Cock-a-doodle-dooooo!

Although I have never seen the neighbourhood cockerel, he seems to know when to crow at the precise time daily. I was awoken by his crow at exactly 8 am. I know it would be a rather late wake up call for those who have to get up to rush to work, but hey, it’s my holiday and I didn’t mind the 8 o’clock morning call one bit.

With the heatwave the past 3 days, it finally rained at St-Rémy-de-Provence. With a mild stroke of mistral, it was nice sleeping through the night without the fan on for once. The rain and wind cooled down the temperature giving way to gloomier skies. I didn’t mind a bit because it was our stay-at-home day.

Home-working

I shouldn’t be doing that during my vacation but I had to do it as there were some unfinished tasks that needed to be completed. I was working in the living room but the table was too low, so I had to improvise by stacking enough books to elevate my laptop. It was not the most comfortable position to work, but it was a temporary solution …

Spagbol

While working at my laptop, I was juggling my task in the kitchen. Remember I had to rush down the aisles with the shopping trolley at Intermarché because we were short on time on a Sunday morning?

<< Flashback

It was 11.39 am. We headed straight for Intermarché, not realising that it was closed at 12 noon. We were dilly-dallying along the aisles browsing through some stuffs, until an agitated looking duty manager rushed us for time. If only you could see how I flung the shopping trolley down each aisle, grabbing items while picturing spagbol in my mind! Okay, I believed I had everything, or did I??!!

>> Fast Forward

Oh kay! Home-cooked Spagbol for lunch it was!

And by the way, I did forget the grated cheese! Ah well, we didn’t miss it as it’s not THE main ingredient in the making of spagbol. 😉

A Visitor

The spagbol went down very well, so much so we had a “visitor” at our door that afternoon. He must have sniffed the bolognese sauce from afar and walked his way to the front yard. He reminded me of The Littlest Hobo.

And then he left the compound in a mysterious way …You know what? He’ll come back for sure because he had just given us the signal “this is my territory and I’ll be back!

We shall see …

Cheers !

Have you heard of Sel de mer La Baleine or Le Saunier de Camargue?

When we had one of our lunches in Arles, Le Saunier de Camargue was seen placed liberally on every table alongside a bottle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Mind you, this sea salt is not some cheap table salt. It’s one of the finest, produced in Camargue, or more specifically, on the salt marshes in Salin-de-Giraud, situated just next to the River Rhône. By the way, Sel de mer La Baleine and Le Saunier de Camargue are the salt brands from the production of sea salt at Salin-de-Giraud.

And that’s where we’re headed to.

Our GPS navigated a distance of 98km from La Maison Blanche with an ETA at 1.05 pm (ca 1.5 hours).

Last year, I bought some 2 kg of Le Saunier de Camargue. It was good to be back to actually visit the less known side of Camargue, id est, visiting the salt marshes or salt flats of Salin-de-Giraud. ‘Salin‘ is saline in English meaning a solution of salt in water.

When Blue becomes Red

The normally blue water turns red under high salt concentration, thus making the blood red water landscape phenomenally striking. Nothing we have seen before.

Curiosity killed the cat. We had to get closer to the bloody water pan.

If you are wondering, actually the red or pink colour of the salt flats is due to the presence ~ in large quantities ~ of microscopic algae (Dunaliella Salina), rich in beta carotene and antioxidant activity. Got this info from the instruction board, here below 😉

It is, however, unclear how often the phenomenon occurs, but we’re lucky to have experienced the most picturesque sight where salt has been the lifeblood of the region for years!

Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer

The temperature was at its highest at 38C! We left the salt pan of Salin-de-Giraud at 1.30 pm to Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer. It’s interesting to discover that the town is named after three Marys (Mary of Clopas, Mary Salome and Mary Magdalene), who were said to have arrived there by sea.

It was also at Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer, that Vincent Van Gogh made several paintings of the seascape and town, the famous one being the Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer in June 1888.

With the scorching sun above our heads, we found the best place to shelter and take comfort at Bistro La Mama Sita. Being so close to the sea, the seafood salad was spot on. And so was the entrecôte of bull steak. It was a huge portion, especially so when the bulls have the predominant presence in the Camargue! Hubby had the famous local specialty dish of Camargue called La Gardiane de Taureau (slow-cooked Camargue bull stew) served with Camargue rice. I must say all the dishes we ordered were mouth-wateringly sublime.

With all the dishes we had consumed in such hot weather, we made a short stroll along the Promenade Charles de Gaulle.

The beach was packed with very tanned looking locals and holiday-makers. We felt out of place and at the same time, I could feel the blazing heat penetrating my skin, so we left Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer. The boys were looking forward to taking a dip in the pool back at La Maison Blanche .

While I walked around the house taking snapshots of what became a chronicled narrative of our Summer getaway in the Provence 🙂

A Blessed Sunday!

Cheers!

We had a good night sleep despite the heat (36C). It must be because we were dead tired from the super lengthy journey under the blazing heat of the Provençal Summer.

Sunday, 6th August

We were looking forward to the most unique annual Floating Market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which takes place for only one day on the 1st Sunday of August! We wouldn’t miss it for the world because we missed that last year as we had special friends over at our holiday home that day. You can read the post here.

So we got up early in order to catch the supposedly unique and spectacular floating market on time. After all, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is dubbed as the Venice of France and we came this far not to miss the eye-catching event. I was super thrilled!

By the way, it was drizzling that morning, hence, it was a welcoming feeling. The cooler breeze was an excellent change from the blistering heat the day before.

We reached L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue at 10am. The morning Market went in full swing… BUT where’s the Floating Market ???!!! Nothing’s floated while everything’s grounded!

Wasn’t 6th August, 2017 the first Sunday of August ?? We were conned!! Darn!

The market was the normal weekly Sunday morning market so typical of the Provence.

What a shame… No Floating Market. No spectacular nego chins but just this lonely vacant boat berthing on one of the water canals.

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

We did not stay long at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue as it was a Sunday and our pantry at La Maison Blanche was as bare as stone.

It was 11.39 am. We headed straight for Intermarché, not realising that it was closed at 12 noon. We were dilly-dallying along the aisles browsing through some stuffs, until an agitated looking duty manager rushed us for time. If only you could see how I flung the shopping trolley down each aisle, grabbing items while picturing spagbol in my mind! Okay, I believed I had everything, or did I??!!

We drove back to La Maison Blanche and hurriedly filled the kitchen pantry and the fridge before stepping out of the house again.

4 Rumbling Tummies

We had not had any decent food since we arrived the day before, hence, we were in dire need of FOOD!

It was 1.15 pm and hubby wanted to bring us to Le Bistro La Galine, which was not far from La Maison Blanche. Hubby had good memories of a fab meal there when he and his brother and our older son went there in 2014 while our younger son and I went to Rome when my Mum and older sis came to visit us that year.

But…. alas! Le Bistro La Galine was closed on Sundays!!

Our tummies! Our poor rumbling tummies! I told hubby that we should drive to the centre of St-Rémy-de-Provence as chances are high that the restos are opened on a Sunday. Fingers crossed to that!

Phew! What luck! A few cafés and brasseries were still in business at that hour. It was 2 pm and Brasserie de L’industrie at Boulevard Mirabeau saved our bellies!

I had a superb meal of pavé de thon (grilled tuna) with sautéed carrot, courgette, aubergine and tomato and some rice. The boys had a hearty men’s meal of hamburger with fries. Ironically, our dessert was îles flottantes (Floating islands)!!!!

The service was fast, precise and friendly. The dishes were simple but superb, and the price tag was correct. What could I say more? Bullseye!

Happy Weekend!

Cheers!

Hey folks! I’m back!! My blog has been in comatose status for quite a while, I know. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, most unfortunately 😦

By the way, this is a scheduled post 😉

Friday, 4th August

Hubby, my boys and I were counting down the days to our annual Summer hols! We were to leave on Saturday. I wish I could say TGIF, but it’s still a workday for me. I told my colleagues that I had to urgently WFH that day due to too many last minute activities. Besides my office workload, I had made an appointment with my bank to pick up my new Silver Credit Card. The old one was expiring soon.

Good thing I had pre-packed my clothes the evening before. I was hoping for less stress, unlike last year! You can read it all here 🙂

I had to take care of the foods, drinks, snacks and our lunch boxes for our impending lengthy journey of ca 1k km. Travelling super light was not possible as there’re 4 of us, all grown ups. My hubby’s car boot was packed to the gills!

Like last year, I asked hubby what our ETD was going to be. He replied, “when everyone feels like waking up

That made me even more nervous as I hate being late or being caught in a traffic jam!

Okay, our ETD strategy changed completely, which, surprisingly, worked a charm! You’ll find out why …

No waking up time was mentioned. No ETD was broached. No alarm was set. All we needed to do was to sleep through the night and woke up according to the inherent timing of our biological clock!

By the way, I was awaken by my biological clock at 5.20 am. The guys were still in deep sleep. So yes, I was the first one to get up, as usual 🙂

Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain …

How could this happen? We’re in the midst of the Summer season and it’s raining cats and dogs! We have never left for our Summer hols on a rainy day. Anyway, the sounds of the raindrops were hypnotic and relaxing at the same time. But what a damper to having to drive on an extremely wet day. Now I understood why hubby said to wake up when we felt like waking up. We have all gone through our deep, light and REM sleep cycles, and we were all completely awake. Cool!

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, here we come … AGAIN!!!!!

With a total distance of almost 1k km, our ETA was 3.55 pm. We left at 6.47 am.

Rain, rain go away, come again another day! The combination of the soothing heavy rain on the highway with the monotonous sound of the windscreen wiper were amazingly mesmeric. Everyone was as quiet as a church mouse in the car which was a perfect mode for hubby to traverse the wet and dreary roads of the Belgian highway with full focus.

When we finally reached Luxembourg for gasoline, the skies were a lot bluer but cloudy.

We know we have reached France when the inescapable sign “péage” (toll) is posted on the French “autoroutes“. Good thing we have the BIP&GO pass which is an electronic toll payment badge that allows us to travel on the entire French motorway network. It is the most convenient way to travel on the European Motorway, meaning as our car approached the tolls, the barrier will automatically lift, without us having to stop and pay at the toll booth. Shorter queues and a time saver!! We need only to pay at the end of our trip(s) where direct debit payments are made at the end of the month.

The cloudy skies made way for clear blue skies and suddenly we felt a ray of sunshine.

And then the voice from the GPS chanted, “There are traffic disruptions on the route. An alternative route cannot be recommended.”

Oh-oh! Time to have a break before being trapped in the gridlocks from Valence to Montelimar to Orange. Yup, we know the Black Saturday drill by heart 😉

We stopped just a bit after Lyon at 10 am for brunch and left the highway rest area at 11 am with the soaring temperature at 35C. With such heat, every single car leaving the rest area was given cold and refreshing Volvic fruit juice water. Precisely what we needed!

And so we were caught in the traffic jam for more than 2 hours under the scorching sun of 39C!

Finally the last leg of the traffic jam ended at 6 pm. Our ETA shifted too. We finally arrived at Saint-Rémy-de Provence. The familiar avenue of trees so typical of that region was a welcoming sight.

We reached La Maison Blanche at 7.11 pm and sweated buckets with the mercury level of 36C!! I quickly checked the temperature at home and it was only 17C! Wow! What a difference, eh? We didn’t feel like going out with the heat that evening, so the guys ended up dipping themselves in the swimming pool while I had a cold shower. I remembered La Maison Blanche, as it was not the first time we were there. It was my second stay there and the third for hubby and our older son.

The house has not changed since my last stay there in 2012 (you can read the post here). Just that we have become 5 years older 😦

What’s in store for us the next days were memories that would remain pristine in our psyche. And I wonder what’s coming up next? Stay with me in my new adventure to the unknown …

See ya …

Cheers!

A normal Saturday lunch in my household is usually a quick and hassle-free one, using available ingredients in my kitchen larder, fridge and freezer.

Last Saturday, however, my fridge was unusually, bare. I had a few stalks of spring onions, with parts of the greens turning brown, two small carrots, a green chilli and 8 small witloofs (Belgian endives) that I bought the previous week or two. Okay, veg was taken care of. Now, the protein. I walked down the basement where the freezer stands under the stairs. I started rummaging the compartments of the freezer for any interesting proteins that caught my eye.

Bingo!

I found not one, but two!! ‘Hidden’ somewhere in one of the freezer compartments, were 2 packets of prawns; one, with shells intact, and another, without. That was a gem of a find, I must say. I must have bought excess packets of prawns when I had friends over for a Laksa feast not too long ago.


Nope, I was not going to make Laksa again, so I had to put on my thinking cap. The first thing that came to my mind was curried prawns, but that would be too boring as I have cooked that on several occasions. Furthermore, I was missing some vital ingredients, so definitely no curry prawns 🙂

The Books That Saved My Day

As a matter of fact, I did not have to look far at all. In March, I had placed orders for 2 Thermomix Cookbooks. I had wanted to order more books, but due to the exorbitant shipping costs from Asia to Europe, I had to weigh my priorities. I contacted the “Suppliers” who immediately sent snapshots of the Table of Contents of a few Cookbooks. I was in love with 2 of the Cookbooks! “I just got to have them!” . Some friends wanted to know why I needed to buy the Cookbooks when I can already cook most of the Malaysian dishes. Erm …. Some dishes typical to West Malaysians are only starting to gain popularity in Sarawak and Sabah. When I was a kid growing up in Kuching, chwee kueh, pan mee, otak-otak, pulut tai tai, lo mai gai, lu rou fan, etc were unheard of. I grew up eating dishes I knew best : kolo mee, midin, mani chai, kueh chap, umai, kompia, kampua mee, Sarawak laksa, manok pansoh, terung dayak, ka chang ma, belacan beehoon, teh C special, linut, tomato kway teow, tumpik, kek lapis Sarawak … Well, I am pretty certain these dishes were unknown to our West Malaysian friends a decade or two ago, too. When I had my first taste of pan mee and chwee kueh in Belgium some 3 years ago, prepared by a friend who hails from KL, I could not get enough of those dishes, id est, if I’m craving for them, I’ve got to cook them myself. Likewise, after a long and hard day at work, I get home feeling like a ton of bricks raining on me. Then I would need something quick, fresh and nourishing and the pre-defined steps in the TM Cookbook is an absolute blessing. 

When the Cookbooks arrived in April (different delivery dates), I was over the moon. I have tried a few of the dishes already from both books. Last Saturday, I picked out one dish from each Cookbook. With two 500g-packet of frozen prawns ready to be consumed, I went straight to the Seafood section of the Cookbooks for some inspiration.

There were a few prawn dishes in the Cookbooks, but those 2 recipes caught my attention. I had all the ingredients, or almost! They are ridiculously simple to make, but will they taste ridiculously awesome?

Let’s find out …

From the Daily Asian Cookbook (DAC), I chose Crispy Stir Fried Prawns, pg 69


From Annie Xavier’s TM Cooks, You Relax (vol 1), I chose Tamarind Prawn, pg 54


The Battle of the Prawns. Bring ‘em on …!!

The DAC came with a cook chip, which made cooking a breeze. For the Crispy Stir Fried Prawns, I used the prawns with shells intact (without heads, though). I thawed both packs of prawns until it’s manageable to de-vein the shelled ones. The peeled prawns were all clean and good to go.

By the way, I followed the recipe from the DAC to a tee,


And here’s the result …


For the Tamarind Prawns, I had to modify Annie’s recipe a bit as her recipe calls for 250g prawns with shells and heads intact, while I had a 500g–pack of peeled and de-veined prawns. I did not double the other ingredients either, as I know doubling the measurement of sugar, for instance would result in a way-too-sweet dish, which will not be appetizing at all. I used dark brown sugar, by the way. I also used the sweet type of dark soy sauce, hence, I had to adjust the taste as I went along.  On the other hand, I used concentrated cooking tamarind  while balancing the sweet and sour flavor that I really wanted in the end.


And here’s the result, although not as dark as Annie’s version.

I garnished the prawns with some left-over spring onions and one thinly sliced green chillies.

My Verdict?

I followed both recipes using almost exactly the same ingredients with small modifications to the quantity according to desired taste. My family loves seafood, hence, serving prawns to them was not an issue. 

Now the taste test. I steamed Jasmine rice to go with the prawn dishes. I also cooked Belgian endives with carrot using the DAC recipe for Stir-fried cabbage with carrot.

After some munching, there was total silence….

I asked the guys which prawn dish was their favourite.

This?


Or this?


Annie’s tamarind prawn has a darker colour. I’m guessing that she used the saltier version of dark soy sauce. I did not have that soy sauce. Instead, I used the Thai version of dark soy sauce, which is similar to the Indonesian kicap manis. In order not to end up with an overly sweet dish, I had to adjust the amount of the soy sauce. My dish ended up quite saucy which went well with the plain steamed rice, so no complaints there. I also like my dish with a bit of heat, hence, the garnishing of the green chillies was Da Bomb!

The dishes were placed next to each other on the dining table. Like holding a pair of L-shaped metal dowsing rod, both my boys pointed their fingers in opposite direction to the platters infront of them at the same time, meaning, the guys had absolutely no preference to dish A or dish B. 

Both dishes were equally scrumptious. One was sweet and sour. I added green chillies to unite the trinity of flavours as well as for colour. At first I thought 12 garlic cloves were a lot for 250 g prawns (see, it’s not possible to double the quantity of garlic with my 500 g prawns! Important is to use your intuition and creativity), but I’m certain Annie knows what she’s talking about. We absolutely LOVE the garlicky taste, which was not too overpowering as the garlics were crushed/ bruised and not finely chopped.  After all, the dish is called Tamarind Prawns and not Garlic Prawns 😉

The other dish was lightly savoury with a hint of heat coming from the dried chillies.  The guided cooking for the crispy stir fried prawns was spot on where taste, timing and texture were concerned. Maybe next time, I will increase the quantity of dried chillies 🙂 

Guess what? I have bookmarked both the recipes and have classified them as “Tried and Tested” 

 

Blessed Pentecost!

Cheers!

Fruit for Thought

What would you do if you have too much aubergine, bell pepper and tomato in your fridge? I had a bountiful of each waiting eagerly for me to consume them, as it had been almost a week since I bought the fruits. Yes, scientifically speaking aubergines, capsicums, courgettes and tomatoes are FRUITS and not vegetables, because they have seeds! I was planning to make a quick one-dish meal one weekend. First off, I was thinking of making ratatouille, but that would be too boring. Furthermore, I live with 3 carnivores and a no-meat dish would not entice them at all.

So I scurried to a nearby supermarket and bought 2 extra ingredients. Chicken and grated cheese.

I knew I would come up with a winning dish *wink

This!

Mmmm….does this not look tasty and festive at the same time?

A Frugal Regal Meal

I love the colours and more so, knowing how healthy the dish was, plus how economical I could put all the ingredients together for a top notch meal. Gosh, I may sound somewhat cocky, but I can’t help it, because it’s true *wink



I have adapted only some of the steps from the Thermomix BCB, while the rest are pure common sense, guestimation and creative thinking 😉

Ingredients A

  • Aubergines or egg plants, halved lengthwise 
  • Capsicums or bell peppers, halved

Ingredient B

  • 600 g water

Ingredients C

  • 550 g chicken breasts, diced

Ingredients D

  • 30 g shallots
  • 10 g garlic 

Ingredient E

  • 10 g EVOO

Ingredients F

  • 10 g fresh herbs (mint, basil, spring onion, etc)
  • 1 tsp dried herb (thyme)
  • 1 heap tsp homemade vegetable stock paste
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • 150 g tomato, de-seeded 

Ingredient G

  • 100 g bread (grate in dry TM bowl at 7 sec/ sp 10)

Ingredient H

  • Grated cheese

Method


  1. Arrange A in Varoma dish and tray with cut-side down. Place B in TM bowl. Steam A as per instruction in the BCB. Remove water from the TM bowl. Using a tsp or Tbsp, scoop out the pulp of the aubergines. Chop roughly. Set aside.
  2. Add D in mixing bowl. Blend for 3 sec/ sp 5.5. Add E and sauté for 3 mins/ 100 C/ sp 2
  3. Place the chopped pulp of the aubergines, C, F and G. Cook for 15 mins/ 120C/ R/ spoon. Season to taste.
  4. Fill the shells with the cooked stuffing, cut-side up on a baking tray. Drizzle H liberally on each stuffed shell.
  5. Bake at pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 mins or until the cheese has melted and turned a lovely golden brown.


This dish goes very well with baked new potatoes or potato wedges. Makes one awesome complete meal 😀


My Verdict?

To be honest, my other half does not like to consume store-bought ground meat. He says there’s too much fat and other-god-knows-what things mixed in the meat. I agreed with him on that, so I made this healthier version of stuffed aubergines and bell peppers. He could not believe I home-ground the meat in my thermie 😉

By the way, this was not the first time I made this dish. I have used store-bought ground meat before and they tasted great, too. The fact that I used lean chicken breast meat and home-ground them, made the whole dish lighter and healthier. Hubby was euphoric over the dish. And my boys? They eat anything that aren’t sloppy looking and with meat. Lol!

The best thing about this dish is, you can use almost any fruit or vegetable that you can scoop out the flesh to make a cavity. Courgettes or zucchinis are great. So are squashes, but the steaming and baking time need to be adjusted.

Will I make this again? You bet! Over and over again. Anytime, because …. It’s cheap. It’s tasty. It’s colourful. It’s healthy. It’s easy!

Have a fruitful mid-week!
Cheers!

I was completely engrossed in the third of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, when my 13 year old son (K) reached out for my right hand and tucked a pen between my fingers. He was trying to get my attention away from the book, but I was unreservedly enthralled by the adventure of Daniel Sempere and Fermín Romero de Torres that I hadn’t the clue that my boy got me to leave my signature on a piece of paper he had been holding all the time.

That evening, while preparing for dinner, K came up to me, and here’s our conversation …

K: Mama, so finally we are going to Japan!

Me: Huh? What are you talking about? When?

K: Ha ha … you promised to bring me to Japan.

Me: Say what? I never promised anything …

K (with a cheeky grin): Too late, Mama….you just did; this afternoon while you were so buried in your book. See, here …

He showed me a small piece of paper which was neatly handwritten with a sworn statement or an oath, swearing my promise to bring him to Japan for a holiday. My jaw dropped and my eyes goggled reading the troth with my signature on it, dated 1st May, 2014. I wanted to take the paper from his hand and ripped it off and thrashed it but he was too swift for me. He has the signed oath carefully hidden under lock and key to this day!

All things Japanese

K loves Sushi, all kinds of Sushi (and ramen). When he had his braces removed in July 2014, the first thing he requested was ~ yes ~ Sushi!! What else??

And here’s his portion! For a 13-year old, that’s one BIG portion and he walloped all 36 maki-zushi or nori-maki + uramaki + nigiri-zushi!!

Sakura Restaurant, Leuven

 

Kuching 2015

It doesn’t matter in which continent we are headed to, this young lad would sniff his way to a Sushi bar or resto anywhere in the vicinity. 

Sakae Sushi, Kuching, Sarawak

Summer 2016

When Pokémon Go was initially released in some countries in July 2016, K was adamant to download the App on his smartphone asap. His summer hols last year saw him so carried away with the new game craze and, boy was I glad that it was over in August during our annual family Summer Hols in the Provence in South France. I asked him why he was not ‘catching’ his Pokémons anymore. He said the holiday home we stayed in, sucked. The internet connection was so bad, ie almost no wifi and the place we stayed was rather deserted with no ‘active’ or ‘new’ Pokémons to catch. And so the game faded to oblivion, sooner than expected, much to his parents’ relief. Whew!

This was the photo he took in Carpentras, South France, to remind himself of the game that came and went …

Hand-painted boulder of Pikachu, Carpentras, South France



Christmas 2016

When my younger sister came to visit us recently, she spent Christmas and New Year with us. My boys have always been very thrilled to have their youngest Aunt around. For K, that would mean visiting places of interests and doing things out of the norm. Yup, we went to Paris for 5 days! Christmas Markets are BIG in Paris, especially along the mega long Avenue des Champs-Élysées, however, it was the Christmas Market near the Eiffel Tower that bewitched K!

Christmas Market near the Eiffel Tower, Paris


While sipping the warm Parisian Glühwein (vin chaud) and munching hot roasted chestnuts and admiring the magnificent wrought iron lattice tower from near; yes, very, very near, K was captivated by one of the booths a few steps down. The open booth was manned by one person, who seemed to be an Artist, but he was no ordinary Artist or Painter. He drew names and translated them from Roman to either Japanese or Korean. 
Guess what K chose to have his name translated into? 

No marks for guessing. Japanese…. Of course!!


By the way, the ideographic meaning of K’s name is translated to mean, Good Health and Happiness. The picture is now framed and hanged in his room next to his bed. As for his mother, she’s hoping that each morning, her son wakes up to the rising sun and the spring bird singing to good health and happiness 🙂

February 2017

K turned 16 on the last day of Feb this year. He had also been invited to a Sweet Sixteen celebration of friends who became 16 in January. When his turn came, he hinted on a small do. For me, a special cake for a 16-year old should do the trick.

Now, what cake should I order for my 16-year old?

K likes to construct things. His legos kept from yesteryears are being used at the max during school holidays. The most recent construction was a sweets or candy vending machine. I thought that was one of his coolest constructions. He made a slot machine type lego construction making sure that only the size (and weight) of a 2 Euro coin could vend a sweet or candy out from the ‘machine’ he made. And seriously? It worked! Anything less than 2 Euro would not ‘spit out’ any candy. So you can tell he’s thinking BIG, monetarily speaking, too! 😉

Hmmmm… I thought a Lego Cake would be a fantastic idea!

Looking for the person to make the cake was not a problem. He’s a colleague (CP) who works in the same building as I. Last year, CP was nominated and won the vote to represent our Region at our Company’s Got Talent Show. He’s a self-taught (hobby) baker who learns his tips and tricks of cake baking and decorating from watching the YouTube Channels. 

I lunched out with CP one lunch break and asked if he was willing to take my offer. It was the early week of February and we still had time until the actual birthday on 28th Feb. I discussed if it was possible for him to make a Lego Cake for a 16 year old. No probs, he said

A few days later, I kinda changed my mind about the lego theme and thought of a Book Cake. Why? Because K does not like reading and a Book Cake was a subtle message to him. To make it a more special book, I was thinking of getting 2 edible images (made from wafer) of him when he was a baby and one of him, now, hence at ages 0 and 16. I was quite excited about the idea but I thought it was rather selfish of me not to ask the birthday boy what he actually wanted. After all, it’s his birthday and not mine. BUT, I wanted it to be a surprise …

Again, my mind went back to the Lego Cake. Lego? Book? Humph! What’s it going to be??? Help!!

The calendar days went by one by one and I had not even finalized the theme of the cake to CP. The theme is important for him to check if he has sufficient inventory to come up with the final result, otherwise, he needs time to shop for the items

On the other hand, February was also a busy month for both CP and I at work due to the Budget and I was not sure if there was going to be a cake at all

That would be very sad, indeed … 😦

The Clock Ticked …

3 weekends in February had passed by. Still no concrete decision made. 

Then I told myself, “If I can’t decide this myself, the best help line is the person who knows best” And that person happened to be the Birthday Boy himself. 

On the evening of 22nd Feb, I asked K if there was going to be a cake for his birthday, would a Lego Cake be his thing. He said, “ No way! That’s too childish.” Er ….. okay. The Lego Cake theme was scrapped. I did not even bring up the Book Cake theme when he mumbled something about Japan!

Okey Dokey! Got it! Why didn’t I think of it at first ??? I was probably focusing too much on his past and what I want him to do, rather than what he wants. 

And by the way, I had the answer all the while. K wants to go to Japan! So of course, it has got to be something Japan-related.

And here it was! The best Sushi Cake (minus the chopsticks) for a mighty happy 16-year old. Happy 16th Birthday, K!


K wanted chocolate cake and he got the most scrumptious chocolate cake. Your wish is my command, my boy, but only for this time. The magic wand would not work after 28th Feb 😉



The nori-maki and nigiri-zushi nesting on top of the cake were filled with cake pops, cut from the bumped topside of the main cake, hence, there was no wastage at all. CP did a fantastic job in skillfully molding the icing fondants to a 3-D cake with nori-makis and nigiri-zushi’s complete with wasabe and gari (sushi ginger).


CP had the weekend of 25th and 26th Feb to complete the Sushi Cake and the Cake was delivered exactly on the day I requested, on 27th Feb.  K shared his cakes with some of his good friends and I shared some with my girlfriends. Everyone thumbed up to the tasty choclatey Sushi Cake


I’m glad I’ve made a special someone happy. It’s not Japan, but very close 😉

More Sushi 🍣 

I took a day off on 28th Feb coinciding with the school’s carnival break. I brought K to one of his favourite Sushi restos to celebrate his 16th birthday, thus concluding a plethora of Sushi and ramen bingings.

Sikinoya, Leuven


If you don’t already know …

25th March is a special day, too, because it was the date given to me by my gynaecologist 16 years ago. She estimated my baby would be born full term on 25th March. She was not totally wrong, because, baby K arrived almost 4 weeks too soon! You can read about his special birth on this post, “A special day that does not occur every year“.
 

K with his ukulele singing Ed Sheeran’s songs

Good Health and Happiness, my boy. God bless *heart*

Cheers!