Well it’s not a secret, but it’s not something I get to discuss at length. I super love videogames. I love it so much I once made concept art for a game I had an idea for. (Also something you didn’t know about me, I love to draw!) When I was in high school, I played a ton of RPGs on the Playstation 2. Ahhh memories… The downside to RPGs is that it takes time and dedication to finish, and if you’re a perfectionist like me, you try to finish all the side-quests (eg. Finding all 101 Dalmatians in all the Kingdom Hearts games) and unlock all the bonuses, which takes more time of course. Time– it’s something I no longer have much of these days. The real world kind of sucks that way.
Anyway, I wouldn’t be a proper videogame nerd if I didn’t love Super Mario. It’s one of the most iconic games in the history of videogames. One of my favourite ways to play a Mario game is through the Wii. Ever since the Wii was invented, the Mario-verse hasn’t been the same. It’s become even better! As in make-a-cupcake-as-a-tribute-to-Super-Mario-awesomeness better!
Coming across this recipe was pure luck. I knew I wasn’t going to settle for a simple vanilla cupcake and top it with red frosting; it didn’t feel very Mario. So when I saw this Japanese cheesecake recipe, I knew it was “the one”.
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Did I really just write that title? I’m sorry.
So I finally managed to track down some matcha powder some weeks ago, and unfortunately it’s not the sort I’m looking for. It seems like a really mild type of matcha. From what I’ve been seeing in photos, the concentrated one has a greener hue; and from what I’ve been reading, it has a stronger taste. I can barely taste my matcha in this bread. No, scratch that– I can only taste the matcha if I concentrate really really hard. If I close my eyes and really try to unlock my tastebuds, I can taste the wonderful green tea notes with a hint of sweetness at the end. Unfortunately it lasts only a few seconds, not to mention I look kind of odd doing that at the table.
And yes I’m pretty sure it’s not just my imagination.
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Every year in our house, we follow the Hokkien way of celebrating Chinese New Year. My grandmother, or Ah-ma as we call her, was born and raised in Fujian, China so she is incredibly traditional, and even after 50 years of living abroad, all she knows is how to speak Hokkien. My grandmother is 92 years old now and although she doesn’t look it, she’s become rather forgetful of dates, so my Mother has taken over with the Chinese New Year preparations. It’s not really about being Buddhist as much as it is about being Chinese that we still continue celebrating the Lunar New Year in the way that we saw Ah-ma do it. We have the burning of gold paper, and prayers using incense. There is the never-absent offerings of a feast and wine at the altar. But my favourite is this giant colourful bowl of grain and things which I like to call ‘The Melting Pot of Prosperity‘.
The Chinese are big on symbolism, and in every province in China, they have their own unique symbols for every Chinese occasion. Here’s the one I grew up with, which I assume originated from Fujian. The Chinese culture is so rich it’s kind of hard to keep track of these things.
According to my Ah-ma, we set up these bowls for several days all over the house to help attract good feng shui for the year. The grain stands for year-round abundance in food, and the green onions stand for growth in business or in the home (as with the coins stuck on the grains, which is like money growing out of the ground). The cut-out figures with the rose plus the yam tied with the red ribbon represent family unity and a blooming relationship. The orange, the bread, and the colourful decorative ornament stand for objects that invite luck and opportunities into one’s life. The meanings may vary for each household, but one thing is for sure: all the elements in this bowl represent aspects in life the Chinese consider as most important, such as family, wealth, luck, and prosperity.
It’s kind of overwhelming sometimes how seemingly mundane objects can have so much meaning. Something easier for me to understand though is the food that usually comes connected with the Lunar New Year: glutinous rice cakes locally known as tikoy, pineapple tarts (and actual pineapples), huat ke, and the list goes on and on. I made these super yummy pineapple tarts last year, and this year I had a craving for peanut cookies.
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I remember the times when my Mother would occasionally take me to church after school, back when I was a little girl. Around Christmas season, there would be these stalls on the churchyard selling the lovely yellow bibingka and the purple puto bumbong, these Filipino pastries that were baked using traditional bamboo and ceramic cooking tools, and banana leaves. I used to think that this was the only right way for these Christmas staples to be made. They were the very measure of authenticity for bibingkas and puto bumbongs These days however, we’ve got a slew of commercialised bibingka stalls in the malls, plus instant box-mixes I’ve always been hesitant to try. It still feels weird to me to see these things in the mall because none of it feels right to me. I guess there are moments when I can be a bit old-fashioned.
If you’re wondering where I’ve been this past week, I’ve been in the hospital. I got sick with the dengue fever and had to be confined for seven unfortunate days in the hospital, four of which were spent fighting off recurring high fevers. It was my first time being hospitalised and I hope I never have to go back for many many many years to come. I find it ironic how I never get seriously sick ever and the one time that I do it lands me in the hospital. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but I’m thankful to be home now.
Today I’m going to share with you what I feel is one of the best things that ever came out of my oven: the ensaymada. I’ve made a handful of bread since I started blogging, and most of them have been good bread. However none of them have made me feel this particular way. The moment I saw how perfect these ensaymadas looked fresh out of the oven, I began gushing over them like I have never gushed over bread before. I was excited, giddy, but most of all, I was proud. I was proud of myself because this felt like an accomplishment. I was proud of myself for choosing and succeeding in making something truly close to home. For all the foreign breads I’ve made and loved, this one definitely takes a special spot in my heart. Continue reading for the recipe
I’ve talked about comfort food before, but lately I’ve realised that nearly nothing else can comfort me in the same manner as this simple little porridge can. We call this Filipino breakfast staple the champorado, and it’s basically a chocolate rice porridge, served with milk. Tell me which part of that doesn’t sound comforting– not to mention delicious?
There’s just something so homey about eating mushy warm food from a bowl. I know it sounds a little icky when I put it that way, but these kinds of food oddly make my soul feel at ease. That’s why most of what I consider my comfort foods share this particular characteristic (except maybe ice cream which can also be mushy but is cold). The champorado is one of my top comfort foods at the moment for reasons I can’t describe. Perhaps my love for chocolate plays a role in it? Ironically, I didn’t use to care much for champorado so thank goodness tastes, people, and circumstances change with the passage of time. I don’t really need to find an explanation for why I suddenly find myself loving this, but all I know is: Champorado has the power to turn my mood around, and that’s all I care about. Continue reading for the recipe