Cinnamon Rolls To Die For

As you know, I got hooked on Pinterest recently. It’s been such a visual heaven that it’s hard resisting. And the fact that I can pin stuff using the iPad just makes it….errr…a lot easier to get lost in other people’s boards. It’s a bit like voyeurism. You get to sneak a peek (actually many peeks) at other people’s boards and get excited, pinning things into your own boards.
I try to limit myself to some surfing at night at Pinterest, just so, you know, I could check out what’s new out there.
Of course, like curation, unless someone takes the effort to curate new stuff, old stuff gets pinned and curated far too often and end up on everyone’s boards.
OK, enough griping.
Now what I DO like about Pinterest is that I get to check out some really new recipes.
I have two things I am quite partial to (but have very little time for) but I am hoping to change that this year. This year, I have decided that I shall spend more time doing things that feed and indulge my little Tiger soul.
I don’t know about you but I like doing things with my hands. I like making crafty stuff (here’s something I told Ai Lee just the other week – I learnt how to crochet when I was 11 because I was too penniless to buy my Sailor Barbie nicer, prettier Oscar de la Renta dresses!) and I like cooking.
Recently I’m into bread-making too thanks to my Lebensstill (god, how  do you spell that anyway?) bread machine which I didn’t even had to buy. The initial plan was to get a smallish bread machine so that I could feel like a domesticate – adding baking to my repertoire of skills. I wanted to get a Tesco branded one but Nic has this thing against Tesco products, calling them cheap and awful. So THAT idea got scrapped. Finally I decided to look at my CIMB Redemption Booklet and what do you know, a Lebensstill bread machine smiled back at me!
I had enough (actually more than enough) points to redeem for the bread machine. So that’s how I’ve been making bread.

The Lebensstill bread machine
The Lebensstill bread machine

So Pinterest with a plethora of recipes and you know how recipes just beckon when they’re so damn visually exciting right? I got this cinnamon roll recipe off someone’s board and have been wanting to try it out because I am mad about cinnamon rolls. The combination of cinnamon and sugar and butter is too heady to contemplate.
I managed to make them just last night – my first time making them anyway but what a success! I could do a little jig here because I am sure anyone who has tried a new recipe for the first time has heart palpitations. What if the recipe turned out awful? Would I have to eat the stuff still? Or throw it out? And knowing that you spent a good amount of time and money on it, you’d be like me – disappointed!
I made this using the bread machine – it is really useful because it has a Dough setting that helps you slowly but surely combine all the sticky and wet ingredients into a proper lump of dough. (I even use the Dough setting to mix up my pumpkin man-tou – saves me a lot of time and prevents me from getting sticky dough on my hands).
The downside is, the Dough setting takes 1.5 hours to complete. The good thing is, you just put all the ingredients in and let the machine beat away for 1.5 hours. You can go read, watch TV, take a nap.
Cinnamon Rolls Recipe (makes 10 rolls)
Into your bread machine bowl, add ingredients in this order:
70 ml water + 100 ml UHT milk
280gm bread flour
15 gm (1 tbsp) milk powder
60 gm castor sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Program your machine to DOUGH setting.  About 5 minutes of vigorous mixing, add in 50 gm of butter.
After the dough’s nicely combined (and the machine beeps to a stop), take it out, put it into a tupperware (with a lid) and let it rest in the fridge, overnight. So you can do this around 8pm and by 10pm, your dough should be happily snug in the fridge. Remember to grease the tupperware to make the dough easier to tilt out tomorrow.
Cinnamon rolls in the making
Pardon the mess, I work like a fiend with flour!

This morning, I took it out and let it rest while I went and showered. Then I tilted out the dough, a very pillow-y soft dough, and divided it into 2 portions (easier to handle). I sprinkled more bread flour onto my rolling pin and started rolling it out like a longish sheet.
Then I dabbed pats of butter on to the flattened dough, sprinkled a good amount of brown sugar and ground cinnamon powder and of course, raisins. Then roll up the entire thing, cut them into little rolls and place them into a greased tray. At this stage, you need to let them rest and double up in size which takes about 45 minutes. (Do the same with the rest of the dough.)
Cinnamon rolls waiting to expand
Cinnamon rolls waiting to expand

About 20 minutes into this, you must start heating up your oven. I use 180C most of the time. Once the rolls have doubled, glaze them with beaten egg and pop them into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Cinnamon rolls nicely risen after 45 minutes
Cinnamon rolls nicely risen after 45 minutes

If baking bread makes me swoon, then baking cinnamon rolls makes me swoon even more. The smells are delicious when they’re baking – so this is just another yummy reason to start making them now.
I’m a complete baking novice and my cinnamon rolls turned out excellent.

Nothing like your own cinnamon rolls!
Nothing like your own cinnamon rolls!

Cool them for an hour and then dig in! The rolls are soft and fluffy (and nary a bread tenderizer or bread improver in sight!).
Fresh from the oven, cinnamon rolls!
Fresh from the oven, cinnamon rolls!

Try this recipe and let me know how YOURS turned out!

The Kechara Salad

I came across this recipe in my Flavours magazine sometime ago.

easy Asian style salad from Kechara
easy Asian style salad from Kechara

It sounded like a really great way to use purple (or is it called red) cabbage – I love purple coloured fruits and vegetables but I’ve never ever entertained the idea of stirfrying purple cabbage. It would certainly look quite weird!
So this Kechara salad was superbly simple and needed just a few ingredients – most of these you can find in your kitchen.
It’s not the heavy sort of Western salad (with creamy dressing). In fact this dressing will pique your taste buds. I figured it could be served as an appetizer or even with your heavier meat and sausage dishes as it cuts down the “jelak” factor due to its tangy-ness.
First, you need a cup of all these three vegetables:

  • shredded purple cabbage
  • shredded carrot
  • shredded lettuce or romaine

Put all of these into a large stainless steel mixing bowl.
Into another bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of Lee Kum Kee Plum Sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar. Combine well.  Pour this dressing over your gorgeous tri-coloured vegetables.
Just before serving, toss in a handful of roasted peanuts.
Top with roasted seaweed (the kind you find as a snack in supermarkets) – use scissors to cut into smaller pieces.
Serve immediately.
It’s the perfect salad for days when you’re sick and tired of those mayo-thousand-island salads but want something refreshing to tickle and uplift your palate. The plum sauce and lemon juice just give the salad this amazing Asian taste which goes very well with heavier stuff like pork sausages or roast chicken.
If you are wondering why it’s called the Kechara salad, this recipe originated from the kind folks over at Kechara, a Buddhist organization in KL, which is run superbly like a good business. They own a vegetarian restaurant called Kechara Oasis too. They do a host of interesting things from publishing to dining.

What Women Really Want

You just can’t escape it.
Whether you’re doing it or not, you will be bombarded with Valentine’s Day messages, greetings and “what you are doing to celebrate this occasion with your dearly beloved?”
And yes, it is happening tomorrow. And yes, despite protests from PAS about why celebrating this is bad for the people of the Muslim faith and etc., young people will still celebrate it so stop being so naggy will you? If they haven’t realized it yet, the more older people try to “advise” (seen as “nagging”), the more young people WILL NOT follow. After all, weren’t we all young and rebellious once? (The funniest piece I heard was if you must go on a romantic date, have a chaperon! Oh dear god. If a date has a chaperon, it’s not a date. It’s a Jom Heboh Carnival event complete with free balloons!)
Anyway, it’s one thing to look forward to when I was a young thing but it’s totally different thing when I’ve been married for 10 years.
A number of my gal pals who are married don’t think much about celebrating St Valentine’s – I mean, with the kids and all, it’ll be a logistical nightmare just trying to get the kids to the mom-in-law’s and getting a reservation at a romantic restaurant. Plus in Penang, parking can be just as frustrating!
As with most festivities in Malaysia, we love celebrating with food. Be it a CNY reunion dinner or Valentine’s or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, it’s really a fleece party when you decide to join the masses.
It isn’t really romantic when you’re jostling for romance in a restaurant that consists of 30 other couples right?
And men (read husbands, fiance, boyfriends, soon-to-be boyfriends) often get worried that if they don’t do something special for their women, they will not hear the end of it.
So pity them fellas. If they have understanding partners, it’s fine but yes, there are some women who clearly love to be feted and romanced on 14 February. Perhaps they have a reason for this.
But here’s what I think women really want – we want Attention from our mates/spouses/boyfriends more than the bling-bling, the roses, the gifts, the perfume, the gadgets.
We want men to listen to us when we speak. Not the puppy-eyes sort of listening but deep listening.
We want men to know when a woman needs help or a hug and offer what’s appropriate.
We want men to give a hand when the household chores are overwhelming and we just don’t want to spend our Saturdays and Sundays just cleaning or mopping or ironing.
We want men to still hold our hands when we go for a quiet walk or hold our hands when we’re watching a movie in the cinema.
We want men to tell us if our cooking’s good because that represents gratitude and attention and that will make any cook happy.
We want men to surprise us with a kind and gentle word when we’re discouraged and need it most.
Of course it won’t be fair to expect these of our men if we women do not do the same for our men. Most good husbands and boyfriends are humans too – they are sensitive just like us. They deserve praise when they do a good job and they need a hug or even a little time out when they are down. (I found that knowing your spouse’s love language does a great job of fulfilling their needs. If you want to know more, take the love language assessment. While you’re there, you can also assess yourself and what your love language is. I found it quite helpful knowing myself at a deeper level. Actually you can read more about your own love language – there are five – and find out which ones are the ones you identify strongly with.)
Unlike us with our sisterhood (women are mostly relational and we often have a great support system of good gal pals to talk to), men may find it hard to open up to another man. Men may bottle emotions up inside and even have a hard time describing what it is they feel.
So guys, stop thinking in terms of material gifts if you’re really out of ideas. (I said out of ideas, I don’t mean cheap or stingy.)
The best gift you can give to the woman in your life is the gift of Attention because every woman, whether she is 19 or 90, would love feeling special and loved.
Dress up the Attention and shower her with this every day of the year.
That would really make a great Valentine’s.

Why My Mom Has A Hard Time Getting What I Do

Just the other day when I was happily driving my mom and sisters and nephew and niece about (I think it was a stupendously sultry afternoon), my mom asked me a question.
“Do you have work tomorrow?”
I believed the next day was a holiday or something like that.
You see, my mom is in her early 60s.
She speaks English, used to be our stay-at-home mom (in the days when most moms were stay at home moms and when a woman didn’t flinch to be called a Housewife but nooooo, these days it’s so impolite, we must use Homemaker!) and cooked and cleaned and washed for us. Basically she stayed at home while Dad, the English teacher, went out to work.
My mom worked briefly as a clerk before she married my dad and even then, my mom married very early – she was 22 when she got married and 24 when I was born.
The working world, to her, seemed rather alien.
She knows people go to work at prescribed periods in a day. Like Dad used to have lunch then zip off to teach from 1pm to 6.30pm, Mondays to Fridays. From time to time, he had to do things like invigilation. Most of the time, he had weekends to rest.
That is why explaining to her what I do (or rather what Nic and I do with our people in the office) seems difficult.
“Mom, I work regardless of where I am. I could be in the office but even when I’m not in the office, I’m still working. As long as I have my Wifi connection and my Fujitsu laptop, I am working.”
I think she couldn’t imagine what I was saying to her.
It helped that my sister, the One Is Who Constantly Hooked To The Net (Facebook most likely and blasts out statuses to the world like cryptic clues), reiterated that yes, these days, it doesn’t matter where we are, we work most of the time.
Turning to my mom, she said, “She doesn’t need to be in her office to work.”
And still, it didn’t help Mom understand what we really do.
(Sometimes Mom calls me up to chat and asks, “Are you in the office?” I could tell her that I’m not and that I’m at home (working) but it wouldn’t make sense to her. Office to her means work. If I’m at home, it means I am not working.)
For I started thinking.
Our world must be so strange to our parents who are in their 60s and 70s (my Dad’s approaching 70 this June). He only goes online when he wants my sister to show him the Da Ma Cai results. Mom almost never does because again, my sister’s netbook, tablet and other devices are just too confusing and scary to touch.
I remembered once many years ago when I tried to show her how to use my sister’s old PC. I wanted her to know that the online world could be quite exciting (and that she could access her favourite feng shui predictions online).
I told her to hold the mouse and use it and she turned to me and said, “One click or two clicks?”
I was floored. I never even stopped to think about how many clicks. That was such an eye-opener to me. I realized we take so many things for granted. In a newbie’s hands, even clicks (or using the scroll function) was a new experience and she was unsure how to go about it.
Even until today, Nic’s parents have a hard time digesting the idea that we could be back in quiet Kuching and still be engaged in work! All we needed was our devices (which these days seem to grow!) and a Wifi connection.
The kinds of work our parents and parents-in-law understood were the types where you had fixed hours (like 8 to 5). You worked five days, or even in some cases five and half days. On Saturdays and Sundays, you rested. In those days, you couldn’t do work even if you wanted to (from home) as all your resources were in the office!
The seamlessness of our lives and work these days can be frightening to our parents. They see us staring intently at our computers, wonder what’s up and see us punching the keyboard and sometimes we do this all day long.
“Are they really working?”
Even when my sister is on leave, she’s still reading and settling company stuff via emails.
Even when my other sister is on CNY break, she’s still online, checking up on her blogshop and reviewing customer orders.
Even when my friend is down with the flu, she’s still conferencing with her bosses halfway round the world from home.
Even when we’re all away from our desks, we’re still working.
If I could only tell them that not only are we working and doing transactions, we’re also connecting with friends all around the world.
We’re also working more hours than before (which explains why I take a complete weekend sabbath from my beloved Fujitsu and why you won’t see me online on weekends if I can help it).
We’re also talking to people all over the world with just a click of a button and chat with old buddies and see their faces too.
Technology has freed us to work from anywhere we choose but it has also chained us to working anywhere we choose. That’s the paradox of our times.
Now that’s a hard one to explain to Mom.