Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Week-long of baking

I had a wonderful week of preparing four cakes.  It was surprising to receive one order after another and I consider that a great blessing.  Three of the cakes had chocolate chiffon bases but had varying fillings and frostings.

First one was for my husband's workmate's birthday.  This is the fourth cake their office has ordered from me within a few months.  I was told this was the best so far.  The hero in this cake is really the wonderful frosting. 

Chocolate chiffon with Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting and Filling

I learned how to fan the strawberry from the show Junior Masterchef!
Up next was another Ube Macapuno Cake.  This kind of cake is fast becoming my signature cake!  I have made this more times than any other cake in the recent months.

Instead of making a 9" round, 3-layered cake,  I made a 10" round, 2-layer one which was just as good.
Third cake was for my son's friend's 9th birthday.  The boy loves Pokemon, hence, the cake topper. I love this one because it is very clean and simple.  And of course, the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream is so, so good.

Last cake, which I finished just today is frosted this time with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The one who ordered this requested for flower decorations and nut topping.  I used toasted macadamia nuts...I think I may have just overdone it a bit....let's just hope they like macadamia...

I moulded the gumpaste roses a few days ago.  They turned out quite well despite the fact that I opted not to use any flower cutters or forming tools.

Well, that's it for my cakes.  I hope to take a break from baking for a while unless another order comes in soon.  That is most welcome of course....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Super Mario character cupcakes

A family friend's son is having his 7th birthday party today. The parents had earlier ordered a Super Mario themed birthday cake from the local bakeshop but had later decided they wanted cupcakes for the party as well. Yesterday, at the last minute, the boy's mom asked me if she could order 24 red velvet cupcakes from me, preferably with the mushroom character from Super Mario as topper. Given the short notice, I really wanted to decline but I just couldn't and didn't have the heart to. You see, the birthday boy has actually become quite close to me as he rides with us from school everyday and I wanted him, of course, to have a fun party. So yeah, I said yes.

Frankly, I had no idea what to do. I thought I could model the figures with gumpaste but then, given my poor knowledge in this area of cake decorating, how could I pull it off in so short a time? I tried to remember a few techniques I have learned from my frequent visits to cake decorating websites.

Luckily, I had some coloured gumpaste ready, plus I had the tools needed. Yesterday afternoon, in between doing the laundry, picking my kids up from school and feeding them, I came up with these...

The mushroom figures actually turned out pretty straightforward to do. Not perfect, I know, but then, I didn't expect perfect. Early this morning, I baked the cupcakes and before lunch, had all of them frosted, done and ready to go! 

I could only hope the birthday boy likes them. As for me, it was a pleasure making the toppers. I always enjoy learning something new.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Project: My recipe journal

When it comes to my cooking, my kids are my biggest fans. Although I do not cook anything fancy, they nevertheless look forward to most meals because they know I would cook up something they would love to eat. And the dessert...that makes them even happier. One of the things I would want to pass on to them are, of course, the recipes. I would love for my children to learn to cook the food that they grew up with and be able to share them with their own families in the future.

For this reason, I have started an important project...my recipe journal. At the moment, the recipes I use are all over the place -- in cookbooks, computer printouts, handwritten notes, etc. My dream is to have a single compilation of my family's most loved recipes. It would include recipes that have been handed down to me as well by my own mother and my aunts.

I would like it to be very personal. It is certainly much easier to type up the recipes on the computer but I would rather have them handwritten. So when my children would read through the recipes, they would have memories not only of the food but of me.

Today, I bought myself a hardbound notebook and then I dressed it up with my fabric journal cover.

I purchased the fabrics from Spotlight a while back. You've seen glimpses of them in my patchwork zippered pouch but this recipe journal is a more suitable use for them.

I haven't started writing a recipe down yet. I have to do this with patience to make sure it will be a beautiful legacy. The first page I will be reserving as a dedication page so my kids will know that this was lovingly done for them.

Can't wait to get this project going.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

CLASSIC Mini Messenger Bag

I remember hearing it on Oprah, in one of the makeover shows. They were discussing about bags and one of the fashion experts said that a printed bag for everyday use is a big 'no-no'. I'm no fashion-conscious person and have definitely been using printed bags that do not even match my clothes.

When the zipper on my everyday bag broke a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to replace it with a solid/neutral-coloured bag. I didn't have any fabric on hand and put off making a new bag until I saw this fabric yesterday, on sale at $4 for a 2 meter bundle.

Black with CLASSIC written all over it.  The colour is actually a much deeper black in person.
Classic...but you might also say, boring.  I didn't even know what kind of fabric it was.  It's silky smooth but thick. I was also unsure if it was appropriate material.  But I had a bag idea in my mind and so went ahead and purchased it just the same.  A few hours later, I proudly had this...

My mini messenger bag!
Front view, flap open, showing zip top closure and two pockets

Inside, with pre-quilted lining (leftover from this project)
The difference with this design and the original mini messenger bag is that I used an all-purpose zipper instead of an open-end one. The zipper is 10" long and the end is just covered with a fabric tab. I didn't have to make a new strap...the long strap here was saved from an old bag.

Close-up of tab
The great thing about using black (aside from the fact that it will match anything) is that all my sewing imperfections are not obvious! It's been a long time since I last made a messenger bag so my skills are definitely a little rusty. Overall though, I am really happy with what I've accomplished. And since there's a lot of this fabric left, I can foresee more bags to come. Yay!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Losing weight by sewing

I spent some time sewing before I went to bed last night.  I managed to finish the zippered pouch I started the other day (the one with scraps from my wallet).

This pouch is about 5" by 7", smaller than the other one I made.
Although I finished it, I was not completely happy with it, firstly because I wasn't too interested in the fabrics I chose and secondly, because I encountered several problems while making it.  Not that it was hard...I just wasn't as focused as I needed to be.

I used the patchwork stitch to quilt the pouch this time.
That ladybird lining fabric looks familiar, doesn't it?
I like spending hours and hours sewing, you know why?  When I'm sewing, I completely forget about eating or snacking unnecessarily. 

It's that time of the year again when I have to shed off some weight. My kids always say I'm not fat. Well, it's true, I'm not.  When I gain weight though, I don't like the feeling of being heavy or bloated.  Come to think of it, I actually eat healthily (most times anyway).  But the problem is, I've given up on exercising...

I know it's not right but this is just the way it always goes for me.  I get to my goal weight quickly (within a few weeks) then I gradually gain the weight back throughout the year.  I think I gained the most this year because of all the baking I've been doing. Last night, I made some carrot cupcakes for my kids to take to school today and now I have to resist eating one!

Oh well, I'll let you know in a few weeks how it all went for me.  For now, I have to think of things to sew!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Discovering corn dogs

Pardon my ignorance, but until recently, I never knew why corn dogs were called such.  Where I came from, these were mostly called "hotdogs on a stick" and the batter used to coat the hotdogs were not much different from pancake batter (maybe only a little bit thicker).  This was how I've been cooking our version of corn dogs ever since. 

But having discovered from a google search that corn dogs actually had cornmeal (I should have known!), I will never go back to cooking these the old way again.  Cornmeal seems to be an unusual find in Australian supermarkets.  I was lucky I found an organic one in the health food aisle of Coles.  Polenta seems to be more readily available.  I wonder if it will work the same way?  It's also cornmeal, isn't it?  It does look exactly the same....

Aren't these just beautiful?
I don't know if the recipe I used is an authentic corn dog recipe but who cares?  We love, love, love these.  I usually use cocktail franks instead of the bigger franks or hotdogs because they are easier to handle and also because it saves me from using so much oil for deep frying.

Try them!

CORN DOGS (adapted from allrecipes.com)

1 cup maize (corn) meal
1 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
vegetable oil for deep frying
cornflour for coating
32 skinless cocktail franks (2 packs of 310 grams each)
32 small bamboo skewers

1.  In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, sugar, and baking powder.  Stir in egg and milk.

2.  Meanwhile, preheat oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. 

3.  Dry off the franks on paper towels then toss them in cornflour, coating them completely.  (This is necessary to ensure that the batter will stick to the franks.) Insert a bamboo skewer into each frank.

4.  Scoop some of the cornmeal batter into a small, narrow glass or cup.  Dip the frank into the batter and swirl to coat it evenly.  Let the excess drip off.

5.  Deep fry 2 or 3 corndogs at a time until lightly browned.  Drain on paper towels.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One more time

I don't know why...but everytime I am so happy with something I sew, I end up making a second one, even though I do not really need to. I just can't seem to stop at one.

Yes, you guessed it...I made another wallet.

As you can see, I've already transferred my stuff into this one.  I actually like the fabrics on the first wallet more and I've done better stitching on that one too.  This wallet, however, is much sturdier, owing to the fact that I used heavier interfacing. I like it better that way, hence, the change.  The good thing is, I've now got an extra wallet on reserve!

I was in the process of making another pouch from the leftover fabrics as well, but then my machine's stitches started going awry (I don't why) and I just had to stop, else I'll just be frustrated. That would have to wait for now.

Tomorrow, I will be working on another cake order and then another one on Sunday. I'm really very grateful and blessed that I am able to do this, as well as have my small Etsy shop, whilst being a stay at home mom. It seems I am doing pretty ok...