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Archive for the ‘breakfast’ Category

That wasn’t the end of the barbie.

After the kids went to bed, I randomly googled a bit more about Australian food and read about damper. It’s a traditional Australian bread prepared by travellers as they went through the bush. The traditional recipe requires very few ingredients because the travellers would only have had basic rations with them on their long journeys. The basic ingredients are flour, water, and salt. As the camp fire died down, the damper was buried in the ashes of the fire and left there to cook.

I ran to check if the ashes from the barbie were still hot. They were!

Hurried to the kitchen. There was just enough flour.

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My unbaked damper

Quickly mixed the ingredients together, kneaded the dough, flattened it, and with tongs in hand went back to the mini-pit. I made a small depression in the ashes and put the dough straight onto the bed of ashes in the traditional way, then covered it with more ashes and the remaining hot coals. Actually you can also use a dutch oven to cook the bread in the fire, but I thought why not do it as traditionally as we can since we’re at it.

Buried under the ashes

Buried under the ashes

It did cross my mind whether it was healthy to have ashes sticking to the dough, but I figured that this was a traditional method that has stood the test of time, plus many cultures cook food in the ground. So I crossed that thought out.

I went to shower and do other things. In fact, I almost fell asleep!

As I was nodding off I suddenly remembered my damper and ran to retrieve it from the ashes. It was cooked through, and had a hollow sound when tapped. That’s the test to know if your damper is cooked. The centre bit was burned from being cooked too long though.

Burnt in the middle!

Burnt in the middle!

I left it to cool on a rack and headed to bed, eager to tell the boys about it the next day.

The boys were so surprised to learn that you could cook bread from the hot ashes of a barbie. They gamely tried the bread and loved it! We had it with honey, jam, and butter. I loved the smokey flavour of the bread. Pity that I had left it too long and the middle part was inedible.

We agreed that this was definitely something we want to make again, and that we should try it at the next barbeque. Apparently you can even cook it on a stick like how you cook marshmallows. Some travellers got tired of waiting for the bread to cook in the ashes, so they wrapped a bit of dough around a stick and cooked it over the fire. They’d then fill the hole that was left in the bread with jam or honey and pop the whole thing into their mouths. Sounds delicious!

Ellery came home telling me how he told everybody in school about damper, how he had promised to bring some for them, and how I had to make it again. So he woke me up at 645am in the morning to make damper for his friends.

There are many modern versions of damper that use more ingredients and bake the bread in the oven. We made a damper using milk, but deliberately decided to keep it as simple as possible because we wanted it to be authentic, so left out the butter and cheese, etc. Ellery was even skeptical about using milk because he really liked the plain, traditional version.

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Shaping the dough into a ball

Pressing down the dough in the pan.

Pressing down the dough in the pan.

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Oven-baked damper

This modern damper was still good, and went well with butter and jam. Like a bushman’s scone I suppose! But the ash damper has an extra oomph that we all prefer.

I cut a hunk of bread for him to bring to school to share with his friends. You could see the look of satisfaction on his face at being able to share something he had baked himself :)

 

Recipes

Traditional Damper

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp of salt
2 cups of water

Mix everything together. It will be a bit runny at first. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a bit. Not necessary to knead for a long time (I saw one video where the lady didn’t even knead it). Shape the dough into a ball then flatten it. Make imprints all over it with your fingers. Make a clearing in the ashes, put the flattened dough straight onto it, then cover it with more hot ashes. Cook for about 40 minutes.

*The updated version we did was to substitute milk for water. There are many other versions you can find online, including adding herbs. I thought rubbing in butter would make it too much like scones though, rather than bread.

This video shows how to put the dough into the ashes.

 

Nair Food Adventure

  1. The Beginning of Our Food Adventure
  2. Week 1 – Down Under: Barbie
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It almost went by without us singing him a birthday song!

There were grand plans. Ellery had been asking to go to the zoo for a long time, but for various reasons we didn’t get to go. There was Legoland, which we were supposed to bring the boys to as a combined treat, but that did not materialise after our move as we got so tied up with house things (rectifications and all that).

In the end, everything was kept simple.

On Christmas day itself we had a special breakfast of pancakes cooked at the table, just like at Slappy Cakes. The boys had loved it when we ate there and my aunt had so generously bought us a crepe maker last Christmas so that we could do that same thing at home. In the end we only used it for pancakes one year later! We had became addicted to crepes and often had those for breakfast instead :)

Home style slappy cakes!

Home style slappy cakes!

Christmas pancakes!

Christmas pancakes!

After breakfast we made logcakes for our neighbours as a way to say hello. The boys had fun delivering them, and we discovered a couple of neighbours celebrate Christmas in a big way. Some others we discovered were vegetarian and couldn’t accept our cake because we used eggs. Need to look for eggless cake recipes!

Sprinkling on the snow

Sprinkling on the snow

As always we were double booked for Christmas lunch, so we did house-hopping and lots of eating! Usually people at these two homes would greet Ellery a happy birthday, and at the first home we’d sing a birthday song. But somehow this year all that didn’t happen. Thankfully Ellery was patient and didn’t demand or expect anything.

Being cheeky in the car and not wanting to stay still for a picture :)

Being cheeky in the car and not wanting to stay still for a picture :)

Lounging in our friend's house

Lounging in our friend’s house

We left the second house in the late evening and went to Toys R Us so that the boys could choose their own presents. But Ellery fell asleep in the car! We thought he’d wake up in the noise of Toys R Us but he didn’t. We headed for dinner and tried to wake him but he was just too tired. We were joking about how we were celebrating a birthday without the birthday boy! But just as we were finishing our meal he woke up! Just in time to eat something and enjoy some dessert :)

Birthday boy sound asleep

Birthday boy sound asleep

Finally up!

Finally up and being squished

It was back to Toys R Us again, and Ellery chose a bow and arrow set because he had played with a set in one of the houses earlier in the day and loved it!

Home, bathed, bedtime story, in bed. Then Ellery said he wanted to have a birthday song and cake cutting. Throughout the day I had wanted to do it, but there just wasn’t the opportunity. So although it was already 10pm, we pulled out a logcake that we had saved for Ellery, decorated it and sang him a song.

He loved it! Especially when we found that one of the candles was a trick candle that kept lighting up again. The boys had such a good time trying to blow it out :) I think in the end the cake was quite covered in saliva…hmm…

I was really happy to see Ellery beaming :) A simple birthday song and cake at home can be so special :)

An over decorated cake haha!

An over decorated cake haha!

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday!!

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles

Finally blew out the trick candle!

Finally blew out the trick candle!

Cut cut cut

Cut cut cut

Brothers :)

Playful brothers

Loving brothers :)

Loving brothers

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My dear Ellery, you have certainly grown. You have leaned out and are starting to lose your baby fat. Many people say you look thinner.

You still say the funniest things, and I have a long list of quotes from you that are just hilarious :) I laugh out loud everytime I re-read them! I must save them for you so that you can read what you said as a little boy.

You continue to be independent minded and like doing things in your own way, which is a good thing, but that same quality also makes you rather stubborn and difficult to discipline. Oh, what fights we have had this year. I have had a tough time reminding myself to model kindness and gentleness for you this year. But you can also be extremely charming and loving. You spout sweet nothings at random moments, and that always warms my heart. Whenever you say, “Mummy, I love you soooo much!” I can’t help but squeeze you tight, kiss your head, and all irritations of the day are dissolved.

It’s been a tough year for you too. On the one hand, you’ve become a very sweet and loving older brother to Alyssa. You were so happy when Alyssa was born you ran through school yelling, “I’m a Kor Kor now!!!” You play with her, hug and kiss her (even with dirty hands and oily mouth). On the other hand, I think you unconsciously feel the reduction in attention given to you and have been very whiny since your sister arrived. I have heard that middle children either become very independent, or very whiny. I think you’ve gone the whiny route. I’m hoping it’s a phase, and I’m hoping it ends soon. I try to pull out special moments with you, but it’s tough. I hope you know Mummy is trying her very best.

A new challenge has appeared this year too. One that I was anxious would come, and it did. You were an early reader and many people said to you or within hearing how “clever” they thought you were, and they praised you a lot. Too much. At that time I was thinking to myself that they really should hold back on excessive praise because it might negatively affect Asher, and more so, it might negatively affect you. Now it appears that you are only keen to try things that are easy. Anything that you think you’ll not be good at you immediately say, before even trying, that you can’t do it. I really pray that this is also a phase that will pass quickly. I pray that we’ll be able to build up your confidence to try things that at first seem difficult, and that you’ll realise you actually can do many things if you put your mind to it. Also, that we don’t expect you to be super at everything, but that you at least give things your best effort.

Mummy hasn’t had much time and attention for you this year, unfortunately. Mummy has been very stretched, but I hope you know how much I love you, how special you are to me! You are so unique, and I love you deeply!

 

 

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More on Tanjung Jara Resort in this post!

The Service

Attentive. Discreet. Classy.

That’s how I would describe it. And I firmly believe it is because of the excellent work done by the General Manager, Philippe Cavory. It’s really a case of leading by example. He’s everywhere! When we arrived he was at the lobby to greet us as we were served Tanjung Jara Resort’s apparently famous Roselle Tea. When we chilled out at the beachfront, we saw him walking the grounds, adjusting the bins and pinning back the curtains at one of the cabanas since he saw them out of place – no task too small or beneath him. At the little Malay cultural event, he was there to chat with the guests. And one afternoon when we were in the room, we received a call from the front desk saying that the GM wanted to serve us complementary wine and hors d’oeuvres. Wow!

Our surprise!

Our surprise!

It’s the little things that really leave an impression. Serving guests who were along the beachfront iced water on a hot day (all beach hotels should do this!), delivering our room service meal in record time when we told them the kids were very hungry, helping to carry my bowl of noodles back to the table when they saw my hands were full with Alyssa.

Activities

There’s a whole variety of activities to keep you busy at Tanjung Jara Resort. I’d have taken part in more of them if Alyssa wasn’t stuck to me since I’m still her milk bottle at the moment. For starters, I’d have visited the spa. The treatments sound won-der-ful. Oh well. We had planned to go for a hike as well, but the kids were having so much fun at the pool that we decided to just stay put.

We did get to enjoy the Kampong Sucimurni Lifestyle event which is held weekly for guests, especially those not from the region, to experience traditional Malay village life. There were little stations for guests to try traditional games, local snacks and drinks, and there was even a monkey climbing trees to pick fresh coconuts that are opened on the spot. The kids loved the snacks. Ellery, in particular, made hundreds of trips to the snack table to help him to more keropok (crackers).

Kampong Sucimurni Lifestyle day

Kampong Sucimurni Lifestyle day

Coffee, tea, and Roselle water (a type of hibiscus)

Coffee, tea, and Roselle water (a type of hibiscus)

Monkey picking coconuts

Monkey picking coconuts

There’s also an island nearby that’s a good spot for snorkeling. My brother and nephew went for a day trip and saw a reef shark, a turtle, lots of fishes big and small, tons of sea cucumbers, and Nemo, Nemo, Nemo.

Food

The breakfast buffet at Di Atas Sungei features a mix of Western standards and – the best part – local delicacies like nasi dagang (rice steamed with coconut milk in leaves). One of the mornings they served a soup made from pure fish stock that was sooo good. The freshly baked croissants are good too. They bake trays and trays of them. Philippe is French, so I suppose that’s why he ensures good croissants are available!

The food at Di Atas Sungei can be quite pricey for dinner though so we didn’t eat there at night. We found a wonderful seafood restaurant less than 5 minutes away from the resort that served up excellent food at cheap prices. Cheap and good – Singaporean’s love to hear that! Restoran Seafood C. B. Wee has been around since 1983 and is popular among the locals. Interestingly a lot of them come here to eat the Western food, but for all the 3 nights that we went there we had seafood.  I think we went through most their menu.

Restoran C. B. Wee

Restoran C. B. Wee

There were 8 adults and 6 kids (not counting the baby), so we really had a feast each night. Steamed fish, chicken, squid, lots of veg, small prawns, medium prawns, and giant prawns. I love prawns, but have never tried the giant ones before. It’s so much cheaper there than in Singapore. A single prawn sells for upwards of $25 at Newton hawker centre. At C.B. Wee, depending on how good the catch that day, you cold get a whole plate of giant prawns!

Awesome food. If you stay at Tanjung Jara Resort you got to eat here.

Just a few of the dishes we ordered

Just a few of the dishes we ordered

Look at the size of that prawn

Look at the size of that prawn

Overall, Tanjung Jara Resort if a lovely place to stay if you are willing to make the drive up. My brother’s friend who joined us drove straight from Singapore to Tanjung Jara in 8 hours, and he drives fast. If you do come, you can be assured of a relaxing stay with good service and good food.

Some of the kids

Some of the kids

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There’s a nice man who works at one of the food outlets near the kid’s school who has bought us breakfast on several occasions.  We decided to repay his kindness by baking him a cake!

We saw a recipe for a lemon yoghurt cake in one of the children’s books and decided this would be the cake we’d make.  It’s a really easy recipe and I like that you don’t have to deal with butter.  Most cake recipes start with creaming the sugar and butter, which can get quite messy with kids, even though I’m always fascinated at how it rises to become fluffy and whitish.  I also like that you use the yoghurt pot to measure out some of the ingredients.  It’s a lot easier for the kids.

We made two batches.  One for the nice uncle, and one with strawberries for ourselves.  It was quite iffy whether the strawberry version would turn out nicely since it was an improvisation, so we thought it best to not put strawberries in uncle’s cake as well.

I was really pleased to see Asher grate the lemon zest all by himself!  Had to remind him a few times initially to keep his fingers out of the way because skin was not part of the ingredient list, but after that he was good.

Stir stir stir

Stir stir stir

Mix Mix Mix

Mix Mix Mix

Pour pour pour

Pour pour pour

The cake turned out really well too!  The original recipe has a subtle lemon taste, while the one with strawberries has a lovely tartness to it.  Both are rich, dense cakes.  Yum!

Yum yum yum

Yum yum yum

Lemon (and Strawberry) Yoghurt Cake 

Ingredients:
1 pot of natural yoghurt
2 yoghurt pots full of caster sugar (we did 1 pot white, 1 pot brown)
3 eggs
3 yoghurt pots full of plain flour
2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 yoghurt pot full of oil
1 lemon
some butter
(optional) two cups of strawberries, sliced

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Put the yoghurt in a mixing bowl.  Wash the pot and dry well.  You need the pot to measure the other ingredients.

3.  Add the sugar and eggs and whisk.  Then slowly add the flour, the baking powder, and finally the oil.

4. Wash the lemon.  Grate the peel.  Then squeeze the lemon.  Add the juice and zest to the mixing bowl.  Beat the mixture until all the liquids are soaked up.  If adding strawberries, now is the time to stir it in.

5.  Butter a baking tin.  Pour the contents of the bowl into the tin.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Leave to cool before taking out of the tin.

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The Missing Pan

I had a little time to kill before picking the boys for their swimming class.  It was a hot day and I just wanted to retreat into somewhere air-conditioned.  I passed by a new cafe and decided to pop in to take a look.

The Missing Pan is a smallish 2-level cafe located along the same row as Choupinette. I remember seeing the place under renovation a few months back and hadn’t realised the place was open already.

The Missing Pan

The Missing Pan

I was happy to see there was a tea time offer of a free coffee with every cake purchased, so I got me an apricot crumble and a cappuccino.  The crumble was decent and comforting, the texture was firm though a touch too moist for some I suspect.  I’m no coffee expert, so to me the cappuccino was average.

Apricot crumble & cappuccino

Apricot crumble & cappuccino

This place has a brunch menu that looks interesting.  If I’m in the area I wouldn’t mind popping in to try their eggs benedict and over hangover, which is a chicken schnitzel with bacon and a sunny-side up on sourdough bread.  The parking isn’t the best though, with just the short row of parking lots out front.

I approve the music though.  They were playing some music that sounded a bit like Kings of Convenience.  With the greenery outside the large glass windows, it made for a nice quiet place to pass the time.

Calming greenery outside

Calming greenery outside


The Missing Pan is found at:
619D Bukit Timah Road,
Bukit Timah District, 269724
Tel: 6221 7022

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I had heard so much about this place that I was very keen to try it.  I’m always game for a good, hearty breakfast.  But when we finally made it there, I’m sorry to say I was disappointed.  I know this is contrary to many reviews made of the place, and I tried to see what was good, but at the end of the day, I’d rather spend my money elsewhere.

My main grouses are that their dishes are sparesly presented, portions small, and the prices huge for what they serve up.

We tried the corned beef hash which looked so good on all the blogs I’ve read.  I was happy with how it tasted, I just wished there was more for the price I was paying ($14.90).  Mind you, this is at NUS.  Perhaps I had my expectations driven up by all the hype, but I really think I won’t call what they serve a hearty portion.

Corned Beef Hash

We also had the eggs benedict with lamb prosciutto served on a scone.  At $18, I again felt it was expensive for what I got.  While the lamb was tasty, I didn’t appreciate the texture of the scone which was a bit too crumbly for my liking.  I’d also have liked a salad to go with it to beautify the presentation (and to eat of course, I always eat up my greens!).  I thought the presentation looked sparse, stilted, and unappealing with just a slice of fruit at each corner.  Definitely, without a hint of hesitation, I’d say Prive still wins in the eggs ben department, as it has so far compared to all the other places we’ve been.  Just see how great it looks!  Tastes wonderful, and you know what?  Costs less!

Eggs Benedict with Lamb Prosciutto

Ellery was sleeping during our meal so when he woke I ordered a carrot cake for him.  I was so so disappointed when I saw it.  It was smaller than my palm but cost $6.  The strawberry sauce liberally squirted over the huge plate only served to accentuate how small the cake was.   I can get a much bigger piece at almost every other cafe at that price!  And it didn’t even taste good – too spongy and dry.

Carrot Cake

If the food was fantastic and totally floored me, I might have been more willing to say the prices were ok.  By upping the price factor, I expected more, and I was disappointed.  Bottom line, even if components of some of their dishes taste alright, I’d bring my wallet elsewhere that has better tasting food, has better ambience, and offers more value.

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