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Cookie, My Little Baby October 28, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Pets.
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On 24th Oct, my dad came back telling me that there’s an abandoned puppy left sitting in a tyre in the field near our house. (I need to write down the date here or I’d forget!) And so, my bro and I went to check it out. The poor thing was left to fend for herself.. but she’s a pup sooo tiny. She hasn’t even opened her eyes! What’s more walk! Toothless and harmless, left with no food or drink. HOW ON EARTH WILL SHE SURVIVE?!

So I was telling my bro to just bring her home first and IF my parents really object to it, we’ll have to send her back to the field and maybe drop some hints to a neighbour who is a dog lover. Lucky though, my parents agreed that we’ll raise her.. but one condition from my dad – We can only raise her til she can take care of herself and then she’ll be set free! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! But we already have Jojo and Woofer at home and it’ll be really hard to manage 3 dogs since they have to go for walks twice a day (that’d be 6 times if we adopt the puppy)

Nevertheless, my bro and I still took the responsibility to raise her because we believe that we’ll be able to make our dad accept her when she’s ready to take care of herself! Huhu.


LOOOOK!! SO CUTEE! How can I resist her?! Her eyes are open now and she can walk already! Though still a little wobbly. I guess she’s about 2 weeks old. But handling a pup is so much like a practice to handle a real human baby!

We have to feed her milk once every 2 hours using a bottle, clean her poop, clean it when she pees.. And just taking care of her would’ve took half of my day (if you add them all up). Of course that includes playing time XD I can just sit down at stare at her the whole day. SO SO CUTEEE! Lols. She’s very obsessed with sucking now and she likes to sleep next to my foot or on my foot XD

IF really we could not rear her, I hope I’d be able to find a nice master for her. I don’t want to set her free! There’s lotsa dog-catchers here.. and they don’t catch. THEY SHOOT THE DOGS TO DEATH!! Just a week or two ago, two dog (which unfortunately do not have a tag though they have owner) were shot 😦 Plus, I read before that the market nearby sells DOG MEAT! @%$@*#& But I’m not sure if they’re still selling it now.

Anw, one more month to go.. *keeps finger crossed*

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The Macarons Sequel (French Meringue) October 20, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Baking, Food.
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I failed on my first attempt. There were feet, the shell doesn’t crack easily but the batter was thick when I mixed it, the macarons were wayyyy too sweet and chewy.

I failed again on my second attempt. The batter looks ok to me. Not too runny, not too thick. But there’s no feet this time! And the shell was porous (I swear I did bang the tray on the tabletop before leaving it to rest). It’s wayyy too sticky.  But mistakes I made.. I added rose liquid flavouring to the almonds so that might be one of its cause.

BUT I FINALLY MADE IT ON MY THIRD ATTEMPT! I was getting paranoid. I checked the humidity (Since it’s always humid here!) and found out that it’s always less humid around 2pm-4pm. So I started work at 2pm! Lols.

Ingredients:
95g egg whites (3 eggs)
30g granulated sugar
170g icing sugar
117g almond flour

The steps are simple.

24 hours before baking them:

  • Age the egg whites. Cover them with a paper towel and leave it in the fridge. Make sure there’s no traces of yolk or the egg whites will go bad.
  • Measure and prepare all other ingredients. Sift the icing sugar and almond flour. I don’t sift my almond flour though cos I buy my almond flour and my mom won’t let me use her food processor though the almond flour seems a bit coarse.

On the baking day:

1. Beat the eggs at medium speed until you see lotsa bubbles. Gradually add in granulated sugar (I pour them in slowwwwwly) and beat at higher speed. For my mixer, I used speed 3 at first, and increase it to speed 5. Stop when you see stiff peaks forming.

2. Mix the icing sugar and almond flour. Then add them to the meringue (1/3 each time). Use the fold in method. I add my gel paste colouring at the same time.


I read somewhere that we should not fold it for more than 50 times. Did that on my second attempt but I failed T.T But I counted the times I folded the batter.. it’s approx 60+ times. The batter must not be too runny or thick. Everyone says it should flow like magma.. I’m not sure how that looks but I stop mixing it once all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the peak dissolves after about 30 seconds.

3. I used a disposable icing plastic bag to fill the batter. After piping them, I bang the tray hard on the tabletop and poke all air bubbles with a toothpick. I let them rest for 30 minutes to form a skin which will help in the formation of ‘feet’.


4. Bake at 150°C for 13 minutes if you’re using a conventional oven. (Not sure of convectional/fan-forced oven since I don’t have one)

I was so soooo extremely excited when I saw feet forming! And there’s a crispy skin when I popped them into my mouth. Not super chewy like the first time. Anw, macarons cannot be eaten fresh. They need to be matured for a day or two. So I’ve filled them all and they’re sitting in the fridge now 🙂

There are certain things which I changed/did this time:

  • Used a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients instead of a spoon.
  • Did not add liquid flavouring to the almond & sugar mixture.
  • Used a non-stick parchment paper.
  • Poked all air bubbles with a toothpick on the shell.
  • Age egg whites for 48hours with a paper towel covering the bowl.

A few important points bout making macarons:

  • Aged egg whites reduce the moisture in the eggs and the macaron shells will not crack easily.
  • Best not to add liquid flavouring to the batter or it might be too moisture.
  • Overbeaten batter will be runny. If batter is thick, give it a few more folds. If it’s too runny, add in some dry ingredients.
  • Use powder or gel colouring. Liquid colouring affects its moisture.
  • Macarons turn brown if baked at high heat. And it’ll turn chewy if baked too long. I’ve been trying it with all sorts of temperature and time with my oven. Diff oven takes diff time and temperature.
  • French meringue is easier but italian meringue will be better if made in large batches ‘cos italian meringue is more stable. I used french meringue and the later batches which was left too long for their turn in the oven ended up cracked.

Here are some useful links to make macarons:

Syrup & Tang wrote a very good guide on macarons (methods, troubleshooting macarons etc)

On the other hand, Food Nouveau provides a detailed, step-by-step process with illustrations (:

And Veronica experimented the outcome of aged egg whites and fresh egg whites used.

This is Ms Humble’s troubleshooting guide which is pretty good too!

Woodfire-cooked pizza! October 17, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food.
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It was my first time to Michelangelo Pizzeria in Ipoh though it was opened since 2009 Dec (or so I read) Huhu.

The unique part of it is that the pizza’s made with woodfire. I didn’t take a pic of it cos it was kinda crowded. The shop opens at 6pm, I went there at about 6.30pm, and there’s already lotsa people there! The area is kinda small thus, catering not many customers.

I read really good reviews of the place. Especially on how friendly and nice the shop owner (Michael) was. I didn’t see him in person though. Either he’s not in at that time or he’s making pizza at the back. Huhu. But the waiters and waitresses are friendly. Madu ordered a can of Sprite and I didn’t want any. In most ahbeng or ahlian coffee shops, they’ll GLARE at you for not ordering drinks. But the waitress was nice enough to ask if I wanted an empty cup (She thought we’re sharing the drink). Though I don’t need it, but nice people like this makes me happy! ^.^

You can choose a few flavours for the pizza. But I guess the maximum you should choose is 4 flavours (It’s not good to test them with 8 flavours and see it all squeezed up in one pizza) We chose two only – Italian Sausage and BBQ.


The pizzas are all served on a pan, supported by a large, empty tomato puree can. The pizza’s not bad. Lotsa ingredients used. It was crispy and all. But the bottom part was a bit burnt (maybe I’m unlucky or something) and I find it a little bitter. Not the whole pizza was burnt underneath though. Only a few sides. Anw, I find the portion large for 2 person. Madu and I couldn’t finish it and we had to tapao. I guess 3-4 persons would be able to finish it.

On the way out, WE SAW THIS! ARGHH! I read a lot bout this being really nice and Michael decided to make them again! (It was limited edition before this). I think I’ll be back there to give it another try later. Huhu.

Bad ETS First Time Experience October 16, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Uncategorized.
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I am a loyal supporter of KTM intercity train esp KL-Ipoh as I find train a safer mean of transport (too many accidents in the highway with speeding or drunk bus drivers.. I can’t trust them!). But I was really unlucky. I went to the station on Tue to get Thurs’s tickets and we had this.. er.. frustrating conversation.

 

Me: Nak beli tiket hari Khamis.

Lady: Komputer rosak!

Me: Komputer rosak sampai malam kah?

Lady: Ya. Esok datang lagi.

 

Pffft. Wasted 30 minute parking fee! So I went there again the next day (Wed).

 

Lady: Komputer rosak.

Me: Masih rosak?! Semlm saya datang, orang tu kata hari ni boleh beli?

Lady: Komputer rosak. Datang lagi esok.

Me: Tak boleh reserve kah?

Lady: Tak boleh.

Me: Jadi guarantee ada ticket kah?

Lady: Ehh.. tak boleh.

 

Wth. HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN?! KOMPUTER ROSAK TAK PAYAH BUAT KERJA! Fuiisehhh! Anw, I went to the ETS counter (electric train). The girl there was friendlier and she said “GUARANTEE ADA TIKET!” lols. She even asked me to pakai lawa2 like my mom (cos I was lazy to change mine and I look like pasar malam ahsam XD) Pffft. Another 30 minute parking fee wasted.

 

SO, I went again the next day (an hour before the train departs) and I got the electric train ticket! Woohoo~! I was pretty excited. I rode Renfe’s train in Madrid and it was mad fast! I can’t remember the exact speed but I think it’s 300++ km/h.

 

BUT when I saw the train, I was disappointed. It doesn’t have the cool bullet exterior. It looks just like any other train except that it’s newer. And another major diff is that there’s a cafeteria in my compartment and they sell hot food (like rendang, bihun etc instead of junk food in  the normal trains).

 

Anw, I was hoping it’d go fastttt! Like the one in Madrid. But no. I was monitoring its speed on the TV. Fastest speed from Ipoh to Batu Gajah – 144km/h. Ooookay. So I thought, maybe cos the station’s too near so it didn’t have the chance to speed up. Again, no. After Batu Gajah, the fastest speed it went was 124km/h. ZOMG. Took about 2 hrs 30 min to reach KL Sentral. It’s like only 30 min faster. WHY WOULD I WANNA PAY EXTRA RM18 TO SAVE 30MINUTES?! So yea, no next time. I’m going for the normal trains.

 

On second thought though, perhaps they can’t go fast due to the uneven train tracks. Huhu. I think this reason is acceptable. Nevertheless, I’m not gonna take ETS again unless there’s no more tic for the normal trains! Huhu.

B.l.i.n.G. October 9, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Uncategorized.
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I’ve seen lotsa people going to I-City but I didn’t know its name at first. I thought it was just a Christmas thing in Pavilion! Anw, I was amazed by those colourful LED lights (I have a thing for colours) and finally asked Madu to drive us there! Woohoo~!

Entrance fee is RM5 on Mon-Thurs and RM10 on Fri-Sun (per car). And when you pay RM5/RM10, you’ll get a cash-back voucher at the same price. The vouchers can be used to buy drinks or as admission fee into the Cold World or Safari in I-City. With one voucher, up to 5 person can use the voucher to enter the Cold World or Safari. If you’ve used the voucher and would like to enter either one, there’s an admission fee of RM2 per person.

I think the Safari’s not worth going to especially at night cos it’ll be kinda dark to actually take a pic of the animals’ statues. The Cold World is REALLY cold. They have lots of aircond in the room! And after the Cold World, there’s a chinese new year room with mandarin orange trees, squirrels and red tanglungs 🙂

It’s a little warm there cos.. well.. lights generate heat? Huhu. The area’s still kinda empty. Not sure what time the shops close but there’s a cafe and an ice-cream shop opened at night (that’s all I noticed as I was more interested in the bling blings!)

Despite going on a weekday, the crowd’s still huge after 8pm! I reached I-City at 7pm and it was so nice then. No crowds. I have the Cold World all to myself 🙂 I hope they’ll add a musical fountain in the future! Huhu. They do on the spotlights at 8.30pm and 10.30pm for about 5-10minutes. But it’s kinda boring cos there’s no colour XD or music.

Anw, it’s worth going if you like bling bling like meee! XD

Macarons – Phailed! October 1, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Baking.
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I’ve been in love with these french desserts ever since I tried Sadaharu Aoki and Laduree’s macarons! (Btw, I tried this french macaron in Spain and it’s not nice at all!) And so, I’ve decided to try baking them myself!

I did lotsa research and freaked out a little when I read lotsa bad review on it. I saw people attempting to make them and still failed after 3 tries! But they didn’t give up (and I really salute them). I saw people complaining that their batter is too runny.. or the macarons don’t form feet, or the macarons ended up hollow, or having their macarons rising and then slumping in..

Oh boy, macarons are like women! I read that the measurement must all be accurate otherwise you’ll fail. Or the batter cannot be over beaten or under beaten, either one yields the same result – FAIL!

My story.. is different from the rest. Most people complain about having runny batter.. BUT MY BATTER’S NOT RUNNY! It’s a bit dough-like! And I freaked out. Couldn’t find the solution when I googled “Troubleshooting macarons” But I remember reading that overbeaten batter will be runny. So I kept beating them.. but not much help.

So I gave up and see what will my batter make.



It has feet! (: The shell doesn’t crack easily and it’s crispy! Lols. But the problem is that it’s chewy inside.. must’ve been because the batter was too thick. And it’s SUPER sweet! I mean FREAKING sweet! Anyway, since it has already gone wrong, might as well I do some experiments.

I first used 150°C for 14 minutes.. My macarons were pink (I added colouring) but chewy inside.
Then I tried 160°C for 15 minutes.. My macarons were light brown and ended up like cookies! ^.^

I prefer having them cookie-like than chewy. Lols. Anw, I think I know what to do next time. I need to reduce the dry ingredients and the sugar! Rawr. Oh. I didn’t make the filling in the end cos the shells alone was sweet enough. Lols.

Here’s the recipe I used (So NEVER use this recipe unless you intend to fail XD)

140g almond flour
225g icing sugar
100g egg white
40g granulated sugar

Next time, I’ll try to reduce to 25g granulated sugar, 180g icing sugar and 120g almond flour. Huhu. Will definitely post it here to announce my success or failure. Lols.