Thursday, February 7, 2008

happy chinese new year!

welcome to the year of the rat! may this year brings lots of luck and prosperity to everybody! ^_^

i must admit that i actually forgot that today is chinese new year. for some reason, i thought it would fall on friday. anyway, i just went out to grab some lunch and there's some lion dancers at the city center in oakland. all the noise and festivities reminded me of my childhood time with my family in indonesia.

chinese new year was always a big deal in my family. you'd know that chinese new year is approaching just from the aromatic scent coming out of my mom's kitchen. it's a tradition to give out cookies and cakes to relatives and close friends. since my parents have huge families (twelve siblings on each side), my mom used to start baking weeks in advance. she would start with the traditional cookies: nastar (pineapple tartlets), kue keju (cheese stix), lidah kucing (langues de chat, also known as cat's tongue), then followed with the labor intensive kue lapis legit (tasty layered cake). the last one is the most tedious cake to make that i know of. you essentially need to sit in front of your oven door, because you need to spread the batter one layer at a time, every 2-3 minutes. but the result is oh-so-beautiful and tasty! i will make that cake one day ^_^

anyway, there's just no way that you'd miss chinese new year with all the activities around the house!

my favorite part is always the new year day itself. we would wear our new clothes (usually something red), and sometimes i would even take day off from school so we can all go make our rounds in visiting our families. the grandparents house is always the favorite place to be. that's the final gathering place and everybody - and i mean EVERYBODY - would be there... with their red envelopes!!! and then we usually end the night with a big feast, that typically included chow mein and shark fin soup.

i miss those times. i never really appreciated it back then. but now i'm really missing the big family gathering.

well i'm sure when i have kids and my brothers have kids, we'll have gatherings similar to the ones that i used to have. ^_^

Friday, February 1, 2008

happy baking days are back!

our class has been taken over by another teacher since monday. at first i was a bit nervous and skeptical about having another new teacher. i think a lot of the students in my class were feeling the same way. we had gone through a rough month and a half, and many of us were already thinking about dropping out.

i've heard a lot about this chef instructor even before he was assigned to teach our class. almost all the things i heard about him were positive. however, i decided to go into class on monday without any high expectations. excited, but trying to to get too excited.

when he did his demo, i immediately fell in love! (fell in love with his skill, that is). such an excellent teacher, with such excellent skills! very patient in teaching, yet passionate in the subject matter. he explained everything clearly and thoroughly. he explain every single reaction that's happening in every single step.

the next day, i went to work and one of my coworkers asked me about school (he knew that i was struggling with the previous teacher). then i told him that everything is great now and that i love my new teacher. he was surprised to see me so excited after only one day being taught by this teacher. so he told me to wait a week or two and let him know how i feel then. that's why i didn't post anything on this blog immediately, becoz i wanted to wait and make sure that this chef is as great as he seemed on the first day.

so here i am, three days later.... and i am still as happy and excited as i was on monday!!!

it has been three very happy, joyous baking days! in three days, i've learnt to make an angel food cake, a chocolate-mint torte with chocolate glaze and adorned with 24-karat gold flakes, and last-but-not-least a princess cake. here's a sneak peak of the angel food cake, which i plated with my home-made mango ice cream. (more pics are posted here).

on wednesday, he also did a demo on making chocolate center pieces. such an amazing display to see, yet it only took him about 20 minutes to make one. that's just show how amazing he is.

i am so happy that my happy baking days are back. i am finally looking forward to school again. ^_^