Monday, December 28, 2009
Amidst all the holiday festivities, I had somehow convinced B to join in the Boxing Day shopping frenzy - but only limited to snowboarding gears. We had ran around from store to store and finally made it to Corbett's in Oakville yesterday - only to find out that the Burton Feather 2010 (which I had set my eyes on) with bindings was on special for $330 BUT they were all SOLD OUT. It was love at first sight with the board - and honestly, I'm too much of a beginner to know if all the other features of the board were suitable for my skill level. And everywhere we've looked, the lowest price we had seen was $320 (at SportChek, limited quantities). So at $330 it's a steal because it's almost as if they're throwing in the Burton bindings for free!! I was so excited when I heard about the deal that I was crushed by disappointment when he came back saying the package's all sold out. Apparently they were all gone by afternoon on Boxing Day, so we made it there a day too late. B, on the other hand, scored a bunch of stuff and now has a completely new set of gear for our Blue Mountain trip.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Since it was decided that today would be the day for holiday treats at work, we set to work on the rest of our cookies. I think Michelle and I make a really good team in the kitchen - we set up an assembly line of sorts where I would portion the dough, she would roll them and place them and flatten them on the cookie sheet which I would then stick into the oven, and I would remove the tray of cookies from the oven and she would take them off for cooling. She was also in charge of QC - anything that didn't pass her inspection ended up as being samples for us and for my family. We were quite efficient, as a matter of fact, that by the time we were done we had more than enough for both of our trays. All in all, our bake-off was a success, and the extra cookies will be packed to become gifts for my dear friends.
I had doubled the recipe for the ginger cookies seeing how I had to keep making more batches last Christmas, but at the same time we had decided to make smaller bite-sized cookies. In the end, we must have gotten over 15 dozens of them. Michelle was also the creative one - she made little heart-shaped ones and ones with smiley faces and these turned out absolutely adorable.
I also started the batter for some coconut macaroons but as it was running late I had to finish those on my own. It was much less fun to bake by myself but I was kept busy by the fact that these macaroons were quite tricky to form. The recipe called for a chocolate drizzle after they have cooled, but Michelle and I both thought these little golden balls were already sweet enough and didn't really need the extra touch. Plus, it was getting late and I was alone and I just wanted to be done with it. They were still very popular though, because these were the first ones to run out on the table.
Monday, December 14, 2009
My coworker has had Nawab's butter chicken at the Thornhill location before and had raved about it for a long time, so she called before we went to make sure that the butter chicken would be part of the set lunch for the non-vegetarians. For the vegetarian option my coworker had requested to have somethine other than daal, and they were very accomodating. For $7.99 (+ tax & tip), the set lunch was served as a thali (on a stainless steel tray with sections) and included 2 appetizers, 2 curries, a salad, along side naan and rice as well as a gulab juman for dessert.
We weren't really crazy about the garlic vegetable balls which were soft and soggy, but the tandoori chicken tikka was so tender and flavourful that we wouldn't mind having more. For the 2 curries we had butter chicken as requested, and the other was a dish with small spinach patties in a creamy yellow curry called palak kofta. I'm not sure if I liked the patties because of their texture, but the curry was amazing. And my coworker was right - it was the best butter chicken I've had, and I've had butter chicken pretty much everywhere else we've gone to because it is usually the tamest dish in terms of spiciness. The naan was awesome as well, a little on the thin side but crispy on the outside and tenderly soft inside.
Too bad they didn't offer refills (hence "set lunch" rather than "buffet" or "thali"). But then again for the amount of food they serve there wasn't really a need for refills if one were to finish each and every dish. It was so much more enjoyable than Eddie's - both food-wise and service-wise. We are already planning our next visit before we even got back to work.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
On Saturday we diligently went to Goodlife to work out, then headed out to the mall to pick up Moose. We have been wanting to pick him up from Build-a-Bear Workshop a while ago, but something always comes up (when we still had the nice weather and all) and when we finally set our mind to it last weekend, we found out that Markville Mall doesn't have a store! Apparently, Build-a-Bear only has shops around Toronto - Mississauga and Hamilton and Vaughan and Oshawa (and even London and Kitchener each has a store) - but not a single store in the city. So this weekend we made sure we would go to Square One because that's where I saw Moose for the first time.
The store was very busy, with little kids running around and their parents going after them. There were groups of older kids too, and then there were us. I was quite upset and disappointed when I found that Moose was gone - the only moose they had was the holiday edition named Holly and Hal. Hal has a string of christmas lights dangling on his antlers, while Holly (who has not antlers) look more like a skinny hippo. They were nothing like the Moose that I fell in love with.
I was about to leave with a frown but B. insisted that I should check with the store lady, so I did, and pleasantly she informed us that Moose was still available, but he was just hiding in the back to make way for the Holiday moose. I was almost overjoyed! We did have to wait for a bit because it was quite busy in the store and they were understaffed so nobody had a chance to fetch Moose from the back for me. It was worth the wait though - even B. found him adorable!
After we finally got the moose skin, we had to stuff him - with plenty of fluff and a heart. We then had to brush him and fluff him before we dressed him up. There were so many outfits to choose from! It was a good thing that B. decided that Moose would be a boy, because that limited the choices by half. There was a really nice Harley Davidson faux leather jacket that fitted Moose just right, but I would have to say Moose was most handsome in his RCMP uniform. We ended up putting him in a red and white track suit that says "Canada" because it was a zip-up. I'd have to say, he's very good-looking :)
Today I made B lunch and dinner and after dinner, made my third attempt at Sponge Cake! I was reminded on Friday that I will have to return the stand mixer soon, so I thought I should at least master this one recipe before that happens. We have extra large eggs that we picked up from Costco, so I only used 8 instead of the 10 specified in the recipe. I found these XL eggs are a lot more difficult to separate the whites from the yolks - and the yolks broke more easily and the whites seemed to be more watery. Other than that I followed the recipe to the tee, except for the cooling part (again). So far I have not had a single time where I was able to fend off B and my family before the cake has had proper time to cool.
The cake had collapsed before it came out of the oven just like the last few times I made it. And this one turned out darker too, even though the temperature and rack position remained the same. I found a small section in the middle of the cake to be denser than the rest, probably because the batter did not get properly folded into the whites. They all loved it nonetheless, and Dad even said it was almost perfect. I already got a request for another attempt - seems like they're not sick of it yet.
Friday, December 11, 2009
In less time than it took for the oven to preheat, we had already rolled tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and they were ready to be baked. Since I only had 2 cookie sheets, we alternated them so one is always in the oven baking. These little balls of dough needed a lot of room because they melted and spread during baking - each 1" ball yielded a 3" cookie. Since the cookies turned out so big, we decided to do half-tablespoonfuls to make smaller ones. These ones came out the perfect size! The cookies were quite soft straight out of the oven, but crisped as they cooled. Personally, I like them hot and soft with all the gooey white chocolate goodness.
All in all, it was a breeze to make, and we only had one batch of cookies that failed Michelle's QC inspection - because we were too greedy and wanted to fit too much on the cookie sheet, and the cookies melted into each other as they baked so they didn't get the nice round shape the others had.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Because the sale was only open until 8 PM on Friday, I arranged to come into work early to leave early. However, it didn't exactly turn out the way I intended it to - I still missed my goal by half an hour even though I woke up 2 hours earlier than usual. Instead of taking Hwy. 401 directly from work, I took a little detour - went on Derry Rd. all the way to Airport Rd., which took me to Hwy. 409 and evetually the 401. It was definitely more complicated and convoluted, but I am sure it also saved me a lot of time because rush hour traffic on the 401 is horrendous - especially on a Friday afternoon. I by-passed a large chunk of the traffic jam on the 401 but it was still bumper-to-bumper until after Yonge St. It took over an hour and a half to get to Markham, but I guess it would have been worse if I had gotten on the 401 from Mississauga Rd.
Michelle and I met up at 16th and Woodbine and went up to Markham Fairgrounds together - that part only took us about 10 minutes - and we were quite eager to get in. Thankfully there wasn't a line-up and we went straight in. It was quite crowded at the tables, so despite our plan to logically follow a route, we ended up having to go here and there to avoid being elbowed by older ladies who were not patient enough to wait their turns. We found good deals from parfum to make up palettes to brushes to gift boxes, and I ended up doing close to $400 worth of damage. In return, I got the Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair, a Clinique travel case with mascara, blush, eye shadow and lip gloss along with 3 small brushes, a beautiful kabuki brush (that I have always wanted) from Estée Lauder, an "*magic illuminating liquid potion" from Prescriptives, a liquid blush from Clinique, some Hello Kitty limited edition powder compacts from M.A.C., a shampoo/conditioner set that is organic and sulphates-free, a bunch of other makeup stuff to experiment with, some gift sets and about a hundred dollars worth of stuff I picked up for my colleague.
We had so much fun trying on all the different shades of eyeshadows and powder, and while we were there we stuck up a conversation with this lady who seemed to be working for M.A.C. "Ooh I can't believe they have it here!!" She would proclaim, "this is selling at our counter for double the price!!" Of the M.A.C. paint pot she said "I use this every day, it's great!" before trying it on her hand to show what a difference it makes - the color of the eye shadow shows up so much more intensely when applied after this eye primer. Of the Hello Kitty compact she said "don't worry this won't be too yellow on you, it's more of a peachy color and it will give you a nice glow." So guess what? I picked up one of each item she recommended. She must be a really good salesperson :)
By the time Michelle and I had made the rounds (from the first Hall to the second to the last then back to the second again to pick up more stuff), they were shooing us out. Some workers there started to behave less than polite, but it make sense - they can't go home if we don't go home. We had no trouble finding our car on the way out, because there were hardly any cars left in the parking lot and we spotted it right away. We met up with our BFs for a nice Japanese dinner afterwards - I think it was called Ichiban - and we were so exhausted that all other plans for that evening were cancelled so we could go home and sleep.
The extra Saturday ticket I gave away to the same colleague I picked up stuff for - and she ended up calling me on Saturday asking me to go with her. As I stood in the line with my colleague I couldn't stop thinking how CRAZY I must be to be there again. This time we arrived there around 1:30PM and the line-up was huge! We waited for almost 30 minutes until we got inside. There were a lot of "I should have picked up more of those" and "I should have bought that too", but I had an idea of where things were, and we knew we were under a tight time constraint, so we were quite quick and efficient in making our buying decisions. I had to exercise my self-restraint - otherwise I would have picked up a lot more cosmetics to play with. (Say, why would I need 3 different eye liners all in similar colors and why would I need 5 different lip glosses when I'm too lazy to reach for anything other than my lip balm?)
Somehow I still managed to do another $400 worth of damage - even though what I bought was not entirely for me. I am still reeling in the fact that I just blew so much money in one weekend, but looking at my new skincare and makeup collection, I have resolved to be better to myself and make use of all that I've bought.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It was already not a happy day to start with because yesterday was the last day for a colleague that started in this company around the same time as I did. Then there was the news that our company is no longer privately-held - the acquisistion deal has gone through between the Big Pharma Inc. from the States and our parent company. I didn't think that I would be affected so much because I have only been here for a year and a bit, but afterall this was my first job in this industry I have always wanted to work in, and I was a little sad that the company where I started my career may no longer exist.
In between talks of what might happen to us in the future, I found out that Michelle and I might be able to go to the MAC sale together this weekend. I have been looking forward to it as my stash from the last sale has already been depleted, and all the more excited because I would get to go with Michelle this time. The colleague who was leaving dropped by to say goodbye, and I managed to sneak him the little bag of baked goodies I had prepared without getting caught. Yes, I had to "sneak", because I get teased to no end by the ladies I work with everything they see me talking with him. I am more than a little bummed out that he is leaving, but I am glad to see him landing a job that he will probably find more rewarding.
Then came the news that we might get bonuses this year - I had never gotten bonuses because my first full-time job was at a business operated by Chinese people, and Chinese business people are famous for being stingy. Anyway, this is going to be the FIRST bonus I get and from the way the others are talking about it it may just make a really nice christmas/birthday gift! However, there were also talks of how they hand out bonuses on one hand and a pink slip on the other hand... So we don't really know if it's all good news.
After work I finally went to the Bay to return some impulse purchases, and stopped by Bulk Barn to pick up everything we needed for our gingerbread house project. I walked around the store with my little shopping cart and filled it up with shiny and colorful decorations - ready made icings, mini satin candies, chocolate teenies, gum drops, mints and sprinkles. I even picked up some chocolate pebbles to use as a walkway around the house. I found most stuff there, but I still can't believe the silver dragées were all sold out!! I stopped at another candy store on the way out of the mall and again at No Frills with no luck. I was quite disappointed and still feel that way when I look at what our house looks like now.
Well, other than the missing silver balls, we went ahead with decorating our gingerbread house - my first time making one. That was so much fun! Although we both think that I was overdoing it - especially on my side of the roof. I wonder if the roof will stay up because it's honestly quite heavy.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
First we stopped by Burlington Coat Factory - sort of like Winners, except bigger and crappier. It does offer a big selection of everything - from aisles and aisles of coats (hence its name) to fashion accessories like purses and belts and cheap jewellery to lousy perfume sets to clothings for women (of all sizes), men and children to home furnishing like beddings and curtains. There are some nice brands like Guess and BCBGirls, but there were also fakes like "Charles Klein" (or maybe I just haven't heard of that brand). I remember last time we went there were some good deals, but we didn't see any clearance deals this time around and were quite disappointed. After almost 2 hours of rummaging through the racks and piles, only one of us found something (in fact, she's found a men's CK long down-filled jacket for less than $50 USD, 2 pairs of shoes for her daughter and a pair of runners for her son, on top of a bunch of other stuff). Coincidentally, she was the one who suggested that we take the detour 30 minutes away from where our main destination was. Next time I will know better to let her know that we would rather spend more time at where we had planned to go.
Anyhow, we arrived at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls on Military Road before 3 o'clock and rushed through the stores - we didn't think we would have enough time to see everything we wanted to see. In fact, we didn't have enough time to see everything we wanted to see - I had wanted to check out shoes and Burberry and Juicy and Calvin Klein, and I wanted to spend more time at Aeropostale and Liz Claibourne. There was a line-up to get into the Coach store, but it wasn't a long line and they kept us busy by offering us mint candies with the Coach logo printed on the wrappers. They even handed out a extra-20%-off coupon when we entered the store. The store was packed and there were shoppers holding on to 3 to 4 purses at a time. The salespeople had trouble keeping merchandise on the shelf because as soon as they put a bag down the shoppers would grab it. There were some nice new styles and also a lot of what we've already seen before, but they didn't have the crossbody purse I really really wanted. Since we were running out of time we rushed through the other stores and didn't find much else, and we were exhausted and starved by the time the stores started turning off the lights.
I was hoping to head home after 6PM when the mall closed, but the ladies I was with had other ideas. We stopped by Marshalls, then Wal-Mart, then Chili's and then Target before we finally got on the road towards the border. Marshalls was another store like the Burlington Coat Factory, but at least they seemed to have nicer stuff. Wal-Mart in the States have much better prices on a bunch of things, namely children's game for $5 or so a piece (Yatzee, Connect 4, etc.). However, with the conversion (from USD to Canadian Dollars) and the taxes, we didn't think it was worth it. The Lindt white chocolate with coconut bar that we were looking for in Wal-Mart was all sold out, so after dinner at Chili's, we stopped by Target to try our luck. As soon as we stepped in to the store we were informed that the store was only open for another 5 minutes (We made it there 5 minutes before 10PM). Thankfully they did have the chocolate bars and we picked up quite a few despite them being more expensive than Wal-Mart. Regardless, these Lindt bars are still better-priced than Canada and this particular kind (the white chocolate with coconut) is not even available here, so the detour to Target was worth it.
We hopped on the car to get home a little bit after 10PM, but was stuck in traffic just before the border for an hour and a half. There were merging lanes and people seemed to be in a rush to get home and didn't want to yield. And it didn't help that the Rainbow Bridge was narrowed to 1 lane on each side due to construction. Despite doing only a hundred dollars or so of damage for each of the 3 of us and being in the second furthest lane, we were instructed by the custom officer to veer a sharp left to go in with the receipts and pay duty. Luckily the officer didn't say anything after he's asked me to pop open the trunk and we got out of there as soon as we could.
While getting back into the car one of us realized that her MasterCard went missing, but we weren't ready to drive all the way back to the restaurant where she has last used it. But all in all it was a fun trip, although I probably wouldn't go again for a while.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I just finished my first massive baking for the holidays and my feet are aching!! I started to work around 9pm - 4 hours and 16 eggs later, we've got 4 cheesecakes, a pan of blondies and a pan of brownies, meringue fingers and a burned and blistered index finger.
Haven't tried the cheesecakes yet, but they sure look prettier than last time. I had used one 9" spring form pan last time and the cake turned out too tall, so this time I split the batter between 2 9" round cake pan which also prevented the problem of soggy cake resulting from water leaking into the cake during baking. I have meant to decorate one for Mom's birthday, but I got distracted with the other stuff in the oven so it will have to wait until tomorrow. One of the mini ones I have reserved for Michelle, and the other for B. I hope they will enjoy it!!
The blondies came out perfect even though it's been a while since I've made them. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with loads of pecans and wonderful butter flavour, this is one of my favorite treats. And it was SO easy to make - melt butter, stir in sugar and vanilla, beat in eggs then add flour and baking powder - viola! It took under 10 minutes to put it together not including the 3o minutes it spends in the oven. As soon as they are all cooled off I will wrap them up for my dear friends - these are always a hit.
Having had numerous complaints of my baking being too sweet, I cut the sugar when I made the brownie batter. However, I must have made a mistake in calculation because I found the brownies not quite sweet enough for my taste. The original recipe called for 4 oz. of unsweetened chocolate and the same amount of semi-sweet chocolate plus 2 cups of sugar, but I had substituted with 6 oz. of unsweetened chocolate + 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate and also cut half a cup of sugar. I should have stuck with the whole 2 cups. Andy thought they were fine, but I am going to fix them up with a little bit of white chocolate drizzle. Plus, they look prettier that way!
Thanks to the handy KitchenAid stand mixer, I attempted to make meringue cookies because I have always wanted to try. It was a breeze to beat egge whites with the stand mixer - I love it!! I piped the meringue into finger length strips using the star tip and they turned out so pretty! It was so delicately light and crunchy that even Mom couldn't stop munching on them. The only trouble is they are so difficult to remove from the cookie sheet - I lined mine with foil as suggested by the recipe but many of them still broke while I was trying to remove them. Not that I minded too much because it gave me an excuse to pop yet another one in my mouth, but I also wanted to have enough to send to my friends. I wonder if I can triple or even quadruple this recipe.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
On Monday we skipped Body Combat because Michelle was gonna head out for wings, so I had the opportunity to play some badminton. Boy, was it intense!! Ususally we go to the session from 8pm to 10pm and because there are so many players and only so many courts, we have to take turns to play. Which means for every 15 minutes or so we would get to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. However, this Monday we went to the session from 6pm to 8pm, and there weren't any line-ups at all! We got to play for 2 hours straight and we didn't even have to share the court half the time. It was awesome and I felt great afterwards, except for the numbing pain in my calves and right shoulder the next morning.
Despite the muscle pains, I went to Zumba on Tuesday evening, thinking I've had enough rest. Plus, I really don't want to miss that class - it's one of the only things I really look forward to during the week (the others being Fridays and every other Thursday when the paycheck comes). I thought if it was too much I can always make it more tame, and if I really couldn't stand it I could leave half-way. Wrong! It was so much fun that I had almost forgotten that my legs were hurting, and only after I got home I had realized that my calves were aching even more!
I half limped to work on Wednesday and had to rely on a couple of advils to last through the rest of the day. The only times I left my desk was to grab some coffee in the morning and for lunch. Otherwise, I stayed put, trying to minimize any actions (like climbing stairs) that might further aggravate my aching calves. But since Michelle has missed Zumba on Tuesday, we had decided to meet up and work out. Really, I should have stayed home. My legs were hurting and I almost wanted to take the elevator to go up to the gym. But I wanted to keep Michelle company, since she hasn't even gone to the gym once this week and our goal was a minimium of twice per week. It wasn't a great workout though - I couldn't warm up before going to the weigh machines because it hurt too much to do the bike nor the treadmill. I could only work on my abs and lower back, and in less than 30 minutes we hit the showers. Sauna was nice though, and definitely helped releasing some stress and relieving the muscle pains. I love to be in the sauna. Especially when it's so cold outside.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
We had some time to kill before Andy got off work so we went shopping on the other side of the Heartland strip - Garage there has a pretty good sale going on!! Prices were already slashed and on top of that all red-tagged items were buy one get one free!! Sizes are quite limited and I had a harder time finding something that might fit, but Michelle who wears size 0 had plenty to choose from. I ended up with 4 tops for less than $20 - what a steal!! I just love finding deals and bargains and all the more when there's someone who shares the excitement!!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tonight we are going to take it easy though - Michelle and I have been quite good this week having done Combat on Monday and Zumba yesterday. We are going to train with machines to build some muscles. No pain, no gain, right? So we will do our best today too!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
We had so much fun last night, Michelle and I, doing Zumba and shopping after. Our Zumba instructor Jewel rocked (like always) and I just loved the music. She pulls off the moves with such ease and style but I always feel like when I try the same moves it must look weird and awkwardly funny. (Think Night at the Roxbury funny.) Towards the end of the class she divided us into two groups and had a street-style dance-off - totally hilarious and absolutely the most outrageous but fun thing I've done in a long time. The only thing I have to quip about is these two ladies who barged in right in front of us after class has started, blocking the view so I had no clue what Jewel was doing up there at the stage, and kept moving back onto us regardless of which direction we were supposed to be moving to. Several times I almost got stepped onto and and made me want to ask them to move up front or switch places. I understand the studio is small and it does get crowded, and I respect that we are all there for a good time and the more the merrier, but what these ladies were doing were just not considerate nor tactful. But otherwise, the class was great and we had a good workout.
After washing up Michelle and I went shopping for a bit - Sears had a Gala with live Christmas music and Pink by Victoria's Secret has opened, and there was a nice promo at La Senza where you get $10 off of a $50 purchase. The lace and frills were nice, but I managed to control myself from buying any because I had just picked up some from the Triumph warehouse sale. Showed my new leather jacket to my bro and now I'm having second thoughts - I really should have picked up something black or brown, and something more fitted. I think I am going to bring this one back and find something more in line with how I had envisioned it to be.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
We stopped by Peninsula Cafe (also at FMP) for a really late lunch. "Trendy Hut" would have been a more appropriate translation of its Chinese namem, but this cafe apparently is operated by the same group as that of Peninsula Cafe (Kennedy and 16th ave.??) and they were probably too lazy to come up with a different English name. The sign boasts the restaurant as a fusion of tastes frin Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. At 2:30 pm the small restuarant was still busy with most tables occupied, but we didn't have to wait to be seated. The green interior is quite trendy and comfy too - with big round cushioned seats around round tables in the middle aisle and roomy booths on either side. The 2 LCD TV's mounted in opposite corners had FairChild TV on, and they weren't loud enough to distract us from chatting. Lunch specials were offered until 3 pm and Afternoon Tea specials were offered from 2:30pm onwards, so we had quite a bit to choose from. After studying the colorful picture-studded menu for a while, we decided on a taiwanese-style fried rice with BBQ-eel and eggs and a tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) served with omu-rice (which is like an omelet filled with fried rice). Each of our dish came with a choice of iced or hot tea or coffee, and both of us ordered iced lemon tea. The service is friendly and the food arrives reasonably quick. The iced tea was just right - not overly sweet nor overly tart. The presentation of our dishes were definitely cute, but their tastes disappointed. The fried rice with BBQ-eel and egg arrived first and I was surprised by the small serving size that's atypical of Chinese cafe (茶餐廳). And the taste was mediocre - the fried rice was quite moist and there were plenty of bits and pieces of BBQ-eel. Yet I can't shake the feeling that something's missing - maybe a topping of nori (seaweed), sesame seed and more BBQ sauce would have helped. The tonkatsu was good - hot and crispy and juicy - but we have had better. The omu-rice looked great but the fried rice filling was bland - it was a moist lump of rice flavored with ketchup and not much else. I will definitely order tonkatsu again, but probably not with the omu-rice. Prices are definitely affordable but not cheap compared to other Chinese cafes. There are several other items on the menu that looked interesting, so if this restaurant is still around maybe we will go again.
After lunch we wandered over to Danier at Woodside Square and ended up spending the afternoon in that store (against B's will) - there was a promo of additional 20% off the lowest ticketed price. Lots of fashionable styles and slashed prices on leather jackets and handbags meant I had a tough decision time. But I have been wanting a leather jacket for over a year now, and it was a good deal, so despite my diminished budget this month (due to the 3 birthdays in the family) I bought myself my first leather jacket. I was aiming for black or brown - something classic that will last years and still won't look out of fashion, but the only thing that caught my eyes was this white bomber. B had a long face and really wanted to sit down rather than going through the racks with me, but he still gave advices and suggestions that were useful. It's quite a bit of money, but I think this is a smart investment - a leather jacket can be dressed up or down and fits pretty much every informal ocassion. I can't wait to show it off!
We had dinner at home with his mom, who made a pot of wonderful soup. (I LOVE soup. I can have soup and only soup everyday and I don't ever get sick of it.) We watched a movie in the evening before he dropped me home, when we realized that we had forgotten about picking up moose. Nevertheless, we had a really good time and I'm so happy and thankful that we're together. :)
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Yesterday we had hot pot to celebrate Dad's birthday (that was my birthday present for him), and we got too full and too sleepy (after all that food and wine) to bake. So this afternoon I had a chance to make another attempt at sponge cake after we came home from lunch. This time around, I made sure the temperature of the oven started and stayed at 350 degrees F as specified by the recipe. But other things had gone wrong: the cake still came out dense and moist - in fact, it's worse than what it was like the first time around. When I took at peek at it (with the oven light of course, because opening the oven door is a definite no-no) the cake looked gorgeous - it rose beautifully. But when I took it out of the oven, the cake has collapsed to half of what it was! And we didn't allow it to cool properly today neither, because B was too eager to eat and couldn't wait until it has properly cooled. Not that it would have made a big difference, because the non-stick pan worked too well again this time and the cake slid right off and landed on its top once I flipped it upside down to cool. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that two of the eggs didn't separate properly so only 8 of the egg whites went in for the beating, instead of the total of 10. And since I had exhausted the egg supply in my fridge with the last attempt we bought more eggs - but these ones were "extra large", rather than just "large", so the proportion of liquids/fats in the batter may have been altered. Now it seems like attempt # 3 is inevitable, and it's just a matter of when B and my family is going to be sick of eating sponge cake.
On a side note, B has complained that I have wrote nothing positive about him in my blog, so here we go: I love you B!!
Friday, November 6, 2009
So yesterday some of us had forgotten to bring lunch and decided to go to Eddie's Wok n' Roll on Millcreek. I was hesistant, having had take-out from there that was somewhat disappointing (the butter chicken tasted like nothing I have had at other more authentic Indian restaurants and the look of the manchurian chicken was greasy enough to turn my stomach). But my dear colleague absolutely adores Eddie's and would have it any day of the week. So when she heard I was feeling like something hot and soupy she thought Eddie's is THE place to go, even though I was craving for something more like phở.
To be honest, when we first walked in, I was pleasantly surprised. It actually looked decent - dimmed lighting, nice big foutain in the waiting area, pretty decorations - it wasn't even half as run-down and dirty as I thought it would be, plus the place was packed. The Lunch Specials menu was very reasonably-priced - starting at $7.50 + tax & tips you get a soup (hot & sour or corn), a mini spring roll and a heaping plate of an entrée. The service was amicable but the waiters all seemed to be in too much of a hurry to hear out any special requests. Nothing on the Lunch Specials menu appealed to me since they were all rice or fried noodles dishes, so I ordered a Tom Yum soup on the regular menu to satisfy my craving for something hot and soupy.
The food arrived real quick, which was great; and piping hot too, which was also great. Alarmingly, the chili chicken adn the manchurian chicken looked exactly the same - an unappetizing dark bown sauce loaded with garlic and big chucks of red hot chili peppers. My colleagues tried to convince me that those two dishes are "so good" and that I should give them a try, but to me these just don't cut it as authentic Chinese food and I'd rather fast than to take one bite of them. The butter chicken another colleague ordered didn't live up to her expectation neither.
My Tom Yum soup arrived last, probably because the restaurant did not anticipate somebody ordering outside of the Lunch Specials Menu. The soup did not come with anything on the side, which I guess is typical in a Chinese restaurant. and it did not come like how I imagined it to be. The color was not as intense as I thought it would be, having had Tom Yum soup at several other Thai restaurants before, and there was no sight (nor smell nor taste) of lemon grass - one ingredient that MAKES the soup. The soup wasn't that good of a deal - for close to $5 (and that's not including tax and tips) it was a 4" rice-bowl full of tofu, with several small pieces of chicken and 2 small, very sad-looking shrimps. The taste wasn't offensive, but nowhere was it close to being impressiong - it's just not what I would consider a good Tom Yum soup.
I would probably go back again since it's only 5 minutes from work, much cheaper than JJ ($10+) and my colleagues think that it's the best "Chinese" food. And maybe next time I should just stick with a lunch special, regardless of how unappealing the dishes sound.
Moose Reviews: KitchenAid Professional HD Stand Mixer
Since it is my Dad's birthday today, Mom decided to make a special dinner for him last night to kick off the celebrations. We had really nice angus roasted beef (yum!) and tri-color three cheese ravioli in a tomato sauce (yum!!), and of course my dad's favorite: pâté. And post-dinner we had a sponge cake that was made using a KitchenAid Professional HD Stand Mixer and Wilton Excellence Non-stick Angel Food Cake Pan in our new oven.
The KichenAid Stand Mixer belongs to a good friend of my mom who is currently in Hong Kong - it went on sale at Costco's while she was in HK, so she asked Mom to pick it up and asked me to test it out for her. So finally there was an occasion and Dad has been talking about sponge cakes so we thought the perfect test project would be it - a sponge cake! The Stand Mixer came in a humongous cardboard box (over my knees and twice as wide as me) and it took awhile to actually take it out of the box. There were several gadgets I had to pull out before I got to the mixer itself - there were an instruction & recipes booklet, an accessory attachments list, a set of 4 measuring/prepping bowls with lids, a digital timer, a dough hook, a wire-whisk and a beater blade. Then it took some more time to set it up and figure out how to fit everything together. And it was BEAUTIFUL! The unit looks gorgeous with its sleek black and silver design. The stainless steel bowl has a rounded bottom - a big plus because I'm so sick of having to scrape the corners in my old mixer's flat bottom bowl. The mixer offers 10 speeds but speed 8 was sufficient for beating egg whites. And all it took was 3 minutes to beat my egg whites stiff and dry - without having sore arms!
The mixer was relatively quiet and very easy to operate. The only thing I can complain about is it got messy when I had to sift the flour mixture onto the batter in several separate additions and the flour got everywhere except into the mixing bowl. It was hideous to have to stop the mixer, lower the bowl, lift the bowl out of the support and ease it out away from the stand so as to have enough space to put in the flour and then remount the bowl, lift it up into place and start the mixing again. But I'm sure that can be remedied by using the pour guard (which you can purchase as an accessory) or simply sifting the flour first and just add it to the batter again (I should have thought of doing that, but then I was following the recipe to the letter...). I also had to catch my recipe a few times because it was blown off the countertop by a mysterious gust of wind when I started the unit. But all in all, I loved it. What usually takes me almost an hour was done in less than half that time. I seriously think the KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer is an indispensible part of the kitchen. My kitchen. And I can forsee me having a hard time parting with it when my mom's friend comes to take it back.
The sponge cake was supposed to go into the oven at 350 degrees F, however, by turning on the convection option our new oven has decided to lower the temperature by 25 degrees - so after the cooking time was up the cake looked beautifully golden but was still a little wet on the inside. I returned the cake into the oven for another 10 minutes and increased the temperature by 25 degrees to the specified 350. The burnt the top a little but it was still brown and thank goodness, not black. And the inside was cooked through - nothing came back up with the skewer stick inserted near the center. So I took the cake out for cooling, as specified in the recipe, and the cake was supposed to be cooled upside down, for at least 4 hours. The Wilton non-stick angel food cake pan was perfect - it had 3 little feets that allowed the pan (along with the cake inside) to stand upside down. The only problem was, because it was a non-stick pan, the cake slid off the pan and came down and out while cake pan remained standing on its feets! So instead of letting it cool, we cut it right away and served it to Dad after singing 2 lines of "Happy Birthday" very quickly.
The flavour was awesome - and not too sweet either, just the way we like, and the texture of the inside of the cake was oh so light and soft - except for spots in the bottom where it's more dense and moist. That probably is a result of under-cooking (due to the lowered temperature) and insufficient cooling (which did not happen at all thanks to the non-stick pan working too well). The denser parts of the cake could be made spongier in texture by pulling and stretching, which was fun, and further proved that had the cake cooled properly, the cake would have turned out perfect. The "skin" of the cake - the layers at the top, the sides and the bottom - was just a little bit overdone and became too dry and chewy for my taste, but somehow Mom really enjoyed it, to the point of eating only that part and leaving the cloud-like middle for Dad and my brother. But then again, Mom has always had an affinity towards crusts - of breadloaves and pizza and so on, so we weren't surprised at all. Afterall, this is only the first attempt, and Dad has already requested another sponge cake to be done. So let's see what happens tonight!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
So remembering my advise to patients and that antibiotic resistence is a real threat, I vowed to be be better today. So far, so good. Let's see what happens tonight!
Well, I am going to take it easy tonight - I've just about had enough today running here and there to get these documents done before the deadline. And I did go to Zumba yesterday- on my own, again - so it's not like I haven't had enough exercise. Maybe I'll go shopping. My dear coworker told me about a Triumph warehouse sale in Oakville this weekend and I'm a big fan. I mean, you can never have too many sexy lingerie, right?
Monday, November 2, 2009
that just goes to show how often I updated my last blog. My last site was a cozy little place called the "CooKiE JaR", where I had posted some tried and true recipes (most of which were for various kinds of cookies) along with some pictures of some of the stuff I've cooked (or rather, baked) including all the birthday cakes I've done for my family up until I got too lazy to update.
Nonetheless, it's "out with the old and in with the new", and I'm no longer known as the cookie monster around here and now B has been affectionately calling me a moose, so I thought it would be appropriate to call my new blog something else: "ooh it's a moose!" Definitely smarter than the "CooKiE JaR: ReDux", right?
My hope is that this new blog will chronicle my ups and downs, my thoughts and my rants, and any other random things that may cross my mind. Mostly the downs because I'm usually too busy enjoying the moment when I'm up there, as B complained rightly that I only complained about him in my last blog. And probably a lot about food because that seems to be what I'm most passionate about, and sweet things to eat are thought of VERY often. So let's see how this one turns out!!
By the way...