Pancakes with Strawberries

The (Not-so) Little Teochew updated her blog with a strawberry shortcake recipe and watching Ochikeron’s video on how to make strawberry shortcake I felt like eating strawberry shortcake. At least something with strawberry and cream. Lucky for me Sainsbury’s was having a 2 for £3 offer. Unfortunate that I made the wrong decision to buy single cream (kononnya less calories lah pffttt). Next time when in doubt, get the fatter option.

I thought of improvising a butterscotch sauce using the single cream, but the strawberries were already sweet and I was craving for the sweet-tangy flavour. The initial plan was to hand whip the cream with a light lashing of icing sugar. Attempt to whip the single cream yielded a frothy mixture that seems pretty good to top my coffee with, just not as photogenic to top pancakes with. Hungry girl is hungry so she simply wallowed the pancakes and strawberries in a pool of cream.

The next pancake recipe follows after the next picture. For the one you see above,

Pancake #1 (makes approx. 6 medium sized pancakes)

  •  1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Measure everything into a bowl and whisk the life out of it. Heat oil in pan and be patient. The pancake cooks better when the pan is properly heated. Ladle some of the batter into the pan. Dance around. When the pancake is somewhat halfway done, flip over. Shimmy for a bit and slide it out onto a plate. Repeat until the batter is finished.

This recipe is pretty much the staple for many food blogs all over the internet. Nigella and Nigel Slater uses about the same ratio of ingredients.

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This, was perfection for me.  I modified the recipe slightly with an alteration to an ingredient and to half the serving size (because six pancakes with all that cream turns me lazy and unproductive). This one smelled and tasted like Papparoti! 😀

Pancake #2 (makes approx. 3 medium sized pancakes)

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cream (I used single cream)
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tablespoons of milk (you’ll require more or less depending on how thick/runny you’d like the batter to be)

Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the vinegar to the cream and let it sit. Meanwhile, break the egg into the bowl of dry ingredients. Pour the soured cream into the mixture and beat it with a whisk – batter will be extremely thick at this point. Add milk gradually while whisking until you the batter form ribbons when you lift the whisk. It is now ready for the pan.

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Two Tunnels Greenway

Couldn’t stop gushing over the bright blue skies prominent the past few days. Discovered access to the Two Tunnels Greeway not far behind where I live and someone I met along the way told me of the Two Tunnels Festival this Saturday to mark the opening of the tunnel that extends the cycling route by about 10miles to almost Radstock (check out their poster here http://www.twotunnels.org.uk/media/twotunnels-opening-festival-poster.pdf ).

I loved that they considered wheelchair users in building the path (http://www.twotunnels.org.uk/gains.html). This faintly reminds me of a conversation I had with an ex-housemate who’s studying architecture and how catering for the disabled adds a level of complexity to the design they’re working with, hence I’m impressed that an outdoor route actually incorporates accessibility for the disabled.

My starting point was here. I walked towards Midford/Radstock until Bear Flat and returned down the path to Oldfield Park.

Had the bridge been partially done in wood it would’ve been the almost perfect setting for the bridge in Spirited Away xD

I’ve always looked over from above the bridge wondering how to get on this path. Happy now that I’ve found it!

The second green bridge on the route.

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At this point the weather turned really windy and my hair was in all directions and people gave furtive glances. The pictures looks quiet and empty as the path wasn’t crowded today. With a little patience you’ll get just enough clearing to take ’empty’ pictures.

Squashed poster.

The tunnel opens this Saturday! Woot woot! You’ll find three sparta figures near here (not pictured).

This picture is out of order: view of the rail track about two bridges away from Oldfield Park station. The starting point of the Two Tunnels route is just behind me.

Do not be deceived by the sunniness of the pictures. It’s still FHREAKING COLD and snowing in some parts of UK.

Have not been updating much as so many things happened, so many words I’d like to write, and owing the amount of time I like to spend on a single post (resizing pictures, upload, write, edit, write, edit) I wouldn’t have time  for procrastinating coursework. Since I still have a few more days of Easter break left and the mojo to write, I’ll probably write a couple of post before the next hiatus.

Sashimi, Panda, Udon, and Modern Art

I popped into London last Friday to attend my Mantin alma-mater’s reunion dinner. It was really great to see the old faces; my favourite principal of secondary one and two, the proctor a.k.a disciplinarian, my seniors, and the super seniors, and several other ex-members of staffs.

We had a buffet of Malaysian food, stories were exchanged while we hovered around the dessert table waiting for the kuih serimuka to be replenished. The super seniors (+4 years older) all seem to be doing very well. Most of the super seniors who came are currently working in London with all the big topshot companies, wahlaowei. That evening, it struck me why people keep bugging me to brain drain.

Several years ago, before really ma-fan rules were implemented in the youh-kayh-bee-ehh, given a strong academic results and extra-curricular performance dozens of companies would be happy to snap up the non-local graduates to work with them, more so for consultation and corporate finance bodies.

Today, there’s probably 999 clauses and rules to adhere to in order to obtain a working visa. From my undergraduate perspective, it is the minimum qualifying wage of £31,000 per annum. How, what, where, why, and who would pay a fresh graduate THAT sum of money? Another one is something about a visa sponsor. For example, university students have their visa sponsored (you still have to pay the processing fees) by their respective universities. The same goes to applying for a working visa. The last I checked even massive companies like Rolls-Royce doesn’t sponsor working visas. Anyone (non-local) who’s got an offer to work here do tell, sharing is caring heheh.

I ventured into Camden Town after breakfast the next day, countless of trips to London and I’ve never been there. My verdict : Overrated. The atmosphere reminds me of pasar malam (night market) back in Malaysia, chinese food vendors shouting out their offers, custom-designed t-shirts (Star Wars Coffee : May the Froth Be With You), overpriced merchandise, and cannabis. Cannabis everywhere. A lady tried to sell me hair removal pads which are silicone crystal pads that removes hair as you rub it on your skin for a £20 buy-one-free-one offer (I said no thanks, later found out you can get it for less than £10 on the internet).

A little blue bird informed that @WaiYeeHong will be in London that afternoon, so I was relentlessly asking for a tweetup. We went to a little Japanese cafe very near to South Kensington tube station, Tombo. Tombo does bento sets, simple yakisoba, and katsu with rice. I had a bento with special of the day – sheared salmon sashimi. I had two vegetable sides of a seaweed salad and something that had lotus root in it, I can’t remember the name. Green tea eclair for dessert. Did a trip to the V&A after and unleashed my museum geek.

Woke up damn freaking early the next morning for UKEC’s Projek Amanat Negara. Could have gone a bit later, but was worried for a girl friend of mine to walk and take the tube alone at 7am. She had to be there early as she’s sort of one of the committee members and have to do a bit of set up and stuff. Since I was so free after we got to the venue, I went back out again to fetch some coffee for myself, hot chocolate, assorted croissants and muffins for the poor kids who rushed there without breakfast. That day I learnt the proper pronunciation for Pret-A-Manger from the hotel porter (who was French, if I wasn’t mistaken). Ready to eat.

When the first session was about to begin, my left eye felt as if I had an eyelash fallen in. A few minutes later it started to water. I was lucky the friend I was sitting next to had contact lens eye drops and it helped me hold on a little while longer. While the speaker was going on about globalisation of Malaysian market (the session’s topic) I was going “tsk tsk….(“we’ve expanded our market to oversea”)…..tsk tsk…..(“we’re better than our counterparts..our (somethingsomething) can speak better English”)…..tsk” while dabbing my eyes with tissue. So drama. I so passionate about this topic ma’am tsk tsk…PFFFTT. I couldn’t stand it so I SOS-ed the friend I was staying with in London if there was anyone home, rushed to her place, took off my contact lenses, put on my glasses and headed back to the event.

The 3rd session which discussed religion had a very good speaker. That deserves a post of its own. I zoned out on the 4th session onwards. It was something about economics and I must have been half asleep. When a girl went up to the microphone during the Q&A session she said “open tender” and I misheard it as “open panda”. TWICE.

Had a dinner date at Koya that evening and they had oyster and jurusalem artichoke in miso on their board specials. I ordered that and a kanoko atsu-atsu, hot udon in hot mushroom and walnut miso. It was the most satisfying dinner I’ve had to date. Too bad Chatime ran out of Pearl Milk Tea, otherwise it could have been dessert.

Considering I had overspent on food the past couple of days, I had ramen kimchi (home cooked on stove, babehh) for lunch and dinner the next day. Visited a friend after lunch and killed time watching Running Man and braved the wind and rain to Tate Modern.

Tate Modern was sensory overload. Too many things going on, too many European students occupying all visible chairs, tables, and sofas turning the place into their lepak center. One of the sinks in the ladies on the lower ground floor appears to have been pissed in. The cubicle doors are decorated with uncommissioned art.

Appreciating contemporary works are difficult when the pieces seem to be lazy strokes of brushes on canvas given pompous titles and description. Maybe it’s just not my taste. Could be the headache I was having (which I realised yesterday was a symptom of stomach flu). It was dizzying to have so many interactive exhibits within close distance to each other. There was a short movie being played in the same corridor as a musical playground. One epileptic video light show followed by another. A sound effect accompanied exhibit adjacent to another. Notwithstanding the smell of some of the materials used mingling with the perfumes several ladies were wearing.

Bath On Ice

Snow’s fun when its fresh, fluffy like cotton candy, white, pretty. Then it solidifies, turning the pavements and roads into a free-for-all ice rink. Pedestrians sliding and skidding, cars and buses losing grip on the icy hills, bendy buses and trailers jack-knifed causing gridlocks, and motorists abandon their cars on the road side continuing the traffic congestion the next day.

Chaos.

Observing the local traffic news reminds me of the KL scene during heaving rain and flooding, except that the cars have a lot less grip on the ice. It occurs to me that the drivers here are not very prepared to drive in wintry weather. Using the regular threaded tyres on slippery surface is one thing, there are plenty out there who did not clear the inches of snow from the top of their cars before driving out (crazy people).

The following pictures were taken during the first and second day of snow last week. I headed out for a bit in the morning, had fresh snow for breakfast, rolled around in the snow as morning workout before hitting the books again. Missing out on snowball fights SUCKS but flunking sucks harder hence the decision to stay in. I lost my wellies during the summer (don’t ask how or why), so in my trusty Converse I ventured out for groceries and penguin shuffled much to the amusement of passers-by.

7.30-ish a.m of the first day of snow. Lymore Gardens, Bath.

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Discovered Narnia behind our backyard!

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Frozen playground.

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Frosty pathway.

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Oldfield Park rail station.

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P.S : Exams over! Weewooooo!

Cold Turkey

My fingers keep redirecting to the Facebook log-in page dozens of time to no avail. I had a friend to change my password and only give it to me once my exams are done to lock me out from my black hole of procrastination. The friend is on the other side of the planet and the only mode of contact with the friend is Whatsapp (which is now working properly on my phone, thank God) and the friend doesn’t have my UK number :p

It’s been about 24 hours without access and I’m feeling the frustrations of not getting updates. On the bright side there’s an increase in productivity. Revision is not complete yet. Will get there soon provided the current productive trend continues.

I’m very tempted to ask the friend to give me the password for a peek into my account but I shall persevere!

Wish me luck.

Empty Streets, Abandoned Tracks

Christmas is the time of the year again when the streets would be deserted, shops closed, public transport halted. For some it would be a day of joy, or a day of depression, or a day of boredom. I stayed up and woke up late, spent half a day finishing Merlin Season 5, took a walk to stretch my legs before going on a Running Man (an extremely fun Korean variety show) spree.

Last year I lived in one of Bath’s eminent location, a stone’s throw from the Royal Crescent and a roll down the hill to Victoria Park. This year I lived in Oldfield Park, where the student population density is one of the highest in Bath. Taking the opportunity of the zero rail service and very light traffic I took some shots standing in the middle of the railway line and on the road.

I’m sure many of us were saying our thanks to the heavens for not raining on Christmas. There was a slight shower early morning, the rest of the day was pretty mild for a winter’s day.

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New Year’s resolution. Save my a$$ off  for a decent DSLR and then save up a bit more to get those swashbuckling prime lenses (let’s see how far I get by 2014).

Took a sneak shot of my neighbour’s mistletoe. I wanted to take pictures of the Christmas-kiasu neighbours with their lights, but was afraid someone might come after me with a frozen leg of lamb for breaching privacy or what not. My red winter jacket’s too distinct. Even if I run I might bump into them on the streets. Jeng jeng jenggg.

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Spent almost the entire Boxing Day at home save a trip to Sainsbury’s local to stock up on tissue rolls and milk. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do any shopping though. Couldn’t resist bargains on ZARA and ASOS online stores and bought a couple of belated Christmas presents for I am my own Santa.

An additional note about Muslims prohibited from celebrating Christmas, that is because Christmas is associated with the Birth of Jesus who is worshipped as the Son of God. This is syirik in Islam – Allah does not have an offspring or is He an offspring of another.

I say, check your intentions before wishing another person Merry Christmas. For most of us, Christmas is the few occasions for a proper family gathering and this nurtures relationships, silaturrahim which is enocuraged in Islam. So it’s fine to wish your neighbours a good time with their family and friends. Christmas dinners aren’t mandatory though you can always take part as long you aren’t saying they’re prayers and the turkey is halal 😉

One thing I noted while I was out taking pictures on Christmas, more than half of the people I encountered on the streets either look unhappy or have a blank expression. Nobody wished anybody else “Merry Christmas”. Next time I should wear a reindeer headband and bounce around singing “Jingle Bells” at the top of my lungs.

NOT.

The Imam’s Wife’s Funeral

Today I attended a funeral in bright pink socks. I woke up late, grabbed the only decent clean pair of socks available, missed the bus and stood ten minutes in the shower getting my shoes soaked before the next bus arrived. I was late in arriving at the funeral care centre but just on time as they had ran over time. The men stood outside waiting as the ladies crowded the narrow corridor inside. I barely made it on time for the first takbir of the solat jenazah. Then, the women took turns paying their last respects for the imam’s wife.

Apparently the mandi jenazah, or the cleansing ritual for the deceased took place at the centre as well. This was a pleasant surprise as the centre looks more accustomed to Christian funerals; I guess they improvised with what was provided. The little room where the body is resting in the coffin was packed and half the crowd prayed outside the room during solat jenazah.

I was told later the body was buried in the coffin with the bottom-inside of the coffin lined with a layer of soil to keep to the Sunnah (standard procedure for Muslim burial is the body lowered directly to the ground, no coffin, only several planks of wood to keep the body in place). The cemetery was mixed but they probably allocated specific zones for different religious faiths. The coffin was brought out in a black funeral car with a man in black attire in a black top hat and a black walking stick walking preceding the vehicle. I guess apart from the Muslim ritual to prepare the body for burial, the other aspects were pretty much British.

I said a little prayer and took a quick glance before letting the next in line to pay her respects. I can’t bring myself to look at faces of the deceased for long; I prefer to keep the memory of them while they’re alive.I ’ve never seen most of the ladies who turned up for the funeral before. Females are the minority during Terawih prayers in Ramadan and the large numbers only come during Eid prayers or the fortnightly family gatherings at the mosque where there’s abundance of free food. Today at least 10 families came. By family I meant those who came with their spouses or siblings and their children.

After seeing the body sent off for burial, I was treated to lunch before we were due to return to the mosque in a couple hours for another short prayer session. The Bruneian lady’s place where my friend and I rested for a while had assorted Malay kuih and we had kuih kapit and almond London (chocolate almond cookies) for mid-afternoon snack. We just came back from a solemn affair and yet if felt like Raya having tea in her living room. We returned to the mosque just in time as they were serving food to everyone who attended the service earlier, so had second lunch. It was lamb shish wrap earlier and then lamb curry. They gave me some of the untouched leftovers to bring home together with some naan. Mind you, I just made lamb curry yesterday, so that makes a week of lamb? Oh boy.

As usual, they gave generous portions of curry and rice to everyone, and most of the ladies only managed half their plate. The rest were thrown into the rubbish bag. I never liked having good food wasted, next time I’m attending another of their makan parties I’ll make sure I bring a stack of food containers. Maybe I should get several of the large metal food containers to donate to the mosque for them to serve food in so people are free to take as much or as little as they want instead distributing single portions of curry and rice on plates (which makes it very difficult to pack left overs).

People in mosques that I visit have always been very nice to me. Whether it’s KL, Seremban, Melaka, London, or Bath, I hardly return from my visits empty handed (or empty handed but with a full tummy), Alhamdulillah. Ramadan the year before the imam’s wife always made sure I had something to bring home after prayers. Every time she packs me the left overs it’ll last me a week. Her spirit lives on as I come home with ration for the next couple of days, insyaAllah.

May Allah bless arwah Nikhat Azami.

“Da-da-dee-da-dee-doom”

While people on my newsfeed and timeline are getting excited over Big Bang’s concert in London, Adila and I sneaked off for an early term break with Mika at the Roundhouse (we didn’t have any lectures the following day). The ticket was more affordable than Big Bang’s without compromising the fun factor \(^_^)/

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I really don’t know how people can go to concerts and do fancams or take nice pictures throughout a performance. Most of the time I was singing/dancing along to the music, standing still was almost impossible. My friend and I arrived at 7pm as per printed door opening time and there was already a queue round the block. We thought we were one of the last ones to arrive until 10mins later it doubled behind us. We weren’t too far off from the stage once we entered the venue.

I was a fan before, after the gig I became a BIG fan. This man was jumping on and off the piano and all over the place while singing songs octaves high without missing a note (at least I didn’t hear any). His smile, his enthusiasm, his voice…he’s probably the sexiest guy in a plain white shirt I’ve seen. He’s reported to be gay, some say he swings both sides – please let this be true, give the girls a chance haha.

After the performance I couldn’t stop playing his songs. While checking out some of his live performance recordings and interviews, I think Mika’s a genius.

 

He sings fluent French – Elle Me Dit.

He translates some of his songs in English to French and vice versa.

He sang a Deutsche song for the first time and did it so well with a little bit of guidance.

Go check out pictures of his gig here –> http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/photos/live-photo-gallery/brilliantly-over-the-top-shots-of-mika-at-the-roundhouse-114821#2

Garlic Butter Prawns on Toast

I woke up at noon wondering “Is it term break yet?” There were no lectures and I spent the day being a sloth. My notes for the presentation slides for Thursday are still notes in the notebook and the most productive I’ve been today was finishing 3 episodes of K-drama; Pasta.

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This was lunch and made after being brainwashed with dozens of aglio olio featured on the K-drama, Pasta, which is obviously, about pasta. And love. Lots of love. Wish I could have that many pretty boys slaving in my kitchen dishing out gourmet dishes (haha!). I didn’t have any spaghetti at hand so I had them with toast. Unsalted butter was used but the taste was lovely nonetheless without any addition of salt.

A rough idea of the recipe (I didn’t take any exact measurements and referred to no recipe in particular).

Garlic Butter Prawns on Toast

  • Half a bulb of garlic [essential to my speedy recovery from this cold and tummy ailment I’m having]
  • Approx. one tablespoon butter
  • A handful of peeled, frozen king prawns – defrosted.
  • 2 slices of soy and linseed bread (anything goes, choose what you like. The garlic butter prawns can be paired with pasta or rice.)

Peel and mince garlic. Melt butter in pan, throw garlic in, sautee, throw prawns in, put bread into toaster, turn prawns on the other side, turn off the hob. Let it cook in the remaining heat. This ensures the prawns don’t get overcooked and the butter doesn’t get burnt. When toast pops out, dish the garlic butter onto plate, or you can eat them straight out of the pan ^_^

I sometimes make garlic butter prawns with chilli + ginger and have them with rice. Spicy foods are best with heavier starch to balance it out. You can turn it oriental by substituting butter with vegetable oil and adding a little bit of soy sauce at the end, or have it the Italian way by using olive oil, garlic, and optional seafood to go with regular spaghetti or angel hair pasta.

I remember a franchise back in Malaysia that does aglio oglio with the fiery passion of sambal. At least sambal wasn’t used in the dish, but it was loaded with either chilli powder/chilli oil or a combination of chilli powder and a truckload of tabasco and lots of mixed seafood. I guess wherever a dish is introduced to a new place, it will be a matter of time before the recipe is adjusted to the local taste, just how Malaysian food outlets in the UK are less intense compared to their original counterparts.

Slacker

Skipped today’s last lecture (and the fifth lecture I skived this week) as my tummy was feeling uncomfortable and mucus was about to clog up my brain.  Thankfully I wasn’t sneezing my head off during the lectures before, would have been funny if the Madlab lecturer kept getting interrupted with an “AH-CHOO!” every 5 seconds.

Single digits, negatives, and water freezing point temperatures are making it increasingly difficult to sleep and get out of bed the next morning. I tend to wake up at least once in the middle of the night and when the alarm rings the next morning, it’s way too comfortable in the duvet to roll out and embrace the chill. The bathroom is practically the same temperature as it is outdoors.

I was gossiping about some of the other second year retakes with a couple of friends over lunch, and core of discussion was how come these people are repeating second year when they are so bright?

Tabled was student A and student B. Student A was reported to know A LOT of things and can even replace the lab demonstrator to explain how the experimental rigs work. This student scored 4A* for his A-levels. Student B is very quiet and hardly interacts with the current batch. The one time I copied – and copied this student’s assignment – I scored 95%.

As for myself, I was crazy busy doing 9342750983 academically unrelated things and came exam time, there was an overwhelming amount of studies to cram and my neurons fizzled out. Not to mention I screwed up the Madlab module which was a 12 credit module (other modules are either 6 or 3 credits), therefore sinking the elephant.

For whatever reasons the other brilliant students had to repeat the year, lesson learnt is that shit can happen even to the best of us. Second year is one massive step up from first year, and I’m a bit grateful to not be in my final year now given the shaky state of my academics. Also I get some time to recover from all the stresshitdrama before entering the final leg of my degree studies.