Friday, January 23, 2009

Hey There Everyone!

Chloe, me, Ming and Paige at King's Park

Happy 2009! Just a short post to say 'Hi!' and Thank you for all your lovely emails - I am very well, just really busy having a Great, Great time enjoying my family these holidays! I have a Huge, no, GIANT post coming up with so many photos to share you won't believe! I've had a really busy but extremely fulfilling time over the last six months and I'm going to tell you all about it in my upcoming post. And of course, not to mention a Gorgeous little recipe for a SEXY cupcake! So Stay Tuned!

Before I go though, I want to wish all of you a Blessed 2009 from my Family to yours - I hope 2009 will be the year that things that truly matter will happen for you, that you will find Love, families will be reunited, relationships will be cherished and most of all, that you will find God, because, when you do, everything else will fall into place!

One last thing, before I really zip off.. I have the pleasure of presenting to you, a new member of the Rodé-Chong family! Drum roll please!

Introducing.. 'Puppy'! our Budgie. For the longest time, the Girls and Ming have been bugging me for a Puppy, but Mom knows Best, our circumstances and habits hardly allows for it - so, we got a Bird instead and named him 'Puppy'! Not a bad idea, don't you think?

See you all real soon!

Carol xoxo

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cream Cheese-stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes

I turned 40 over the weekend. I did not wake up to find extra fine lines on my face or new crows' feet at the corner of my eyes. It wasn't raining buckets and the sky wasn't a gloomy grey. On the contrary! The sky was the prettiest blue and the odd cloud or two were like cotton -candy suspended in the air. And me? well, I was 40 and fabulous! So sue me! The way I see it, '40' is just another number and you are only as old as you feel. Anyway, we picked Chloe up from a sleep-over party a little past 10.30 am and then we were off to pick up Aquilla. Yes, I'm allowed to say his name now. A Q U I L L A. My 14 year-old daughter, Chloe's boyfriend, that is. Chloe and Aquilla have been 'going out' for about a month, now. And on the 12th of July, on my Birthday, it was official. It was official because he finally got Ming's permission to date our daughter. The 12th of July was the day that the whole family got to 'bond' with Aquilla.

Since they started this relationship, Chloe and Aquilla have been THE topic of conversation among their friends and ours. There has been expressions of sheer surprise as well as hush-hush gossiping, snickering, glares of disapproval and of envy from people we know and people we don't as a result of this young relationship. A few genuinely concerned friends asked me if I approved of this relationship. 'Approve'? I rejoice in it. I celebrate it. What's not to approve? Love is the most beautiful gift from God and Young Love is no different if there is loving support, guidance and understanding from parents. To put it in a blunt way, your kids are going to have relationships with or without your approval. The only difference is whether they let you in on their lives when they have these relationships. Do the math.

So.. continuing what I was saying earlier on, we picked Aquilla up from his home and proceeded to have lunch in one of our favorite restaurants, 'Little Seoul'. Aquilla was understandably nervous at first, being around 'the father'- the more 'intimidating parent ' as he puts it. I had gone shopping with the the girls and Aquilla the Thursday before, and we had broken the ice then. Ming was 'on the other side of the fence' (being 'the father', not 'the boyfriend) for the first time too, and I could tell he was 'fumbling' , not knowing for sure how to handle the situation. He told Aquilla a couple of embarrassing 'home truths' about Chloe which did break the ice but got Chloe a little grieved. Poor Chloe. After Lunch, we grabbed some cakes and slices from David Jones then headed for home.

Once we got home, I put out some tea and coffee and got out the cakes and the monopoly set. It was bonding time. I would say this day spent with Aquilla put our minds at ease as to where this young relationship was going. Parenting and Life doesn't come with a manual and we are learning the 'operations' one day at a time. One thing is for sure, I want to be a vital part of my daughters' lives, and if I have to break the 'mold' of this society's 'norms' and 'values' - so be it.

Chloe and Aquilla

Now.. let's talk cake, shall we? Ever since I came back from my Holiday, it's like I've been put under a 'Bad Cake Spell'! Every new recipe I've tried has been less than passable. To be fair though, I must admit that I am a terrible, terrible 'Cake Snob'. Don't misunderstand, I am not making an apology here. If the recipe is not up to my standards, I absolutely refuse to share it. So now you know why I haven't been posting for so long. I pondered over and over as to whether I would share this recipe. It's not the worst recipe I've tried, neither is it one of the best. But if I am to continue to post, I guess I will have to stop being such a perfectionist all the time.

Paige, Chloe and Aquilla

There were a few reasons why I wasn't 'comfortable' with this recipe. First, there was no BUTTER! This recipe requires 'Vegetable Oil' instead. ( If this had been a Sponge,it would have been ok) This almost sounded vulgar to me. Then, the recipe required the inclusion of Chocolate Chips ( which I omitted and replaced with melted dark chocolate) in the cream cheese filling in the center. The texture just felt all wrong in my head. The other ingredient I didn't approve of was instant coffee. I substituted that with Espresso. And the frosting.. how can I put this,.. The chocolate frosting was made from cocoa powder, not chocolate. It tasted artificial. It was rich but not satisfying, like a mocha made with chocolate flavored syrup for example, as opposed to a mocha made with real Belgian Chocolate. Do you know what I mean? I went with the recipe just to see how it would turn out.For the benefit of those of you who would like to try this recipe, I have altered the method of hiding the 'surprise' filling, so that it will not burst out of the cakes like magma from a volcano.

Ming, Paige, Aquilla and Chloe, skipping stones

We went for a walk in the Picturesque area where we live after our game and then we sent Aquilla home. I had a Birthday Dinner with the entire family after that at a new Vietnamese Restaurant in Victoria Park and then we returned to my place for Birthday Cake. It was lovely to have my sister Jacq bake me a Birthday Cake, as you can see, she's the artist in the family. Life is Good.

My Birthday Cake made by my extremely multi-talented and Gorgeous sister, Jacq

Look at the work Jacq put into decorating the cake! The mittens and choc-chip cookies are intricately fashioned with marzipan. Notice my computer on the oven? My Blog page is on it too! Thanks, Jacq! muaw!

The Rode/Chong Mob

I must get my Darling Photographer in one of the shots at least!

Cream Cheese-stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from this cookbook

for the filling

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup melted dark chocolate, cooled

for the cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Dutch -processed cocoa powder
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsps white vinegar
1 shot espresso (optional)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate frosting

8 tbsps unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 cup Double cream
a dash of espresso (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract

First, make the filling. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese until fluffy, scraping the bowl often. Blend in the egg yolk and vanilla and then add the sugar and melted dark chocolate. Mix well. Now, preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius and line your preferred cupcake tins with paper liners.

To make the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a large measuring jug, combine the water, oil, vinegar, espresso (if using) and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner one-third full of batter, then add a dollop of the cream cheese filling into the center before adding more batter on top to bring the batter to two-thirds full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cupcakes have puffed on top and are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the tins.

To make the frosting, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the caster sugar, cocoa and salt. The mixture might look grainy or sandy and this is ok. Whisk the cream and espresso into the cocoa mixture and cook over low heat, while stirring to dissolve the sugar grains. The mixture should get hot to the touch but never simmer or boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Cool the frosting a little before putting in the fridge to thicken. Stir the frosting every 15 minutes or so . When the frosting has thickened, remove from the fridge into the mixer and whip very quickly to get the frosting fluffy. Fill the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle then pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes as desired.

Hey, Look at what's NEW in Perth! If you live in this Beautiful city and Love Cooking, Baking and Food in general, read on!

What is Food Lover's Link about?

The Food Lover's Link is the newest Foodie Club to hit Perth! It's a gathering of people with a common interest in cooking, baking and most of all, Eating! Anyone can join this link and it's aim is to create new friendships and bond present ones. Free Cooking and Baking demonstrations take place at these meetings followed by a tasting session. Eating out and writing food reviews is another activity of the Food Lover's Link. Members can volunteer to do cooking/baking demos if they wish and on occasions we may invite Guests to do this. Perhaps you have a recipe you want to share. Meetings are held on Saturdays on a fortnightly basis. Come along and join us, you might just enjoy yourself!

For more information on the Venue and time for the Upcoming meeting, e-mail Carol Rode - or Tasia Limawan -

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Matcha Love Hearts

"..Give, give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace."

-Author unknown

One of my favorite bookshops in Perth is the 'Inspiration Factory' in Subiaco. I hardly ever leave the place without a purchase. Just last Saturday, Ming, the girls and I were spending the afternoon in Subi - Ming had decided to give Badminton a miss and just hang out with us. We've all been so busy with our own stuff ever since we came back from our holiday, so I guess it seemed appropriate for us all to put everything aside and just spend some time together, just the four of us. We grabbed some lunch at Nippon, got lured into a couple of stores displaying their "Up to 70% off everything" sales banners before we settled down for some drinks at Dome. We talked about so many things - how Ming can spend more time with me before I looked for his replacement in the form of a Gorgeous, Romantic Korean man (wink, wink), we teased Chloe relentlessly about her new boyfriend 'A', we laughed, we cried (from laughing so much) and we ironed out a few 'issues' that have been bothering us.

Then, we made our way to the 'Inspiration Factory'. Being there was like taking a breath of fresh air. I came across a book I hadn't seen before, 'Blossom - Affirmations for Personal Growth' by Janine Brown. After flipping a couple of pages of the book, I knew I couldn't let it go. I just loved it so much - there were so many quotes that were my own believes, and some that I wanted to believe in and embrace. The virtue of Generosity, the act of giving and sharing is a reward in itself because it brings so much joy to it's recipients. I came across a post on 'Green Tea Sweets' - Cookies that looked like jeweled-encrusted pieces of Jade in Foodbeam last week and couldn't help reading on. The recipe for these beautiful cookies won Kelli Bernard of Amai Tea and Bake House the Finalist Award for Best Bakery Recipe in's 2007 Golden Scoop Awards, and Kelli was generous enough to share her recipe with the whole world via her blog Lovescool.

These Matcha cookies have been the delight of so many Food Bloggers all over the globe since the release of it's recipe last year that I couldn't resist giving it a go myself, especially too, after my success with the Matcha Macarons last year. Besides reducing my oven temperature to 160 degrees celsius (fan-forced) and using salted butter, I followed Kelli's recipe closely. Oh, and I decided to use a Love Heart cookie cutter instead of a leaf-shaped one. After all, giving , sharing and love are inter-connected! The result was a distinctively Aromatic and buttery cookie with a delicate crumb.The slight bitterness of the matcha was complimented by the pretty sugar coating.

Matcha Love Hearts (Green Tea Sweets)

Yield : Approx 25 2' Love Heart Cookies

3/4 cup/ 2.25 oz/ 64 g Icing sugar
5 oz/142 g Salted butter, cut into cubes
1 3/4 cup/ 8.5 oz/ 241 g All-purpose flour
3 Large egg yolks
1.5 TBS Matcha (powdered green tea)
1 cup Granulated sugar (for coating)

* Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F( 160C fan-forced). Line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
* Whisk the icing sugar and green tea together in a bowl.
* Add the butter and green tea/sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until combined and smooth.
* Add the flour and mix until well combined.
* Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated and a mass forms.
* Form the dough into a disk and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes
* Roll the dough out to ½” thickness.
* Cut the dough with a Love Heart cookie cutter.
* Toss each cut cookie in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat.
* Place the sugar-coated cookie on the lined cookie sheet and bake at 180C/ 350F( 160C fan-forced) for 12-15 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.

Kelli Bernard and the team at Amai Tea and Bake House recommend that these cookies be served with light and sweet white teas or an aromatic Oolong.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Singapore 2008!

Boat Quay - by Sudharshan Murthy

About 2 months before our holiday, I received a very heart warming e-mail from my Best Friend Miti. It reads like this:

'I’ve got an assignment in Hong Kong on the dates that you'll be here and Eugene will bring the kids over to meet me . I would like for you, Ming and the girls to stay atmy new place. I guarantee that you’ll like it. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the MRT station. You and Ming can use my room and the girls can either share a room if they like or they can use the kid’s rooms. Call it house-sitting!

When you stay here, you do not need to bring anything … not even your toothbrushes . My domestic helper will be here, she will change the bed sheets, clean after you and even feed you. Just tell Ani (her name), I would like Assam Pork, Gado-Gado and Onde Onde for dinner … she’ll know what to do! There’s no need to have the keys as Ani will be home except for Sunday. You can get the keys from her if you like. Feel free to use our home like it's your own and tell Ani if there's anything else you might need.

Some facts about my place –

There are 5 bedrooms plus 1 maid’s room.

3 bathrooms and plus one toilet.

You can use the computers, they're in the office on the third floor

The supermarket is 10 minutes walk from my place

Get the Car Keys from Ani if you would like to use the car

There's a Bus Stop just outside our place too

The swimming pool is right at the door step, there’s a gym as well.

The kitchen is open concept – you can cook whatever you like, we have both outdoor and indoor cooking. It’s usually well stocked; you can get your milk and eggs from the supermarket when they run out, or you can send Ani to get it.

Since my kids are all young, they are perfectly happy to bunk in with us on the floor – we have loads of extra mattresses and they love sleepover parties! So,there’s no need for you to move when we return from our trip. We’ve got enough room for everyone. I think I’ve covered everything … let me know what else you need.
Happy house sitting!

Love, Miti '

Wouldn't you just LOVE to have a friend like this? A Friend like Miti is like a Hug from God. Coincidently we were making accommodation arrangements when she so generously offered us to stay in her home, and what a home it is!

The main entrance opens up to the pools

Paige, enjoying a snack after a dip in the pool

Chloe and Paige - what are they doing??!

This is THE life!

Paige sure knows how to relax..

How to make 'Lemper' - 'Lemongrass infused Glutinous Rice wrapped around Spicy Chicken. Ani is a great cook! We enjoyed 3 meals prepared by her this trip.

Ani wrapping up the 'Lemper' for our tea time treat..


Our favorite place to eat when we're out and about shopping is at the 'Food Republic' . We've been to two of these chain food courts so far, one with a ' yesteryear village' simulation theme and the other with an 'old library' theme.

Deciding where to go after a satisfying meal at Food Republic, Suntec City

Don't you just love the colors in this pic?

Paige and I posing for a photo. Notice the 'books' behind us? This Food Republic chain is the one with the 'Old Library' theme. Very cosy indeed..

A Roast Chicken Rice set

Beef Bulgogi

Chicken Bibimbap

'Loh Bak'- an assortment of fried snacks

Singapore Laksa

Notice the 'Old Village' theme decor? I love those colored shutters..

What about the suspended antique Bicycles and Bird Cages? Cool, huh?


Ming and I

What do you do when you meet up with relatives? Eat Of course! Ming's uncle who is an ardent Fishing and Boating fan, invited us to the Singapore Yacht Club for Dinner one evening. The Dinner was great - we got to 'hand-pick' our seafood and have it cooked the way we wanted. I didn't take any photos of the food though, I thought it would be rude to let everybody wait while I positioned their food this way and that while I snapped. After dinner as the sun was setting, I excused myself from the table and took these shots..

The Yacht Club Restaurant


This is what serenity looks like

So peaceful..

Again, Ahhh...

The pool by the restaurant

Can someone help me with this caption? I don't really want to say 'Ahhh..' again

Wouldn't you like to spend an evening here?

Paige came looking for mommy

The girls dipping their feet

On our last trip here, we had the pleasure of meeting the Gorgeous Annette Tan of 'Greedy Goose'. This trip, Annette invited us over to her place for Dinner - she cooked up a storm of the yummiest Peranakan fare, a Eurasian Devilled Curry, A Berry Clafoutis (?) and served up flavor after flavor of the most beautiful home-made ice-creams! We had the privilege of meeting Mervin, Annette's very cute and youthful-looking partner, her good friend Deborah and her lovely, lovely critters Ralph and Oxford.

The Feast..

Annette and the girls

Annette, the girls and the frolicking hounds!

The great thing about going to S'pore is that I get to catch-up with old friends. I've known Yean , Dee and Stefan since my school days. We met for Dinner at 'Bayang' , an Indonesian restaurant in Clarke Quay and later for coffee and cake at 'Nectarie'.

We passed a quirky looking bar on the way to Dinner - 'C Clinic'- all the seats are either wheelchairs or hospital bed look-alike thingys. What a strange concept!

See what I mean?

Another Bar - this time a Moroccan Shisha Bar. Don't you just love the lighting at the entrance?

A group of Latin Dancers at the Samba Lounge (I forget the name)posing for a shot

Here we are at our Dinner venue - 'Bayang' which means 'shadows'

The 'Shadow Puppets' at 'Bayang'

The girls on the left, then across, Ming, Dee and Yean sitting at the far end

Most of us ordered this - Spicy Grilled Chicken

Ming's order of 'Bebek Panggang' - Grilled Duck

Paige's favorite side dish - Stirfriend Sambal Kangkong (Watercress). Behind that are our drink orders of 'Chendol' and Avacado shakes

My little poser, Paige

Our Dessert Venue, 'Nectarie'

My Good Buddie, Stefan, Ming and I

Say 'Cheese'!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Mango Mousse Cake

Raspberry and Gianduja Mousse

New York Cheesecake

There are two other people that I adore in Singapore and they are Stefan's Dad and Mom, Chee Nan and Mei Ho. They are like parents to me. This time around, Uncle Chee Nan was out of town but I managed to pay Aunty Mei a visit..

The girls, Aunty Mei and I at Aunty Mei's 'Heartroom Gallery' in Owen Road near Farrer Park MRT. Mei Ho is a Brilliant Folk Artist. She conducts folk art painting classes at the gallery and does pieces on commission. Proceeds from the sale of her work goes to the Church. She's an AMAZING lady and a great inspiration to me.

The girls showing off their gifts from Aunty Mei

Two days before I left Singapore, Miti returned from her trip to Hong Kong and we did what two best friends do. We hung out, went for a massage, and had meals together. We didn't get to visit 'Lodger' (Roger) my Reflexologist in China Town this time around though, which is unfortunate, but I will make a point of doing so on our next trip.

Miti and I

Miti and her wonderful doting husband, Eugene

We had dinner at the 'Soup Restaurant'. Unfortunately we only remembered to take photos of two of the dishes we had. This is their Signature Homemade Egg Tofu.

Stewed Pork Ribs

This concludes my report on my Singapore vacation. I hope you've enjoyed reading this post. Loading so many photos was a pain in the bum! Have a great weekend, everyone!