes later. Your uterus gently contracts to loosen and push out the placenta, although you may not be able to feel these contractions.
The first ??12-14 hours is not bad really, it's like having crampy period pains that comes and goes in intervals. It's like hey I need to poo but there's no poo, just a huge lump of head pressing onto my rectum. It's not like screamy GET OUT pain, but more like a discomfort. So that "18 hours of labour" that I endured wasn't particularly like GET ME OUT OF HERE pain! LOL. It's hard to explain. Even when I went to medical school, it all wasn't making much sense to me until I actually went through the whole process....hehee... The pains started to get worse and more intensed in the second active phase, and it's just frustrating because the cervix remained at 3-4 cm and not dilating further.
You're right, there's all sorts of pain relief goodies out there now, and don't be afraid to use them. They're being invented for a reason. USE THEM!! And then by the 18th hour (honestly, I don't remember much of what goes on between the 14th - 18th hour! Probably drugged out and exhausted), I just nodded my head quicker than the bullet train when doc suggested a caesar. And I swear, when the spinal (just another form of epidural) went in, I would jump up to kiss the anaesthetist (pain doctor) if I could feel my legs, but I couldn't. So yeah, into the operating theatre and Lachlan came out 20 minutes later.
You are right about the recovery time. I am always envious of the moms who had normal labour and delivery, and on that same day look like they've just been back from a spa retreat, a nice hair do and a facial! All radiant and glowing with new bubba. So the recovery for a caesar is quite painful, and it takes time. It IS a major abdominal surgery after all. So I do advocate GO FOR NORMAL if you can, afterall it's been done for centuries! LOL. Good luck!!!
And for more reading.... go here: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pregnancy_stages_of_labour
Oh am I that long winded? Now can I publish this on my blog?? :O XOXOXOX
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
I came across this from one of the blogs that I love to read, Karen Cheng's Snippets of Life. I thought it was absolutely hilarious... and tragic. But so true...
The Evolution of Parenthood
Your Clothes -
1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes are your regular clothes.
(Although, at the moment, I feel like throwing out every single maternity wear that I have UGH!!)
The Baby’s Name -
1st baby: You pore over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favourites.
2nd baby: Someone has to name their kid after your great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.
3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger falls. Bimaldo? Perfect!
Preparing for the Birth -
1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don’t bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn’t do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.
The Layette -
1st baby: You pre-wash your newborn’s clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby’s little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can’t they?
(Girls can wear blue, sure they can!)
1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby’s bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.
1st baby: You change your baby’s diapers every hour, whether they need it or not.
2nd baby: You change their diaper every 2 to 3 hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.
1st baby: At the first sign of distress – a whimper, a frown – you pick up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.
3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.
1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.
Going Out -
1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times.
2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.
At Home -
1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a bit of every day watching to be sure your older child isn’t squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.
Friday, 12 March 2010
Because we're losing our sleep...and sanity.
So where are we at in this huge sleeping debacle in this household? Firstly, Lucas moved into the same bedroom as Lachlan. This was a big step for Lachlan, as it was he who was having sleeping through problems. We thought Lucas might teach him a thing or two about sleeping on his own and in his own bedroom. They then took turns waking each other up, and it did not stop Lachlan from running to our bedroom still in the wee hours of the morning. One good thing though, is that they fall asleep on their own. But not without mucking around for up to an hour before sleep time, which can drive you up the wall because they end up jumping on the bed, pulling curtains down, throwing pillows around, taking turns doing poos, wees etc.
Now, Lucas is climbing OUT of his cot, the one thing that could jail him in (More like our "get out of jail free" card). He pulls himself up and swing himself around and out he gets! This meant gaaaaaaaaahhhhh we could no longer MAKE him go to sleep on.his.own. And one other thing, he likes to strip himself butt naked, including pants, nappies and all. Just imagine our horror walking into the bedroom to see a naked toddler tarzan himself out of the cot, swinging on the curtains, toys, pants, nappies strewn across the room.
THE WITCHING HOUR!
So last week, we took apart the cot, make it a big deal for Lucas that he has graduated to a big boy's bed. So he can freely climb in and out of his bed, when he wish. Now we have not ONE but TWO pitter patter feet running to our bedroom in the wee hours of the morning.
The saga continues....
Thursday, 11 March 2010
When I make bolognese, I generally make a huge pot and there's so much stuff in it! The Italians might scream blue murder at me for calling this a "Bolognese Sauce", but oh well, it's my version of it anyways. These are only rough measurements as I sometimes use more or less of the meat/vegetables, depending on what I have.
500-600g good quality beef mince
300-400g good quality Italian sausages (Sometimes I use Spanish chorizo and they smell absolutely divine)
2 large brown onions, chopped finely
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks of celery, chopped finely
2 medium carrots, chopped
6 - 8 tomatoes, chopped (depending on the season, or how much I have growing in my backyard. In winter, I just use bottled/canned crushed tomatoes - 2 x 600g cans)
1 tsp allspice - cinnamon/nutmeg/clove (sometimes omitted)
2 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine (sometimes omitted)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Splash or two of extra virgin olive oil
A handful of bay leaves, but ever since my bay leaf tree died (yes it died! sob sob... from the drought, and Gary was building a gate near it, the mortar probably affected some of its root system) I used a few sprigs of rosemary instead.
I don't know what it is about (most) mums and their obsession with getting vegetables in their kids' diet, and I admit, I am one of them. So sometimes I do grate some zucchini to be added into the sauce, or chuck in a can of beans or pulses. Gaaahhh.... those damn hard poos! So you see, the sauce generally varies depending on the situation and what I have in the fridge or pantry but the main ingredients remain the same.
I also keep some bottled pasta sauce in the pantry and may add them in depending on the thickness of the sauce.
So I brown the meats in a large heavy based pan, with a splash of olive oil, and then remove and set them aside. With a bit more oil in the same pan, I add the onions and garlic and saute them until they're soft and translucent, lifting up bits of caramelised meat at the bottom and sides of the pan. I then throw in the celery and carrot and saute until they're soft, adding a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the white wine if using, and simmer for a little while. The alcohol content in the wine would have all evaporated by the time it's finished cooking anyways because it is such a long cooking process.
And then all I do is return the meat and its juices back into the pot, and throw everything else in including the tomatoes, paste/passata, whatever else I am using (except the beans) and let it simmer gently for about an hour.
While this is happening, I could sit back and relax for a little while,
So what do I do with so much leftover sauce anyways? Aaahhh.... the possibilities are endless!
1. They freeze very well, so sometimes it is kept frozen as emergency food.
2. The boys love pasta, so they can have it on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.... haha, kidding!
3. Lasagne. I usually just make a tray of Lasagne for the next day anyways. Or if there's a dinner party the next day or so, it is such an easy dish to bring or serve. Oh yeah baby, I just whipped up a tray of Lasagne, just like that! ;)
4. I made Moussaka the other day, after watching Better Homes and Gardens, and remembering that I had leftover meat sauce in the fridge. All I did was cut the eggplants in 1cm slices. Sprinkle some salt all over the sliced eggplant and set them aside for 10 minutes. This is to get rid of the excess fluid. Rinse them under some cold water and pat dry with a tea towel. Grill them with some olive oil. And then layer the grilled eggplant with the Bolognese and some bread crumbs and bechemel sauce. Top with some grated cheddar and Parmesan. Bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes or so. Mmmmmm.....
To make the Bechemel sauce, melt equal quantities of butter and plain flour in a pot, stir until it resembles wet bread crumbs. Whisk in 3 cups of warm milk, with a pinch of ground nutmeg and stir until thick. Add in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup of grated cheddar. Stir until melted through.
I just looooove eggplants!
There you go! That's THE secret sauce that my boys loooove so much. (They really dislike eggplants though, the big boy included) So really, I have the moussaka all to myself! Slurp!
Monday, 8 March 2010
This is Lucas. Remember him?
He turns 22 months today. Oh boy, how time flies. It wasn't too long ago when I had him in my arms, he had me at the first hello. He was such a good baby. Easy, slept and fed well, and when he smiles he just melts your heart. On his trip overseas, he had his grandparents, his uncles and aunties, his cousins smitten, twisted around his little finger. And yet, he is still this little Mr. independent always wanting to do things for himself. Sometimes it works against us, like when we're eating at a busy hawker centre, he would rather pick up slushy noodles with his bare hands and eats it himself rather than us feeding him. Eekkk.... But most of the time back home, it is just so so good. Plonk him down on his chair and off he goes with his food, now with a spoon and fork!
And he is just such a good eater, people would usually stare in amazement how much food this little tum can guzzle down! It's like there's a monster in his tummy.
He gets everywhere and into everything now! I don't even remember Lachlan being so active physically when he was at the same age. Lucas knows that if he grabbed the stool from the bathroom, he could reach the higher shelves in the pantry, or climb up the kitchen bench and help himself with a muffin or two. He knows that if he wedge his ride along toy in a corner, between the wall and the safety gate (that is to stop him from going into the front lounge area), he could climb over the gate and be free. He could climb up the change table from the bathtub, and yell out "DONE!" telling you he's done with his bath. And often he gets stuck in tight corners, like behind the TV where all the electrical wires are hanging out.
But. He is not exactly more accident prone than his brother. He is just so much more active, getting into more mischief and getting himself into more trouble.
He is a toughy. He fights with his older brother (ALL THE TIME!) and wins. He gets punished, but he is still defiant, he shows you that nothing you do is going to get at him. And this send me into boiling point EVERYDAY. He knows the things he's not supposed to be doing (like climbing behind the TV cabinet), but still looks at you with a look of mischief and does it to get attention. I guess that's what he is doing, attention seeking. And he gets it. From scolding, to time out in the laundry to little smacks on his hand. It doesn't work! You smack his hand, he holds out the other hand for you and say "more!". He wants ONE MORE SMACK??? Gaaaaahhhh.....
So now I try to ignore him. Ignorance is bliss. I switch the TV off and the mains off if he goes behind the TV. I take his toys away if he misuses it. I think it's working... I don't know.
I've forgotten when he started talking, but he does! He is a walking parrot. He repeats everything you say. His favourite at the moment is "NO" like any other toddler I guess. But he counts from 1 - 10 in English and in Cantonese. He sings ABC. He loves Baa Baa Black Sheep. He loves singing! Especially bedtime. After we say our good nights, I plonk him down in his cot and he sings out LOUD for at least 30 minutes before there's silence. He knows (snippets of) the lyrics to Frankie Valli's "You're Just to Good to be True" and Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" (thanks to Guitar Hero).
So yeah. This is Lucas at 22 months.
Sunday, 7 March 2010
3 issues came. And they were great. I love the mixture of recipes from simple everyday menus that are kids friendly to luscious celebrity chef recipes that is set to wow dinner guests. The layout is great, the pictures, everything! I thought, maybe I should subscribe. So here's the twist. The magazine never stopped coming. After 3 issues, they kept coming, and I've received 6 so far. Score! I hope they keep coming... :)
So anyways, here's a recipe from the November 2009 issue of delicious. magazine I would like to share with you.
A twice cooked chocolate brownie, by Ben O'Donoghue.
350g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
350g unsalted butter, chopped
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped (I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract)
2 cups (440g) caster sugar (1 used 220g)
1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour
1 2/3 cups (250g) chopped macadamias
Icing sugar and vanilla ice-cream to serve
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line the base of a 36cm X 26cm slice pan.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Cool slightly.
I call this the bowl of sin. Yes, there's more than a whole block of butter in there, but when it's mixed in with a whole lot of 70% cocoa Lindt Chocolate, there is no stopping me licking the spoon and a little bit of the corner of the bowl clean. Hey, try stopping a pregnant woman with a chocolate craving from doing that, that in itself is a sin! But wait... there's more!
3. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla beans (extract) in the bowl of an electric mixer on high until thick and pale. Reduce speed to low, then slowly add the chocolate mixture, mixing until well combined. Switch off the motor.
4. Fold in the flour, nuts and 1 tsp of salt, then pour into the slice pan. I used walnuts instead of macadamias, only because that was all I had in the pantry. And oh, I can never figure this out. Why do you use unsalted butter, and then add salt to the mixture at the end? Does anyone know this?
5. Bake for 40 minutes or so until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan, then turn onto a board and cut into 18 large squares.
These brownies are simply divine served as it is. Maybe with a little dusting of icing sugar and vanilla ice-cream. I had little trouble stopping myself eating a whole corner of it, the "rejected" bits from cutting them into perfect squares. But the reason why it was called twice cooked, was that you can take it up one level and steam it in a lined steamer in batches of 2-3 for 2-3 minutes until fudgy and heated through. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. I didn't. They didn't last long enough for me to attempt that.
One little tip with making brownies: Make sure they're not over baked, else they'll come out dry and crumbly. I usually take mine out when it is still a little tad underdone, as it will continue cooking as it cools down. And it is best eaten when it's freshly baked, warm, fudgy and gooey in the middle with a crackly crisp skin. Enjoy!
Saturday, 6 March 2010
Oh, this was just to show you the bright blue skies reflected off my bowl of molten chocolate. Dangerous stuff, 70% cocoa Lindt chocolate and butter, melted. But don't get distracted now...
A view from my kitchen window... I apologise for the poor quality photos and reflection off the windows.
That's a lot of hail! And a collection of ice cubes in my black boy (Xanthorrhoea glauca). Oh what a name for a native Australian plant. Sounds like a human disease of some sort.
And more hail stones.
A new experience for Lucas. He was in a daze, points out of the window and said woowww....
We hear sirens from where we are, and hope that there weren't too many injuries or damages to properties.
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Where did all that time go? With my elective caesar scheduled at around 38 weeks, it will only be another 6 weeks before the arrival of baby. And I feel OK with that. I guess third time round, I'm a little excited, a little more relaxed and I kinda know what's in store for us! You know, just as the boys are starting to get that wee bit more independent, we're about to embark on this cycle ALL OVER AGAIN. I mean, I really didn't mind it at all. In fact, I kinda missed it: the late night feeds, sleepless nights, the invasion of body parts etc. Sounds crazy huh?
The boys? They're keeping me on my tippy toes. I get random kisses on my belly some days, but now and again I also get a sharp elbow nudge or a very painful accidental flying kick. But they're awesome with it. I think they have a fair idea now, what's to come, especially Lachy. And he can't wait! Lucas is sometimes clueless, he'd point to his own belly button and say "baby in there"!
I sit in bed procrastinating every night. Refusing to do anything mentally challenging. Or even if I do, it's like constipation, except it involves my brains. So that totally explains my blog, or lack of. And I apologise for that. Let's hope this is only transient, cos my mundane days are driving me nuts quite frankly.
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Say hello to baby Rykan, the latest addition to our growing family. Weighing 4kg on the dot at birth, he is just a featherweight lighter than his (cousin) brothers, Lachlan and Lucas.
Just in case you're wondering, no he's not mine, and no I haven't gone into labour or anything like that. This little angel is my brother and sister-in-law's precious new bundle of joy.
Check out Lachlan and Lucas at birth here.