Friday, October 28, 2011

Hong Kong: 21-26 October 2011

So I am back from Hong Kong.

Phew. It wasn't easy being a tour guide for a group of 9 people, including myself. This Hong Kong trip came along when my generous mum decided to bring all her nieces and nephew to Hong Kong and since she's not into the planning type, she kinda hired me as their tour guide.
I was gamed to it because it means free trip.

So I became the tour guide for 4 adults and 4 kids. Hectic stuff. Totally not easy at all. Guiding 8 people who didn't bother looking at maps and just followed me in crowded Hong Kong was no east feat.

21 Oct 2011 - At Penang International Airport awaiting boarding CX692 to Hong Kong

But I had fun. Fun being around 4 silly teenagers. They made me laugh so much. Those 6 days 5 nights were really cousin bonding time for us.

22 Oct 2011 - Cousins and I at The Peak

I took them to most of the places I'd covered during my Hong Kong trip last year. But we went to some new eatery places and dai pai dong-s (will blog about them later).

This time we flew via Cathay Pacific, onlybecause it came out to be cheaper than Air Asia. So we got to watch movies and were served breakfast during our 3 1/2 flight there. Not that awesome for me because as usual I just popped an airsick pill and got dazed during the whole journey. I hate flying.

A few highlights of the trip.

a) The Peak - enjoyed the cooling weather and had a mini picnic up there with gorgeous views.

22 Oct 2011 - Having mini picnic

22 Oct 2011 - Awesome view of Hong Kong

b) Was so happy to see both the young and old enjoyed Hong Kong Disneyland, almost as much as me!

23 Oct 2011 - At Disneyland Hong Kong

c) Happy to watch the Disneyland's Flights of Fantasy Parade because there wasn't any during my last trip.
Min, this video is for you ;D

There was also the Halloween's Glow in the Dark Parade but I didn't like it much.

d) Happy to revisit Macau to take photos because the last time I was there, it was raining. I think Macau's buildings are really beautiful.
And I love love love St. Paul's Ruins.

24 Oct 2011 - At St Paul's Ruins

e) Celebrated Ah-Yee's birthday in Hong Kong with a delicious mango cake.

22 Oct 2011 - Birthday Girl with her cake

But most of all, I realized I miss my 2 babies - the small one and also the big one.
Miss them a lot.

Anyway, managed to do more shopping this time compared to my previous trip. Bought a pair of boots, an Esprit jeans jacket, 2 belts, iPhone cover, Clinique products and some other brands products. Came back Penang a happy girl. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Geeky Shern to Gangster Shern

I brought out this pair of specs cum sunglasses for Shern which I got from the Ladies Market in Hong Kong last year. I just digged it out because he is big enough not to yank it off every time I put them on him.

And once he had them on, omg...I'd just turned my son into a geek!
But, geeks are all in the rage now right? So it's all right. His parents are after all geeks themselves too. ;)

19 October 2011 - Geeky Shern

And when I flipped the sunglasses on, my son just turned from a geek to a full-blown gangster, complete with the look as well!

19 October 2011 - Gangster Shern

So what do you all say about that? :D

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake...Again!

Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake - 27 September 2011

My 3 kaufu bought many passion fruits to mum's place. We ate them but there were too many so I decided to bake a cake using the fruit. Since I was craving for cheesecake, I've decided to baked Passionfruit Yogurt Cheesecake. I have baked this before but it was almost a year back.

This time around, I was more hardworking and I strained the juice.
Heck, it was really difficult to strain as much juice as possible from 4 medium-sized passionfruits. In the end, I liked what I did. I has just enough juice and my passionfruit jelly layer was more clear and pretty.

After a night of refrigerating, I took the cake out.

Unmoulded it and this is what I've got - 3 layers of contrast colours; brown, white and bright yellow. Lovely.

I love biscuit layers in cheesecake. Wouldn't trade the base for something else. Not until I find something I love more than biscuit base.

The cheesecake layer was sweet and a 'lil to soft. But I guess I was too impatient to cut into the cake. The remaining cake left in the fridge was given more time to toughen up and it was harder when I cut into it many hours later.

The tangy thin layer of passionfruit jelly top layer complements superbly well with the sweet cheesecake layer and salty biscuit base. Awesome.

I love my serving plate as well. Slightly scalloped edges. Pretty and feminine enough for a beautiful cheesecake.

A nice clean cut into the cake.

My slice. A generous slice. All mine. :D

Recipe: Passionfruit yogurt cheesecake (copied from Bread Et Butter)
Makes one 8 inch cake/10-12 cheesecake pots

For the biscuit base:

  • 15 digestive biscuits, crumbed
  • 120g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (I omitted this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the yogurt cheesecake:

  • 400g greek yogurt (I used normal Anlene Natural Flavour yogurt)
  • 450g cream cheese, at room temperature (I used Philadelphia cream cheese)
  • 3 tablespoons passionfruit juice.
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (I used 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I used whipping cream)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • 3/4 cup sugar

For the passionfruit jelly:

  • 4 ripe passion fruits, juiced – reserve the seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatine

For the biscuit base:

1. Preheat the oven to 180’C. Butter an 8 inch cake tin/ramekins/tart tins. If using a ring line the bottom with aluminum foil and place on a baking tray. (I used a 8 inch round spring form pan)

2. Put the digestive crumbs in a bowl, and add the sugar, ground ginger and salt to it. Mix well.

3. Add the melted butter to the crumb mixture, and mix until combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin/ramekin and press it down in an even layer. Bake until golden (takes approx 10 minutes – this may differ according to the size of your tin) and let it cool completely.

For the yogurt cheesecake:

4. Put the yogurt and the passion fruit juice in a food processor and mix until smooth. (I used a blender)

5. Put the heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat until warm to the touch. Add the powdered gelatine to the warmed cream, and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.

6. Put the softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until fluffy.

7. Fold cream, followed by passionfruit yogurt mixture into the cream cheese mixture until incorporated.

8. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the crust, and refrigerate until set. This will take at least 6 hours.

For the passionfruit jelly layer:

9. Strain the passionfruit juice and place in a small saucepan over low heat.

10. Add the powdered gelatin and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

11. Meanwhile rinse some of the passion-fruit seeds and place on top of the set cheesecake.

12. Pour the passionfruit mixture on top, and refrigerate for at least one hour/until set.

13. Serve!

Friday, October 21, 2011

USA: Cathedral of the Saint Mary of the Assumption - San Francisco, California - 8 May 2011

We visited one of the churches in San Francisco - Cathedral of the Saint Mary of the Assumption. It is the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, and is one of San Francisco's Top 25 Buildings.

This church was very different from the other churches -

Firstly, the church was considered controversial not only because of its adherence to the changes in worship from the Vatican Council, but also because of the grandiose scale of the structure. Its supporters argued that it is a magnificent homage to God, but dissenters argued that the funds should have instead been usedto help needy parishioners and instead of erecting this extravagant edifice.

Secondly, the task of building the new cathedral was daunting; San Francisco is earthquake-prone, requiring seismically engineered buildings. The structure is an engineering tour de force. Standing prominently on its hillside site, the hyperbolic paraboloid form is visible from all over the city of San Francisco and truly manifests the modern version of the Gothic cathedrals in Medieval Europe.

The emphatic ascension consists of a square base topped by four hyperbolic paraboloids, thin concrete shells that slope inward and support each other while, from above, forming a giant cross. The structure meets in a cruciform-shaped void overhead. So when you actually look up the ceiling, you will see a giant cross.

This is the entrance leading up to the main door. Such intricate carvings.
And look at the strong wind, making my hair covering my face. Yes, this is normal in the SFO area.

Love the door so much couldn't help but took another picture with it.

Once inside the main hall, this is what you see. There was actually a service going on. So we were not allowed to go to the front of the hall until the service is over. But other than that, we were free to walk about, quietly of course.

When I looked up the ceiling looking for that giant cross, I was in awe. It was so beautiful. I could see the light from the colourful stained glasses which formed the giant cross rom the lofty ceiling. And the place was so quiet and tranquil, it made me feeling calm.

This faceted glass was designed by Professor Gregory Kepes of MIT. The blue glass in the north represents water; the gold and yellow of the south represents the sun and light; the red of the west window represents fire and the green of the east – the Earth.

On the sides of the halls were intricate carvings of Jesus Christ, Mother Mary and other angels I suppose. They were all very delicate and beautiful.

The giant chandelier than hung down in the middle of the hall was beautiful too.

There were also stained glass on the side doors and windows deco. Beautiful. I love stained glass.

At one side of the hall, there is this big pipe organ, which is the first one I've ever seen. I've never seen a pipe organ before, have you? Heard that this pipe organ here was built in 1971 by Fratelli Ruffatti, a famous organ bulder in Padua, Italy. It has 4842 pipes on 89 ranks and 69 stops.

After awhile, we walked out quietly. And we took some photos outside the cathedral. Love the blue skies in SFO.


p/s - Click here for more of my USA trip.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Rainy Afternoon...

we took a big, blue umbrella and went down to our apartment garden.

29 August 2011

We went to our garden's little pavilion and sat there, shaded from the rain and watched the rain.
My little boy was happy munching the box of raisins and cereals I brought down for him.

Together, we watched the pelting rain and watched the koi fish swimming in the pond.
Sitting there, I could smell the rain. The rain was noisy and yet calming. I haven't felt this way before. To be so close to the rain 'til I could smell it.
Normally, I would just run helter skelter away from the rain and indoor. That day was different.

I took the umbrella and camera in my hand, I walked opposite the pond and took a photo of father and son.

I caught Shern feeding daddy some snacks.

It was a nice rainy day to get some family bond so near home. All we need was just a big umbrella and some rain. :)