Thursday, 28 May 2009

Kitchen renovation progress

Here are some progress for the past week on my dear beloved kitchen's renovation works.

Remember how previously they dug 3 grave holes at my backyard?
Well, they quickly filled it up with concrete the very next day, and upon coming back from work, this is what we saw.



My wife looked at me and asked "Erm, why only filled half only?"
I had no idea, but i tried to tembak the answer "Cos they ran out of cement mah"

Of course, that has got to be the stupidest answer ever, since earlier in the morning i saw the contractor with the concrete mixer truck, so it is impossible for them to run out of cement.

So i called the contractor and he told me "No worries Mr. Wong. That one is just the footing, as the base foundation. The other half will be filled up later"

Ok lo, since i know nuts about construction, better leave it to the experts.

A few days later, once the footing concrete has dried up, they proceeded to the next step.
I came home and saw this.


Wah, good progress *clap clap*

Looks like they have all the steel bars tied up and ready. These bars will act as the foundation to strengthens the concrete structure from the inside.


Another closer shot to see how they all come together.


The new steel bars are connected back to the steel bars in the existing structure for added strength. The whole house's foundation will support the new area from this, preventing the kitchen from sinking.

Yes, my house's backyard actually is on soft ground, so it is actually sinking slowly. Some people said we should not touch this area until it settles, which takes around 5-10 years. It has barely been 3 years, so we are actually risking the whole kitchen sinking into the abyss.

Even some of the neighbours' renovation works have resulted in cracks appearing due to the sinkage. Only time before their kitchen (the extended area) will be ripped off from the whole house.

But of course our contractor promised us the Sun and the Moon and gave us a lifetime guarantee that it will not sink.

Well, either he is that good, or he has a short life span. hahahahah


Ok, everything looks set with the steel bars structure.

The next day, the concrete mixer truck came again and filled up the area.


Everything that needs to be done to make the foundation strong has been done.
Now only time will tell if it could withstand the sinkage.

As they say, the foundation is the most important in any structure. If it fails, there goes the kitchen.

With this in mind, every night before i go to bed, i pray that my contractor may live up to 99 years old.

His lifetime guarantee better be good. He better not die on me dammit!

Monday, 25 May 2009

DIY Mee Hoon Kueh

Some time back, when my kitchen was still functional and in one piece, we found time to experiment and tried making our own mee hoon kueh (flour cake soup).

We have all seen how easy our friendly neighbourhood mee hoon kueh/pan mee stall owner casually toss the noodles into the boiling soup, cooking the flour to perfection, to the extend that we thought could do the same.

How wrong were we!

Anyway, to make the mee hoon kueh, we need our main ingredients: flour, eggs and water.

Toss everything into the Breadmaker ™ and wait for it to knead the dough.
Once done, set it aside while we work on the other ingredients.

First, peel off the head and guts to clean the dried anchovies.

Separate a portion of them for the soup base (or you could use stock cubes if you are soooo lazy) and another portion to be fried till crispy.

But instead of the conventional deep frying in hot oil, my wife suggested we could toast them in the oven instead with the same effect.

Of course, i raised an eyebrow to her suggestion, and said...

Can bo?

And i had to eat back my words after that.

Ok, moving on... toasting the anchovies in the oven is actually a brilliant idea, the final result is almost the same as deep frying them in oil, but is less oily (the only oil comes from the anchovies themselves) and i don't have to waste a wok-full of oil for the frying.

Sorry, cooking noob learns new things everyday. hehehehe

Ok, next we need to deal with our next ingredients.
Soak the mushrooms and tau foo pok to soften them, and the slice them into bite size, along with the fish cake.

Marinate the minced pork with char siew sauce for an hour and clean the sayur manis (i only knew what is it called after being educated at our friendly neighbourhood market. You know what they say, "You learn something new everyday")

Then stir fry the minced pork till fragrant. Add salt to taste.

Then blanch the sayur manis to ensure they are properly cooked.
Drain off the water and set aside.

So now you should have already made all the side dishes to accompany your mee hoon kueh.

And make sure your soup base is ready before we begin the next step.

Now we go back to the dough and make some mee hoon kueh.
First, divide the dough into smaller balls for easier handling. Make sure you have plenty of flour on the table to stiffen the dough in case it gets too sticky. And yes, they could get very very sticky. And messy.

Using a rolling pin, quickly flatten the dough as thinly as possible. The thinner the dough, the easier it will cook and the smoother the texture will be.

There, all done and ready to go into the pot.

Before tossing them into the pot, casually tear them into bite size pieces (how big is bite size depends on how big your mouth is lah) and flung them into the boiling soup base to cook for approx 10 minutes. Remember to add back in the sayur manis.

Cooking time varies depending on how thin you managed to get your mee hoon kueh to be.
Too quick and you'll end up with portions uncooked in the middle.
Too long, and the whole thing become soggy and slimy.

This one comes with the experience, so the more you cook, the more you could judge and estimate the timings.

Finally garnish with coriander (only if you love them) and you are good to go.

Ah.... a satisfying meal indeed.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

My dear beloved kitchen...

Of all the parts of my house, we love our kitchen the most.
This is where we enjoy doing what we love most... cooking.

Well, actually i love the bedroom as well, but that's another story. hehehe

But as much as we loved the way it is now, we have always thought that the kitchen is too small for the both of us. We practically can't move when both of us are cooking, and that is something we would like to improve on, getting a better kitchen!

So after spending some long and brain-wreaking days trying to justify and calculate our financial standing (well, more like a constant nagging from my wife to demand me to do it), we decided to extend our kitchen.

We can get another 5 feet worth of space for our wet kitchen area.

And how much is the damage?
About RM 20k for everything. (holy cow!!!!)

Here is how our wet kitchen looks like before.

Here is how it looks like from the outside, the extra 5 feet that we can utilize.

That was how it looked like before.


It looked like someone dug 3 grave holes at my backyard.



There, can even fit dead bodies in there.

Anyone has got some dead bodies but no where to dispose off?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

MAS Enrich Redemption - Look what i've got

For the past 8 years, ever since i joined the workforce in 2001, i have been actively traveling for my job.

Initially i flew a lot on Singapore Airlines (SIA) and have accumulated lots of points on Krisflyer but ended up not using any of them.

Because even if i redeem the points for flights, i still need to pay a lot for the airport tax and fuel surcharge. I mean, those alone costs hundreds of ringgits, eg. the last time i wanted to redeem flights from KL to Singapore, the surcharge and tax itself cost about RM 125 per person. Since i am so kamsiap financially wise, i have always thought that getting a bus or a train, which would only be a fraction of the cost, is the better option.

Anyway, those just got burnt away (expired lahhhh)

So back to the point.

Throughout the years, i flew a lot on Malaysia Airlines (MAS) as well. And have accumulated lots of Enrich points. I have not redeemed any since day 1, so when i checked my points last months, surprisingly i have accumulated up to approx 51,800 points.

That would amount around RM 740 (per enrich redemption average 70 points per RM 1)

So it was time to splurge.

I promptly checked the Enrich website to see what goodies i can get.
Imagine my horror when most of the things that can be redeemed ranges from cosmetics, fragrances, and jewellery.

Well, lady luck smiling to my wife i guess.

So i asked her what she wanted and she picked these:

1) Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Duo Value Set: RM 65 - 4550 points

2) Lancôme Travel Must Have Beauty: RM 172 - 12040 points

3) Dior Diorissime Makeup Pallete: RM 200 - 14000 points

4) Cristix Mikimomo Mini Massager: RM 299 - 20930 points

Well, actually i insisted on getting the mini massager for her, so she could use it whenever she has her back pain. Hope this will help relieve her pain, however little it may be.

So i collected them from the Subang Airport Complex B the other day.

The Lancôme Travel Must Have Beauty. Nice packaging. Looks exquisite.

Dior Diorissime Makeup Pallete. Very nice packaging as well. She has always wanted a complete makeup set.

Fuyoh, Dior somore.....

Cristix Mikimomo Mini Massager. I wanted to say great packaging, but i could not. Imagine my surprise when the staff presented this to me without any packaging.

So i asked,
"This one no package one ar?"

"Sorry no"

"Then got any box can put in ar?"

"Sorry no"

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Duo Value Set. Erm, first impression for this one is.... very small, very small indeed.

How small you ask?

The size of a cigarette box lo (or a deck of cards for the non-smokers)

So small leh....

Now i have a remaining balance of 333 points.

I guess now is the time to start flying again.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Cake decorating

As you all should know by now, my wife loves baking. It is her passion, just like mine is photography.

And this is somewhat of a handy skill to have, since we no longer need to go out to buy cakes for birthday celebrations. Anyone's birthday needs a cake? We provide. Hahahha.
And she is getting better each time. With each experiment, i can see her cakes can begin to rival those sold in shops. Watch out Secret Recipe! Hahahaha

And we only made them at a fraction of the cost sold outside. And healthier too, knowing what you actually put into your mouth.

So 2 weeks back, we decided to make a cake for Mei Mei's birthday.

Since she likes Dora, my wife bought the Dora sugar picture to decorate the cake.
That can be easily purchased at your neighborhood bakery shop.

Ok, once you have baked your cake, splice it in half (horizontally ok, not vertically)
This time my wife did a splendid chocolate cake with chocolate chips. And it was moist and dense, almost like fudge texture.

First, apply some whip cream onto the surface of the cake.
Once fully covered with whip cream, put another layer of blueberry jam.
Then drizzle a layer of crushed roasted walnuts to add taste and texture to the bite.

Once you are done with the first layer, put on the other half of the cake to make it complete.
Apply a layer of whip cream to it, covering the whole cake.

Once done, now it is the time to flex your creativity muscles.
Place the Dora sugar picture on top of the cake.
Then apply some whip cream on the side of the cake.

Shown below is my wife working on the sides with a piping syringe.

Then we add some chocolate shavings to the top and sprinkle colour chocolate rice to the side.

Trust me when i tell you that sprinkling the chocolate rice is the hardest part in the whole process. And not to mention the messiest as well. But no doubt you'll all enjoy making a mess in the kitchen. Hahahha

See the chocolate rice flying everywhere.
And my wife had to re-pipe the cream side so it looks nicer.

Here is the final product.

Have a wonderful time decorating your cakes!

And Mei Mei, have a Happy Dora Birthday!