Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pickled Toilets / Homemade Vinegar

A bottle of "Toilet Duck" stands on the top shelf in the toilet. Looking at it each time gives me such a sense of satisfaction. It was the first and last bottle of commercial toilet cleaner I bought in Taiwan. When it was running low, sometime around April / May, I decided to go green with toilet cleaning. I switched to vinegar.

At first I bought the cheapest bottle of vinegar from the supermarket for cleaning the toilets. It was the store brand and cost around TWD 22 for 600ml. Unlike commercial cleaners which are thick and gooey. Vinegar is thin and watery. It simply flows out of the old washing liquid bottle which I re-bottled it in. I know our Ah Yee uses copious amounts each time. I am refilling the bottle quite regularly. My green cleaning was not quite as cost effective as the commercial stuff.

I decided to make vinegar myself. I had made garbage enzyme when I was in Malaysia. I think the 'garbage' eventually became enzyme. My only regret was I did not use it. I poured the whole lot over the garden while packing to move to Taiwan. I remember the alcoholic smell that lingered in the air after that! I didn't want to make garbage enzyme - the recipe calls for sugar. Sugar is expensive in Taiwan.

Garbage Enzyme:
Molasses/Black Sugar : Vegetable/Fruit Dreg : Water = 1:3:10

I goggled homemade vinegar. There are many recipes on the web. Most are recipes for fancy fruit vinegars and gourmet vinegar. I did not care for those. No, I didn't care to eat the vinegar that I was going to make. I wanted to make an ecological cleaner from waste. I wanted to make vinegar from vegetable / fruit dregs and water.
It was on naturemom.com I found a recipe which I could use. I have not been able to get back to the site. She provides recipes for different fruit vinegars like apple cider vinegar. The ingredients are simple - fruit and water left to ferment for 3 month. I can't remember if she mentioned special equipment to prevent air from getting to the vinegar. Again, I wasn't planning to eat my vinegar so I was not fussed.

I made my first bottle at the end of June. The main ingredient was an overripe papaya. I placed the papaya into a bottleful of water. It was an giant size dishwashing liquid bottle. I shook bottle every few days whenever I remembered and let the gas out. A week later, I covered it with a brown bag.

The papaya vinegar should have been ready for use at the end of September. When I opened the bottle, it smelled really alcoholic - papaya booze. I decided to let it ferment another month, since I still had the commercial vinegar. My other vinegar ingredients are leftover rice, organic grape skins (rejected by the kids), overripe banana, vegetables.

I now have a row of fresh milk bottles (I am reusing the bottles in which the fresh milk we buy come in) standing below the air con compressor at the back balcony. I cover them with paper bags to shield from the sun.
Last week, I harvested my papaya vinegar. I poured the liquid into a clean milk bottle. It will be diluted by half or more before use. To simple me, toilet cleaning is not rocket science, it does matter how concentrated the vinegar is as long as it is not corroding the porcelain. There were still papaya pieces in the vinegar which I am saving to make more vinegar.

The verdict: The toilets look clean to me. I did not receive any complaints. Success !

Now that's 2 steps towards more natural living and this could be a fun activity to do with the kiddies.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Chocolate please

It has been raining non stop since Monday thanks to Typhoon Megi and the northeast monsoon. It is downright miserable being cooped up in the condo. I can feel my mood going the direction of the rain - down. This calls for a serious dose of chocolate.

This afternoon we made chocolate cupcakes -  Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcake. Do they taste yummy ? Well, they provided a quick and hot chocolate fix and they are really easy to make. But I wouldn't call them yummy. Maybe it is the inferior cocoa powder from the local baking supplies shop. I did buy the imported stuff (from wonderful Malaysia). And mind you I wasn't being frugal there, the shop only carries have one type ! The next time round, I am going to try melting a good quality chocolate bar instead of using cocoa powder.

They could be prettier I suppose. I haven't learnt to ice cupcakes yet. I have been browsing the recipes. My arteries stiffen in protest of the amount of butter and sugar required. Between the 5 of us, we have to eat the 18 cup cakes I make. In my mind, I am always dividing the amount of butter/sugar in a recipe by 5. 220gm of butter divided by 5 is 44gm of butter per person. I can't bring myself to do that. Plus, I haven't enough confidence in my cakes to distribute them around the neighbourhood.

Since we are on the topic, here are the other pick-me-up goodies from my store cupboard / fridge.

Omochi ice cream

Happiness in a square- dark chocolate

There's always Kit Kat

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Sunday, 17 October 2010

One Will Stand, One Will Fall

A few weeks back, BK bought Ew 3 Transformer robots.

Ew's idea of Transformers up to the point of that moment was limited to "Transform and Roll out" which is our instruction for setting up the stroller and pushing it along. After reading that, you should be getting the idea that BK got those robots for himself. (Not the first time either if you consider his track record - 2 remote control cars, the model air plane).

Ew was intrigued to say the least. Never mind that those three were not part of the Autobots management team. He loves anything with wheels and mechanics. Here were 3 toys which looked like cars but hey ! you could manipulate them and turn them into robots. He has some ideas about robots from his books.

And so it began - he started noticing other Transformers in the toy store - the fine looking truck called Optimus Prime, the very attractive yellow robot called Bumblebee. It didn't take long for him to learn that Optimus was the leader and the nasty robot was Megatron. Ew was in love ! His mother did not approve of his choice while his father shrugged and secretly thought about the Transformer he was getting for Christmas.

I know, you must be thinking that I am a stick in the mud. We do have a policy of non-violence in our house. No guns, no swords, no fighting, no violent TV eh.. make that not much of any TV. The first time a boy took an imaginary shot at Ew in the playground, Ew had no idea what hit him. With his interest in Transformers, his parents got creative.

Ew:  "Daddy, why is Optimus Prime holding a knife ? "
(Note: We have no idea how this came about. Does Optimus Prime have a sword ?)
BK:  "Er..."
Adelyn looks at BK. The message is clear, although she doesn't say anything "Fix it. You started it."
BK:  "Optimus Prime loves apples. He needs something to help his peel and cut the fruits. "
Adelyn : "Touche Daddy."

My husband is the creative one. Every night for 6 months, he told "Muniandy the Tractor" stories. With a motley crew of vehicles that rally around him - Nunu the small tractor, Amu the tow truck, human friends and animals, Muniandy embarked on different adventures each night. Our hero is now a multimillionaire who owns an amusement park, farms, banana cake factories. Now, "Muniandy the Multimillionaire Tractor" makes the occasional guest appearance on the currently running "Fireman Ew" stories. Both series have been temporarily suspended due to audience demand for "Transformer" stories.

For the past week, BK wove stories of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Mudflap and Skip guarding apple orchards, sharing fruits and saving crops from the evil Megatron. Ew drank it all up, in awe of these great robots who "Transform and Roll out" to orchards.

Lately, my sweet little boy is into "bashing people into bits" not knowing exactly what it means. I have no idea where he gets it from. I know it is not from TV. I am relieved it is not from TV. I can only theorize that it is a natural development for him as his testosterone levels peak.

Am I sorry that he thinks Optimus Prime is some kind of Johnny Appleseed ? No. I stick to my principles of non-violence. What comes naturally to him will come. I will continue to deny my children any catalyst for violence and hatred. There plenty of that when they go out into the world. What the world lacks is love and gentleness - that I will make sure they get it at home.

Ew: "Mummy, Daddy says that Optimus Prime said "One Will Stand and One Will Fall".
Adelyn: "What's that?"
Ew: "That means one apple will be standing and the other on its side"
Adelyn: "Hmmm...interesting"

I love the man who came up with that.

This One is for the Sisters

Before you read on, I am telling you upfront that this post is about cotton menstrual pads and periods.
I am truly excited to share my positive experience with washable, reusable cotton menstrual pads with the hope that you will be inspired to give them a go. In case, you don't plan to read on, here's my conclusion.

1) The cottons pads are superbly comfortable
2) I did not experience any leaks and staining of bedsheets / panties
3) They are easy to wash & dry - with the right handling
4) With a simple and not inconvenient life style change, I am protecting mother earth

I got my supply of pads from Nice Cloth Diaper, an online store that sells cloth diapers, cotton menstrual pads and natural home products. I got to know Sin Dee who runs the store a few years back when I started cloth diapering. I am inspired by Sin Dee and her life.  My word for Sin Dee is "passionate" (that wasn't the first word that came to my mind when I met her). But now, that's my word for her - passionate about life, the environment, spirituality, her girls, her products. There is something about Sin Dee that is beyond what I can describe - it's a quiet spiritual quality, a fine balance she sets between the worldly and the spiritual. Well, enough about Sin Dee for now. This is getting too "Eat Pray Love".

The cotton pads come in a variety of designs and sizes - just like the disposables. Sizes include 1) panty liners 2) regular 3) long and wide. They all have 'wings' cause that's what holds them in place on the panty. There is a tiny button (a press start?) at the bottom of the wing. Each pad comes with a towel insert. You have the option of increasing the absorbency by adding your own inserts e.g. a thicker towel.

When shopping, I was drawn to a very pretty print called 'Butterfly'. I could very well imagine how the 'Butterfly' will looks like with tomato ketchup. But I couldn't resist. I rationalized that I would be the only person to see the soiled 'Butterfly', so I threw caution to the wind. Anyway, the 'Butterfly' was not available in the numbers I wanted and Sin Dee recommended 'Microfibre' (another design). My current favorite is Microfibre. Strong stomach or not, save the pretty white prints for something that you wear on the outside.

Microfibre and Butterfly

I made sure I got enough pads to discontinue using disposables at my very next period. I was determined to go cold turkey.  This is my algorithm to determine how many to get - (maximum number of pads needed on a heavy day x 2) + 1 spare. I opted to 'regular' for day use and 'long and wide' for night.

When I got the stocks, I  was really excited. The "Butterfly" is really pretty :). And for the first time since, my first period, I looked forward to getting my period. Whoo whoo!

Of course, I had apprehensions about the whole thing. You will too. But I found my fears to be unfounded.
Firstly, would the pad would stay in place? With the disposables, there is a strip of glue which runs from end to end. With the cotton pad, it's the wings hugging the panty in the middle. Nothing at either end of the pad. I found myself checking the position throughout the day but the wings held on well.

The thought of washing soiled pads freaked me out. I was determined to find a system where the actually scrubbing I had to do was minimal. And here it is. I got a rubbish bin with a lid and filled it about half full of water. With each change of pad, I removed the soiled insert and threw both the pad and insert into the bin. With enough water in the bin, the stains diffused out of the inserts and pads in a few hours. Diffusion happens when molecules move from an area of high concentration to an area of lower concentration. Minimal scrubbing -  I simply rubbed some soap on each item and rinsed it out.

Keep in here after use

Like the cloth diapers, if it is changed while one is out and about, you will need to prepare a bag to carry it home in. There are some nice wet bags available that will do the trick. I saw some in Daiso for about USD1. The neat thing about the pads are they fold into a small square which is held in place by the wings and button. This makes them very portable.

Neat !

The pads and towels dried quickly. On some days, when I washed them at night, they were dried by the next morning. I still maintain that it is better to have enough supplies for at least 2 days. Now that I know that I will be continuing this, I will probably get more so that I can be more relaxed about washing.

I love my washable, reusable cotton menstrual pads. My glad rags make me glad that I have taken another step in the direction of a more natural life that serves me and the environment. You could too !

Have Car will Travel - Part 1

Last weekend, we got ourselves 4 wheels in the form of a Toyota Camry 2.0. It was our little experiment to see if BK could drive on 'the other' side of the road, if we could navigate our way around Taipei & Taipei ++, and most importantly the impact of a car on our life in Taipei.

During our past year in Taipei, we moved around on public transport - mainly taxis, the Metro, train and well, we did go on the bus once just for fun. As we zipped around Taipei in the back seat of a clean and comfortable taxi, we would agree that not having a car is such a relief - no need to worry about parking / service & maintenance / depreciation etc. etc. BK would even joke that we should club him on the head should he talk about buying a car. Occasionally, we would shake our heads at the manic driver or lament a stinky cab but being chauffeured around felt good for a while. Lately, the lamenting became more frequent as we seemed to have become a magnet for crazy drivers and displeasing cars. Also repeating the instructions to our condo for the millionth time was becoming a chore.

So, on a lovely Saturday morning, we took the two very excited kids to pick up our wheels of independence.

Our first stop on  ID (Independence Day) 1, was RT Mart for our weekly grocery shopping. Never mind, we were there later than usual and the best fish was taken. We were on a high from our new found freedom. We shopped at leisure because we did not need to rush on to one of the nearby restaurants to get a place for lunch. We did a sushi take away and brought our food back home to eat in comfort. Man ! It was actually fun to remember where we parked and push our shopping trolley to our car.

That same evening, we drove to Danshui - a seaside town. We had been to Danshui before by MRT. It took us about 40 mins, 2 train changes and jostling with dozens of strangers all with the same idea for a sunny weekend. This time, we sat in the comfort of our own car and the estimated time for the journey was 25 minutes according to the GPS. We soon found that estimated time of arrival a moving target as we, in the tradition of all travellers, got lost. That was also when the first of our challenges with the GPS became apparent - I call it "what's in a name"

"What's in a name" is a two prong problem - first, the inconsistencies of spelling a Chinese name in English. Is it Min Quan or Min Chuan ? The GPS spelt it 'Min Cyuan' ! Secondly, what in the world is "Danshuihanshunamxi" ? We had to know the exact name of a location as used within the GPS system. To cut a long story short, we didn't see the Danshui Lover's Bridge that night.

This is what we missed !
All was not lost, we took the GPS out of the car that night and looked up our destination for the next day. But I didn't get too far in my preparations as the GPS ran out of battery really soon ! Grrrrr....

ID 2 - Fulong Beach / the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area

We packed and we packed and we packed loads of stuff for our day trip to Fulong Beach. YES ! for a change we were going out in out own car and really we could pack that boot to the brim with every item of our whim and fancy -the whole basketful of snacks including Kit Kat, the huge 2L Thermos,  that extra pair of slipper, the just in case t-shirt but no, no let's not take the umbrella :) And yes take the milk powder but forget the milk bottles, dear.

We loved the drive to Fulong Beach although it poured. We passed many promising places such as Juifen which we said we will be back to explore. The sight of the sea was thrilling. We were dying to stop and take in the view. With the maestro of  a navigator, the GPS and a stroke of luck, we chose Bitan Recreational Area. A stroke of luck - cause we had no idea what was there and it was good AND we left just as the 3 bus loads of Chinese tourist pulled in.

It costs 50 yuan to enter the Bitan Recreational Area to park your car. You get a parking coupon which shows you a pretty picture of the lighthouse at Bitan on a sunny day. Ah ! The potential of what we could have seen and done. We borrowed an umbrella and took our basketful of snacks down to one of the food court tables. Well, maybe food court is not the right word - there were 4 stalls selling almost identical cooked food and 2 peddling various items including Alleluia ! umbrellas.

Armed with our newly bought umbrella, we took turns walking in the rain to see the grey green waves crash recklessly on the rocks. Daredevil fishermen clad in protective rain gear, stood on the rocks, bravely casting their lines. Fishing must be good in this parts - cause there were lots of them, braving the rain and waves, casting away. There were also little crabs clamouring all over the rocks.

The sights in the food court were equally enthralling. The 4 identical food stalls were selling various seafood. Fried mackerel seems popular. I saw a man buy a fried fish in a little paper bag. He held it by the bag and tore of chunks of fish like it was a fried drumstick. A family in the next table ordered a plate of huge prawns, starchy seafood soup, seaweed soup and check this out - mackerel soup. Mackerel soup was a clear broth with the mackerel - cut in two sitting in it. The first thing the father did was to scoop our an eyeball and shout " Who wants an eyeball?". The 2 kids both shouted "Me!" and he said "Well, one eye each" and proceeded to distribute the delicacy fairly. Hmmm...

The map of the area reminded us again of what we could be doing instead of watching people eat. And no, we didn't feel too inspired to eat the same. My kids are not eyeball eaters.

We continued our wet journey. As soon as the drops stopped, we made a stop. The name that appeared on the road signs was "Aodi" / "Audi". We stopped out of a need to show the kids something. Something happened to be 'sotong boats'.

Ew complained about the smell of the sea and covered his nose. He was more keen to jump into the puddles. Ae was crazy about being allowed on the ground (we didn't take her shoes out of the car in Bitan), we had to restrain her from running off the edge of the pier.

Another short drive and we arrived at our destination - Fulong Beach. We had seen Janet frolicking on Fulong Beach on Fun Taiwan. Fulong Beach is the site of the Sand Sculpture Festival. What Janet forgot to mention is you have to pay to get in. The entrance fee for an adult is 90 yuan. For a child of 3, 10 yuan. For a toddler - free.

Pay and the troll let's you across the bridge to the beach
The kids had a blast. It drizzled but we didn't have the heart to keep them away from the sea or the sand.
When the rain got heavier, we retreated under a tent and continued our digging. Finally, it was the dark clouds threatening more rain that sent us heading home.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

"You can't make him read or write, but you can make him not want to"

You may have noticed that I have been listing "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" as a book that we are reading in our house for the past few weeks. We have been borrowing it from the Taipei Public Library continuously week after week. I guess no one else out in Taipei city is as compelled to get their child to read as I am.

How's the book ? I LOVE IT !!!! It's logical. It's structured. It's numbered. It's objective. And according to the book I should have Ew reading by Dec 2010. Excellent ! Just what I needed.

Then I hit a snag - despite the dangling carrots - Thomas the Train pencil, Shinkansen eraser, Doremon 8 coloured pen - Ew HATES IT ! The only part he likes are the stories in the later chapters. Stories which he supposedly will be able to read when he reaches Chapter XX.

For weeks I was tormented. We had started off on a good note. He loved the Thomas pencil, the train note book. We progressed remarkably well through 'm', 's', 'a', 'e'. Then at Lesson 3 or 4, came the " I don't want to do lessons", the yawning, "I'm tired", "I don't like rhyming". I was patient - ah ! so very very patient. But I guess the impatience showed cause I am really not good at hiding my feelings. It shows on my face.

Did I give up ? No.

I put on my trainer hat and made it fun. I made a magic wand. I thought : We'll say the words fast when I wave the magic wand. We'll say it slow when we roll the ball/truck slow. It will be such fun!  I dropped rhyming and writing. I re-did the lessons on coloured cards (the book is black and white, minimal pictures and most unappealing). I drew pictures and use words that appeal to him like 'fire', 'fireman', 'rabbit', 'rake'. IT WAS NOT FUN ! HE STILL WANTED TO RUN !

Yesterday, we hit the lowest low. I threatened to go to the post box without him if he had not traced the 'm' and 'a's. (Yes, in hindsight I am really sorry I did that. Give me a break ! I am learning too.)

I scoured the homeschooling pages last night looking for a solution / an approach / whatever I could find. I found unschooling. I read about the natural child.

Today, I realize that the lessons we were doing is my big lesson. I am taking a year off work to be with my children. Being very achievement oriented (that's what I am - that's why I make a really good corporate employee), I want to make it 'worthwhile'. I need something to show at the end of it that said, "I gave it 101%". Sure, I learnt to cook loads of different things. I made things. I had fun with my kids. But I thought those things did not stand up to scrutiny of the public. Hmm...or is the word 'public' a cover for my egoistic self ?

I wised up today. No more lessons. From today onwards, I am going to stop scanning life for schoolish stuff. I will have fun with my kids. I will offer them opportunities to see, hear, touch, feel, move. If anyone wants to dwell further on it, we will. If not, we will move to the next thing.

And I will give myself the same opportunities.

PS - we made a windmill out of paper today :)

Friday, 3 September 2010

Toadally Yours

I am compelled to share more about our froggy friends. Remember the tadpoles we rescued from the drying ponds ? I counted 80 ! We have them living out of a motley of containers on our balcony. The smallest yogurt cup is the sick bay. Those found to be unwell - in my humble opinion i.e. looking lethargic, floating on their backs / sides, are isolated to recuperate lest their siblings turn carnivorous on them. I am proud to say  our recovery rate is 100%.
Froggy living quarters
I must also share that we lost 10+ for unknown reasons. Their little bodies were found floating belly up. It was heart-wrenching for me to fish them out and discard them. I did the former and got the resident undertaker to lay them to rest. He did - in the toilet bowl!

On a happier note, 31 Aug 2010 was Hari Merdeka for 21 of our froggy friends. That morning, before the rains from the tropical storm Namtheun hit, we took them back to the park where we found them. Getting them there was a challenge. To the bewilderment of my mother in law, I threw a terry cloth diaper over the basin, tied it in place with a rope and marched the kids out of the house with the basin of frogs under one arm. We released our wards on a pile of rotting leaves under some trees. I hope they enjoyed the day long drizzle (it would have kept their skins nice and moist) and I trust they have found lovely new homes.

My sentimental son was sad to see them go. He has been putting his hand in the basin trying to get the frogs to jump onto his hand. He wants a t-shirt that says "I keep frogs".

Saying good bye

Tomorrow, another 15 should be ready to go. Come to think of it, I would like a t-shirt too.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

My Daily Bread

Two weeks back, I tweaked my usual bread recipe and came up with this one. I like it so much that I have been making it each time we run out of bread. This is not fancy baking. We make this every 3-4 days at our house. Here is the recipe:

  • 1.5 cups of water

  • 2 cups of bread flour

  • 1.5 cups of wholewheat flour

  • 2 tbsp black strap molasses (BSM)*

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp oil

  • 2 tsp instant yeast

  • 1 tsp flaxseed

  • anything else you may fancy e.g. raisins, sunflower seeds
I put the lot of ingredients into the breadmaker and run a 'dough' cycle. Then transfer it to an oiled bread tin and let it rise for 60 minutes. Punch down. Let it rise for 40 - 60 minutes. Bake at 180C with a bowl of hot water. I have found that having a bowl of water in the oven makes a moist loaf.

The tweak*
I found a bottle of organic BSM left over from a liver detox which we did a few years back. It smelled & tasted ok, so I decided to use it in place of sugar in my bread. The aroma is heavenly and it imparts flavour without adding sweetness. Perfect for the kids who prefer sweet breads but minus the sugar. If I remember rightly, BSM is a good source of iron.

This is my daily bread. The beauty of the recipe lies in the simplicity. It is versatile, you can add anything you like. For weeks, we had raisin and cinnamon, then apricot, almonds. Today, its BSM and sunflower seeds.
I am going to have a slice for supper.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Lemonade 25 cents?

I find it hard to resist lemons. Who can when they are going at 25 yuan (around USD 0.75) for 9 ? I inadvertently leave the supermarket with lemons. I suspect my mother is of the same nature. She doesn't stop me. Frankly, I am not surprised because she is the one with the lemon tree on her balcony 10+ floors high up in the air.

There we were this morning with 9 lemons - 2 decaying, a couple yellowing but the rest still holding on and my mother in the background grumbling about having to throw them out.  (In case you are wondering, the local lemons are green). What do you do when your mother throws you lemons ? You have lots of fun !

Ew and I did our homeschooling lesson on lemons / lemonade.

Lesson : "How to make lemonade?"
First, we grated zest. Lovely, zingy zest that could go into a cake or muffins or add piquance to roast chicken.
Ew: "Can I smell it, mummy ?".
A: "Of course"
Ew: "Hmmmm. Eat some. can I ?"
A: "Er, sure - if you really want to. It doesn't taste... Well, try it."

This is kinesthetic learning at its best. Learning with all your senses. Learning when you're relaxed, having fun. I resisted the urge to control, to be frugal cause I really don't enjoy grating lemon zest that much and I have plans for the lovely zest.

Next, Ew tried to peel the skin off his lemon. He bashed it around for a while. I gave him a plastic knife which he grabbed with glee. The mutilated fruit is stabbed several times. I quickly added a tea towel under the chopping board. Yes, I expect such lessons to be messy but I am going to be smart about it. The mess has to be easy to clean.

I started rolling the other lemons around and execute a couple of bashes of my own. This gets the juice going. It is true. When I cut into the fruits the juice squirted out. Ew never got round to cutting his lemon. He bit into it instead and sucked whatever juice he got.

The fun fizzled out a little at this point. He had cut his finger earlier with the plastic knife and the juice was stinging the wound.  Ew expressed a need for cream. We stopped to wash his hand and apply some cream. He sat watching me, playing with pips. We had a jam jar full of lemon juice (for later use) and half a bowl for our lemonade. (If we don't get around to using the juice, we'll make ice cubes out of it. Great for when you need lemon juice but don't have lemons.)

Summary of lesson:
Lemonade = water + honey + lemon juice

Ae woke up from her nap at that point. She was hot and grouchy. Nothing a little lemonade won't fix. Soon, we were all drinking fresh lemonade from our cups. Everyone was smiling.

Ew: "Mummy, this is so fresh. Let's do it again tomorrow."

Ae: "Sumor (some more) Mummy"

Lemonade 25 cents ? No, lemonade priceless.

We had Lemon Drizzle Cake for tea. Yes, it's a cracked at the top. But heck, it tastes good. Like I said earlier, I find it hard to resist lemons.

Recipe from BBC GoodFood

We ate it while it was still warm

PS - the rest of the fruit went to my vinegar making. That's another blog for another day.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Sweet Potato & Rosemary Buns

Hot buns fresh out of the oven

We had these buns with homemade burgers, grilled pineapple, cucumber slices and wasabi mayo.

Recipe from The Fresh Loaf.

I used a lonely sweet potato that was lying in the kitchen for weeks. The bread maker did the kneading. I humbly admit that it does a much better job than me. But as you can tell from the irregular shapes which I find rather endearing, I shaped the buns and dusted Italian herbs on it for a more attactive appearance.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Little Frogs

They're on their way!
Today, we released 3 of our little frogs into the school vegetable garden. It all started a few weeks ago, with 'the Jackson 8' - 8 tadpoles from a dirty puddle in the school playground. Jackson for my son's favorite frog in 'The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse' by Beatrix Potter. 'The Jackson 6' cannibalized 2 and 1 simply didn't live long enough to see froghood.

The surviving Jacksons are one of the few lucky tadpoles of their time. The summer heat dried up all puddles and ponds in the neighborhood. While their peers battled for survival, the Jacksons enjoyed the morning sun in the front balcony and rested in the cool shade of the washing area in the afternoon. Their diet consisted of boiled, chopped, frozen lettuce. Fresh water was delivered regularly.

In return, they shared the wonders of metamorphosis.

Our new lot of babies