Sunday, September 27, 2009

The common tote

Singing in the Rain by Maxim Cyr

In the Forest by Ula Phelp

Close Relationship by Haha

Robots go Green by Sai Hoo

Came across a Singapore based website called Common Totes, a design community producing fresh tote bags every month. Designs are submitted by the community and they also decide by way of voting which should go to print. These will be then be put up for sale.

According to their website, the project was motivated by a passion to inject life and a little color onto everyday common accessories and the use of plain tote bags are a perfect blank canvas to express creative ideas.

I think it is a great idea. This way, they sell only the totes that people want to be seen carrying. Young aspiring designers will also get to know what are the designs people want in order to be commmercially successful. Designers who get their works selected get to win US$300 each.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A window view

Was at Singapore's Little India this morning to get some fresh produce. The aroma of curry and spices at every corner was wonderful, not forgetting the fragrant scent of jasmine flowers which are sold in little garlands.

I will come back again when I'm in less of a rush to savour the moments and enjoy the flurry of festive activities leading up to Deepavali, the Indian festival of lights. Managed to snap a few colourful windows in Little India before my hands were sadled with bags of meat, fruits and curry spices.

These windows are part of the pre-war conservation houses in Singapore. They are a vital part of Singapore's heritage with a beauty and character of its own. The house with the multi-coloured windows is actually one of the last surviving Chinese villas in Little India. It was built by a rich Chinese businessman in 1900 and he was one of the non-Indian community who prospered doing business in Little India.

Metal Lunchboxes

I had my first metal lunchbox when I was in primary school and it had Charlie's Angels on it. Didn't use it much eventually as I got tired of sandwiches and would rather eat the "nice" fried food at the school canteen.

Metal lunchboxes were popular in the late 70's but soon the fad lost its appeal in Singapore. When I visited a toy store on a trip to New Orleans in the early 2000's, I was happy to find 2M metal lunchboxes - Maisy and Madeline, 2 favourite characters of my daughters , Lisa and Chloe. They loved playing doctor and would keep their toy stethoscope, thermometer and other medical equipment in the Maisy box while little stickers and knick-knacks would go into the Madeline box.

Recently, I came across these metal lunchboxes again while browsing through thelittlehappyshop website. It brought back those happy memories and I went to dig up Lisa and Chloe's metal boxes. The Maisy and Madeline lunchboxes were still there, a little worn but none the worse. Best of all, their little doctor's things were still in there. These boxes will always be my little keepsake to remind myself of those precious growing up memories of my two girls.

I have 2 other metal lunchboxes which were movie premiums given to me. Being all silver, they were beautiful in a more adult way. I am now tempted to get some new ones at thelittle happyshop website. They have a really colourful one featuring the elephant Elmer and one featuring the Little Prince. They will make beautiful birthday presents for children.... and myself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bake a Cake

< Sometimes the winds of baking get to me and last Saturday just before Hari Raya, I got around to making carrot cake with cheese frosting, a fruit cake as well as chocolate chip cookies. Incidentally, my cousin called to tell me that she was in hospital with a fractured knee cap so my baking came in handy when I visited her. Also gave some to my neigbours and aunt.

Here's the receipe for my favourite boiled fruit cake. Great thing about this receipe is that you do not require a cake mixer to cream everything together. All can be done in a pot on a stove top 2 1/4 (375g) sultanas
1 1/2 cups (250g) raisins
1 1/2 (250g) currants
1/2 cup mixed peel
1 cup halved glace cherries
250g butter
1 cup brown sugar,firmly packed
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup water
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon golden syrup (can be substituted with treacle which will give the cake a darker look instead of brown)
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 3/4 cups of plain flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Combine fruit, butter, sugar, brandy and water in saucepan. Stir constantly over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer covered 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl, cool to room temperature.

Grease a deep 23com round (or deep 19cm square) cake pan, line base and side with baking paper.

Add eggs, golden syrup and rinds to fruit mixture, stir until combined. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake in moderate oven for an hour or so (this ranges from oven to oven, do check constantly for the first time)
Getting to know an oven is like getting to know a friend. Takes time but is rewarding :)

Keeping time : 3 months

Friday, September 18, 2009

Moon Cakes

Mooncakes from Raffles Hotel

Tung Lok Mooncakes
Too pretty to eat mooncakes from Bakerzin

Fruity Snowskin Combo from Goodwood Park Hotel

Snow skin mooncakes in the sweetest colours
Flaky yam mooncakes in the foreground
The Mid Autumn Festival is just around the corner, falling on Oct 3 (the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar).

According to popular legend, eating and giving mooncakes to friends and family are a tradition to commemorate the Ming revolutionaries' successful attempt to overthrow the Mongols. Today, it has become a creative battle ground for bakeries, restaurants and hotels as they come up with innovative ways of winning over customers with their creations. Mooncakes have gone far beyond the basic and traditional white lotus paste with melon seeds and egg yolk.There is a myriad of tastes ranging from liqueur types to local fruits and chocolates.

Raffles Hotel is famous for its snow skin mooncakes with champagne truffle and ganache. Every year, fans of this exquisite tasting mooncake wait eagerly for it. It comes with a retro looking tin box which is becoming a collector's item. Similarly, the Tung Lok restaurant group has also come up with its own winner - a red bean and champagne mooncake packaged in a beautiful turquoise tin box with a Chinese beauty on its lid.

Bakeries like Bakerzin have also joined in this lucrative business. The design on the mooncake is something even Anna Sui would approve. The black mooncake that looks like a compact powder case comes with a sesame seed flavour. How quaint !

Goodwood Park Hotel has a set of 4 local fruit flavours packaged in a beautiful gold box. Durian, mango, chempedak and the latest flavour launched just this year - soursop.
For those who are not too fond of mooncakes due to its sweetness, you may be won over by the taste of soursop. The mooncake filling is made of real chunks of fresh soursop and just like its namesake, it has a pleasant tangy sourish taste with just a tinge of sweetness.

Some prefer the flaky yam mooncakes made famous by Crown Prince Hotel. Its dough is made by rolling together alternating layers of oily dough and flour that has been stir-fried in oil. The most common filling for these Teochew crusty mooncakes is a sweet paste made from yam or taro.