Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baking a simple Banana Cake without a mixer

I heard my hubby mentioned about wanting to eat banana cake the other day. So, it gave me a a tingle that I can probably bake one. I've always liked to source for simple and hassle free, yet well received recipe. After going through some blogs, I've decided to use Jaime Teo's recipe which her post title mentioned "Easiest Ever Banana Cake Recipe" which can be found here, which she took it from here with 116 reviews!

To those who has done baking, the recipe did not even call for creaming the butter. What!?
I gave it a shot and it really turned out soft and moist. Not the super light and fluffy but my hubby and children loved the taste and texture.

Here is the recipe:

125 g butter
¾ cup sugar
(185gm but I reduced to 140gm)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
2 ripe bananas mashed (large)

1½ cups self-raising flour (225gms - but as i don't have SR flour, i substituted with 225gm Plain flour +
2 1/4tsp baking powder + 3/8 tsp salt. Got the substitution formula from Joy of Baking)
¼ cup milk 

1. Melt the butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium sized saucepan.(I microwaved sugar and butter in a glass bowl til the butter melted(20s), and stirred it to a gooey mix. THEN I added the vanilla essence )

2.  Add mashed bananas and stir through until just blended.

3.  Add egg and mix in well.  (I didn’t beat the egg in a separate bowl. Break egg in and mix well.)

4.  Stir in flour (I sifted in the flour and baking powder, half cup at a time and added the salt)

5.  Add milk and mix lightly.
(I stopped mixing the moment I couldn’t see the milk. I'd also added chopped walnuts at this stage when i baked the second time)

6.  Bake at 170°C for approximately 40 minutes.(Mine took approx 50mins – do the skewer test!)

BTW, this recipe did not mention about the type of pan used. I used my loaf pan which measured 9x3x3 inches. I buttered it and lined with baking paper. Remember to preheat the oven at 170°C.

Kaylene enjoying the stir. She looked so focused and seriously at work with a full grip of the fork!

Shiranne attempted to mash the bananas. Not much strength so i gave her a helping hand. And i knew she was proud that she helped when she announced to daddy that she "helped mashed" :)

I think the banana cake tasted the best when warm! heat up your slice after it has turned cold!

Side note : this should be my last post as a SAHM. I will be starting my FT work on Monday. Goodbye to the days when i can have the luxury to bake on a weekday with my kiddos...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Fun Sunday @ Kallang

Sunday morning, hubby suggested bringing the kids to old Kallang airport which is one of the exhibition venue for The Singapore Biennale 2011. It's ongoing till 15 May and information can be found here. . He thought there might be some kids activities for them to have some fun. However, it turned out the activities were only for the open house... Nevertheless, we went ahead to tour the place.

@ the West Block - Kids drawings
My kids were either admiring some of the drawings or trying to figure out what some of the drawings were about. There were nice ones which we get the kids to look at and they would usually 'wow'. But we also came across some gruesome ones for eg. a bloodied heart being pierced by a fork.. those we shun..

We toured the other blocks but as we couldn't really appreciate a lot of the art there, we ended our tour quickly. Then we had a leisurely lunch at the not-so-crowded Toast box which is within the compound. 

Frequency and Volume
We had fun getting our shadows to pose for photo taking

Since we were at Kallang, we decided to drop by Kallang Leisure Park and check out the bowling.We were expecting a long waiting list for a Sunday afternoon. To our surprise, we were told we can get a lane immediately. We were all excited as it was the first time the family bowled and hence didn't mind paying S$33 for 2 sets of games for 2 adults and 1 child, shoes rental and the socks (good to bring your own socks and note they do not sell kid's socks. Kaylene didn't wear any socks with her rented shoes but she seemed fine).

Another thing to mention, I'm not sure about other bowling places,  but I'm glad that Kallang bowl has the bumper barrier for kids to prevent their bowling balls from falling into the drain. Otherwise it'd be as if we are throwing our money into the drain.

The kids couldn't wait to get their hands on the balls. I had to stop them in case they roll some 15 pounds ball onto their feet. I've gotten the lightest ball, which is 6 pounds, for Kaylene. It's a good weight as she can lift it up with both hands and then throw it with both hands.

Kaylene was really enthusiastic about the game. The heavy ball did not even deter her from trying to use her thumb, middle and ring fingers to pick up the ball! Look at the lane behind her. It was her turn hence the bumper barrier was up. When she finished with her 'throws', the bumper will automatically be withdrawn for the next adult. I was really amazed by this feature and this shows how long I've not been bowling!

Shiranne had her experience of bowling...erm..rolling too.. and was 'yaying' away when she saw her ball knocked some pins down :)

While we bowled, she entertained herself by putting her face above the air blower from the ball dispenser, either getting her face 'cooled' from the excitement or simply enjoying flying her hair as she shook her head?!...Ha ha

I knew it was obvious that I need not check with the kids if they enjoyed themselves. We adults did. Kaylene actually requested to do bowling again the very next day. Guess we have one more activity to keep in mind for the weekends!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weaving for Hope - my first crochet is for preemie

My first crochet project - a beanie hat for preemie

I have not been blogging for some time as I was busy training my new maid and also trying to complete the 'Weaving for Hope' crochet beanie hat for the premature babies. Got to know of 'Weaving for Hope' through Motherinc and found it meaningful hence decided  to use a Sunday to go down NUS at bukit timah campus to learn crochetting the hat.

It was a group of NUS students' project. They had instructors to volunteer for the 2hrs workshop and the crochet needles and yarns were all sponsored. The students aiming to spread awareness about the need for preemie hats by premature babies facing potential medical risks. The hats will then be delivered to neonatal units of hospitals who have expressed their desire for this sort of help. I'm not sure how long they are continuing this project but some details can be found here and can try contacting them for those keen.

 The instructions on the board

 The workshop

My Work in Progress. A couple of rows only after a 2hr session. I had no prior experience in crochetting hence it was rather difficult for me to remember the steps and I was really clumsy with the needle. Had to remove and re-do a couple of times. Patience ..Patience ... is the way to go..
Finally completed a not-so-perfect piece (some rows had less crochets), after 2 weeks, and was ready to be sewed into the beanie hat. I was so slow that I'd actually busted the 14th March deadline to snail mail the students. Will be doing so right after this post!

Hope the preemie who is going to wear my beanie hat can feel the warmth & love i put in and
will grow stronger and stronger every day!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Maid Woes - Am I too strict or she is not a maid to keep?

I've had previously 2 maids (1st an indo, 2nd a filipino) who have worked 2 years and 1.5 years consecutively for me. The 3rd maid that I have now is new from Indo. She came in October 2010 and I thought she is a maid I can keep for 2 years until I found out some of her daring acts.

On her very first day that she arrived, I'd given her a list of house rules and explained them in English and Bahasa Indonesia. I've also made sure she acknowledged that she understood. BTW, my house rules are from the agency and I've aso made references to Singapore Maids Guidelines and Schedules.

I was quite alright that she picked up her English slow hence a lot of miscommunications and uses 'no understand' conveniently, rather forgetful, rather choosy about food, has occasional demands, can't play with my kids well, get pains/aches here and there occasionally, lack of initiave till now and her butt seems to be stuck on the floor most time, I was willing to tolerate...

However, the following happened and I'm not sure if I were too strict with my 33 year old maid or she's too daring for my keep..

Daring act #1 - leaving the house without my permission

On the 1st day of Kaylene's K1 school, I caught her coming out of the lift from the ground floor, leaving the house without my permission. That afternoon, I'd sent Kaylene to school with Shiranne and came home after half an hour time (school is within walking distance). I've asked her the reason for coming down and she said she wanted to go to the school to pass me Shiranne's water bottle which she thought I'd forgotten. It was raining then and I'd asked her where was her umbrella? Also, it was only half an hour later that she thought of that?I thought she was just a muddle maid hence willing to forget the incident. Of course, I did not forget to give her reminder that unless I call home for assistance, she is not allowed to leave home without permission.

A couple of days later, she'd ask if she can go downstairs to have a stroll on her own. I did not permit as I didn't want her to know some other maids which will put bad influence on her. However, I offered that if she needs a breather outdoor, she can follow me whenever i go out with the kids to school or for a stroll. She said she's fine but only asked me twice so far. I asked her a couple of times but sometimes she would prefer not to follow me.

On 28 Feb, Shiranne was napping so I left her sleeping in my bedroom. I'd informed my maid that I would go fetch Kaylene from school and that she had to keep an eye on Shiranne in case she wakes up. I went out 10 min earlier and went to hide behind our level's stairway door. Just a couple of minutes later, through the little window of the door, I saw my maid walked past! She had took the lift down. I waited and she was up 10min later. I was very angry that she left my kid at home and went out without my permission again. I chose not to confront her immediately till I've decided what to do with her.

Daring act #2 - using our home's IDD to call home without my permission

For all my maids, I would allow them to use our home IDD to call home once every month, not exceeding 10min. If exceed I'd deduct from their pay. Unless it's absolute necessary, I'll let them use the phone again but with my permission. My first indo maid complied and wrote letter in addition to the call per month. My 2nd filipino maid complied too but uses her own handphone when she's done with her work. This 3rd indo maid, we found out from our phone bill, that she was using our  home's IDD in our December bill, chalking up the bill to S$25 of IDD charges. We noticed the timing of her calls were when I sent Kaylene to her holiday enrichment classes. I confronted her and she begged for forgiveness while crying and promised not to repeat.

Subsequently I bought her a S$10 value calling card(about an hr of usage) for her to use for 3 mths. If she finishes it within the 3 mths, she has to use her own money to buy another card. She had some money from the red packets recieved during Chinese New Year. Just into the 3rd week of usage now, the value of the card left 46cents. I kept her card number to check on her usuage sometimes. I was really shocked to find out that she had called so frequently.

Arrgh, it is really frustrating to have a maid like that who doesn't seem to have the heart to work and only seem to hope that we go out without her so that she can get into some 'hanky panky'! It gets me affected mentally as I'm the type of employer who doesn't like to bring maid out because I'm used to handling my kids outside independantly. Bringing a maid out is like looking after another person which I don't need that! However leaving this maid at home alone also worries me..

Why can't I survive without a maid!!