A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
Last Christmas Little One was a little too young to understand all the fuss about Christmas. Now that she is a little older, she is more curious about it - she even helped me set up and decorate our Christmas tree. My sister-in-law not only taught her to sing 'Petit Papa Nöel' a week before xmas (she has been singing this song non stop since then ), she also talked to her about Papa Nöel (Santa Claus) and how she has to be a good little girl or else Papa Nöel won't bring lots of gifts for her. Mémé (grandmother), bless her sweet heart, bought a Santa suit and got someone to give Little One a surprise visit on the eve of xmas. Little One took a look at Santa and ran hide behind mémé's legs and refused to look at Santa no matter how much coaxing from him or mémé. It was only when he took out a present from his bulging santa sack that Little One started to warm up to him and even gave him a kiss on his cheeks for the present. After Santa left, she couldn't stop talking about Santa.
No festive holiday is complete without cookies, especially when Santa is expecting some, so here's the cookies that I did bake for this occasion.
It turned out pretty good - very aromatic and crunchy but a wee bit too sweet to our taste. - I love the combination of the coconut and pandan flavour with those bits of dark chocolates and nuts.
For those who like their cookies just nice and not too sweet, please reduce the sugar quantity from the recipe.
What a summer we had this year!
Lucky for us, it wasn't too hot in Clermont-Ferrand but down South of France like Oraison or Montpellier where we spent 2 weeks, we felt like we were being baked. We could only go out in the morning from 8 am to 10.30 am. After that, the temperature started going up to 31°C or 33°C. By noon, all of us were already withering from the heat. We were so glad to head back to the house for a siesta before going out again at 4.30 pm. Even at 4.30 pm, the heat was quite unbearable. We went for lots of walks around the town, nearby villages, to the lakes and the seaside. By the way, the drive from Clermont-Ferrand to Montpellier is extremely scenic (I wish I had my video cam) and best of all, the highway is 'FREE' (very rare in France).
Since Monday, we are busy preparing everything for our kitchen to be redone, before we leave for Singapore tomorrow. Yep, we are leaving tomorrow and our luggages aren't even packed yet. Up till this morning, we were still out shopping for our kitchen table top. Talk about stress. Do we really need to do this to ourselves before we leave tomorrow? No, but what choice do we have - the guy who is going to redo our kitchen suddenly called us up 2 weeks ago saying that he can do our kitchen in mid September. We were overjoyed of course given the fact that in France, everything moves so slow especially in the renovation business - the craftsman are hard to get. If we missed this chance, we might have to wait for another 6 months before he could fix our kitchen. Everything is done in such a mad rush. I also learned from my significant other that we had to assemble the kitchen cabinet for the guy to put it in place etc, and that we also have to dismantle our present cabinet ourselves. There I was thinking that the quote the guy gave us included everything like it does in Singapore. Well, guess that's another culture shock for me. Pierre said 'Sure, everything can be done, one just need to pay for it and the price is an exorbitant one ! In France, manual labour is very expensive, that is why everyone tries to renovate their house themselves or with the help of connections and relatives.
I have to thank my parents-in-law for helping us and guiding us in buying all the necessary stuff and my sister-in-law for house sitting for us. THANK YOU!
Before departing for Singapore, I would like to leave you a great cookie recipe that is simple and easy to make. It doesn't take very long to whip it up and bake as well.
Surprisingly delicious and aromatic - it has a full nutty flavour, buttery taste, with delicious bites of mixed chocolates and not forgetting the presence of vanilla flavour as well - wow! Pierre and Little One couldn't stop eating them. In fact, they are fighting over who gets the biggest first. My friends said it is as good as Famous Amos cookies and that I should bake more and sell them from home.
Before this, I never quite succeeded in making chocolate chip cookies but this time around, they came out beautifully and delicious. I'm so happy.
The baking time depends on how hot is your oven. For mine, I discovered that my oven browns them pretty fast and I only baked them for 12 to 13 minutes. The more batches I made, the hotter my oven turns so either I lower my oven temperature or shorten the baking time.
As for the combination, leave it all dark or white chocolates if you like. Try different nuts or add raisins.
It has been quite a while since we have a weekend alone sans Little One. So when my parents-in-law offered to look after her, we took it up without any hesitation. Pierre was already planning which restaurants to check out, what to do in Paris etc while I was torn between being happy to have some couplehood time alone at last and feeling like I have abandoned my little girl behind and worried about this and that (like a typical mother ). Pierre kept reassuring me that she would be fine and I should relax and enjoy this rare 'us' time alone but I was too stressed up. Needlessly to say, I hadn't slept well on the first night as I was too worried about how Little One was adapting with her grandparents and whether she was crying for us or not etc. Upon my insistence, Pierre called home the next day to check on her and was told that she passed a wonderful day out with her grandparents and enjoyed herself thoroughly and that she didn't asked for us once (to my surprise and a bit of a disappointment - Am I being selfish to want her to miss us just a little bit?). After the phone call, I thought 'tonight I can have a good night sleep.' ha! What a joke that was... We were woken up by the lady living upstairs at 4 am. As you know, many apartment in Paris have thin walls and floors so one can literally hear the neighbour next door or upstairs.
Anyway when Little One joined us finally a few days later, she didn't seems to miss us at all... I guess my little girl is growing up and no longer my little baby. We brought her sightseeing Paris and checking out the restaurants... she loves wraps and club sandwiches just as chinese dim sum. The 3,5 hour train ride home went uneventful, thank goodness. We were pretty worried that she might get bored and start to run around etc. At the end of the train ride, she made friend with a Maltese which growled at her in the beginning and she wasn't the least afraid of him. She insisted on patting and caressing him despite his hissing. *eyes rolling upwards* Then she decided to wander off from us even though I told her to stay put ... she walked away confidently waving and saying 'au revoir mommy' ... then started bawling her eyes out when a burly mustachio man smiled at her from his seat. So much for her little adventure.
Today I would like to share with you a delicious muffin recipe that I made before I left for Paris. I call it Banana Muffin Surprise because you never know what you gonna get. Hope you like it.
These muffins are very flavourful, light, moist and super delicious. Everyone started checking out the muffins at microscopic range after I told them that each muffin contains different stuff inside it. ... of course everyone is battling over each other to get either the dark chocolates or nutella ones ... I tell you I have a bunch of chocoholics in my house.
My mother-in-law who was watching her lines couldn't help but ate 2 of them. My father-in-law and Pierre were happily chomping down the muffins and see who gets the most chocolate ones out of the batch.
I thought we wouldn't be able to finish all of them and that I would have to freeze some of them. To my great surprise, they were so good that only 3 were left at the end of tea time.
I have made these again just last week and I have beaten all the wet ingredients together at one go with a fork - with this method, muffins are more compact but still moist, flavourful and delicious.
In all my baking, I use only salted butter (and I usually skip the salt part in the recipe). And I used 1½ tsp baking powder instead as I didn't have any bicarbonate of soda in my cupboard.