Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Business Common Sense is Hard to Come By

I really don't get people who call people on official business on a public holiday. I totally get it if you're calling the family doctor or the neighborhood restaurant or a beauty salon for a spa booking any time of the day, but I don't get it when strangers (who gets my number from various sources) call me up on a public holiday and asks me if my organization can assist them with certain activities or provide official sponsorships etc. I'm like, "gosh if you really want me to help you, please at least send me an official email or contact me on official hours instead of calling me on my mobile on a public holiday / weekend at odd hours like 8pm with a less than politely-appealing tone and manner"

Common sense people. Do not bother your clients, business associates and management of companies whom you are appealing for help, especially when they owe you nothing. Then you wonder why they don't respond to you. if you need the help, you play the rules by their terms. Or at least learn proper acceptable business etiquette.

Come on, personal time is personal time. Holidays are holidays. I'm not a doctor on-call 24-hours. Unless it's a mater of life and death or you're paying my salary, please spare me the drama.

Earl Grey Cupcakes

I came across a beautifully illustrated cupcake recipe book (RM35.80) last week at MPH Subang Parade. This British publication contains recipes from an actual bakery in London known as the Primrose Bakery and they specialise in cupcakes primarily. It’s good to know that the recipes are tried and tested, plus the simple language and gorgeous pictures accompanying each and every recipe makes it a breeze to follow.

A few recipes caught my eye and I’ve shortlisted my “must try” list; these are the few I seriously plan to test out ...
  1. Earl Grey Cupcakes (this is the first recipe I’ve tried)
  2. Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes (using fresh strawberries)
  3. Raspberry Cupcakes (using raspberry jam)
I think there are over 20 types of cupcakes here with an equally wide assortment of icing, so if you mix and match the various cakes with different icing, you’re in business!
Thankfully for the long Raya (Eid) holidays, I found time to test this out and share it here ... presenting the recipe for Primrose Bakery's Earl Grey cuppas....

Here’s the (simplified*) recipe as per the book, comments in brackets.
  1. 125ml milk
  2. 4 Earl Grey tea bags
  3. 110g unsalted butter ( I use SCS salted, it’s fine as well, make sure it’s soft, at room temperature)
  4. 225g granulated sugar (you may drop to 210g as I found it rather sweet, especially with the icing)
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 125g self-rising flour, sifted
  7. 120g plain flour, sifted
    * not word for word
Ingredients for lilac icing:
  1. 110g unsalted butter ( I think regular salted butter offsets the sweetness)
  2. 60ml milk (room temperature)
  3. 500g icing sugar, sifted
  4. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (get the real stuff, not just the fake essence!)
  5. I can’t find lilac food colouring so I combined pink and blue food colouring; one tiny drop at a time, these stuff are heavy.
  6. Word of caution, this icing recipe makes ALOT of icing, probably enough for 2 batches of cupcakes, so half it accordingly or refrigerate the extra for another batch of cuppas.

Method, in Shorty's own words:
  1. Preheat oven to 160 C (settings should be top and bottom with fan) or 180 C (without fan). I find it more even with the fan on.
  2. Heat milk in a saucepan till boiling, then pour over the 4 teabags, let it infuse for 15 to 30 mins.
  3. Mix the sugar and butter for 3 to 5 mins till smooth and even. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing in between.
  4. Sift and combine flours separately, then add them to the egg+butter mix in batches.
  5. Pour in part of the milk infused with tea, alternating with the flour. The final mixture would have a rather liquid / soft consistency.
  6. Spoon them into paper cups, about two-thirds full.
  7. Bake for about 20 to 25 mins, depending on your oven, it takes about 22 mins in my Fagor for a 12–hole cupcake pan.
  8. Insert a toothpick into the centre of one of the cupcakes to see if they are done. If it comes out clean, it’s done!
  9. Remove pan from oven, let cakes sit in pan for 10 mins and then remove so they can cool on a wire rack.
  10. Once cakes are completely cooled, ice with the icing. Decorate with sprinkles of granulated sugar or purple sugar flowers. I decided to use white chocolate sprinkles. I thought the white looked so delicate on the pastel lilac., anyway it's too much effort to look for purple flowers, unless there's a special occassion.

Look, this recipe makes the cakes nicely brown and evenly raised. I hate it when cupcakes rise lop-sided!
Below; pastel lilac icing with white choc sprinkles.

Shortcake’s verdict?
These cakes are amazingly easy to make, just ensure you have quality teabags and plain milk on hand. The texture is very soft , melts in your mouth and the flavor is very delicate, like milky tea with a hint of bergamot. Perfect for those with a sensitive and well-developed palate, and tea lovers of course. Hubby thinks my ‘lilac’ icing looks like ‘grey’, how ironic.

Shorty’s loving them tea-cuppas!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What is Lost Will be Found

Hello again Robert Langdon (Tom Hank grins in my head)! I've been pining for this ever since I got wind of it online. I ordered the book via MPH online (at a 30% pre-order discount) and it arrived just before the long Raya weekend.

My precious long awaited first edition hardcover of The Lost Symbol:

Here's a sneak preview of the first paragraph of the first page ...

I can't wait to dive into Langdon's world of historical mystery and mortal danger, and yes, I'm also prepared for the token corny lines. But Dan Brown is a great storyteller all the same. Looks like farming is gonna take a backseat for awhile.

This is now available at all major bookstores; 20% off at MPH if I remember correctly.

Meanwhile I'm deep into Audrey Niffenegger's Time Traveler's Wife ... quarter more to go.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Salam Aidilfitri!

The cool thing about Malaysia is the amazing number of public holidays and festive celebrations we enjoy! We are now celebrating Aidilfitri or affectionately known as "Raya" in Malaysia. So Shortcake would like to wish all Muslim friends and all Malaysians...

"Selamat Hari Raya
Happy Holidays!"

I'd like to 'borrow' this uber-cute, super-charming greeting from my fav Doodolls (which incidentally is a Malaysian brand)

Uber cute greeting courtesy of Doodolls on Facebook.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Are The Kids Up To?

So we go to work in the morning; I usually leave earlier but hubby wakes up just as I leave the house or sometimes later. Hence I just leave it for him to make the bed if he feels up to it in the morning.

In the evening, I almost always come home earlier than he does, hubby's always got gym sessions or meetings in the evening, plus the occasional happy hour thrown in. Sometimes when I come home after a long harrassed day at work, I walk into the bedroom, and this is what I find ....

Often the kids are all tucked into a neat row with the covers snuggling up to their necks, once I found them in a nice circle on the bed, as if conspiring something ....

There you go, that's how hubby makes the bed in the morning when he's in the mood for it. This always puts a smile on my face and whatever s*** happened during the way is wiped away clean and I'm cheerful as a bunny.

Thank you baby, I'm thankful you're my hubby *muaks*

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More on Farming

I'm not too busy on the farm today, it's not time for harvest yet. For the clueless, this is how the farm looks like when crops are in progress. It takes anything from 2 hours to 4 days for the crops to be ready, depending on the type of crops you choose.

I've got a combination of Blueberries and Pineapples, which are the most 'profitable' and 'expensive' crops there are at this point.

So what does a farmer do when the crops are ready? Hire workers to harvest. This here is the marketplace where everyone congregate to hire and get hired to make more Farm Coins. If the stars are on you you'll probably make some new friendly acquaintances from all over the world. I've met a girl from Georgia, a guy from Dubai, a guy from Egypt and several Malaysians too. Well, once in a while you get some weirdo pervert.

That's about it on farming for the day ... I've got to run along to sharpen my sickle and plow now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cute Charity Tee

Look at this, so darn cute! Say you love KL for charity! I don't mind one really, plus it's for SPCA, the animals could really do with some help for sure. But would I look like a tourist? For the sake of cute puppies and stray kitties ... I don't mind one single bit. Not sure about the gymnasts though .... hmmm ....

Tees are available in various sizes for MEN, WOMEN and KIDS at Delicious till December at only RM25. Methinks they make meaningful gifts too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Welcome to My Farm!

Yet again I have been rather distant and quiet .... wanna know why? I've been busy farming. Boy I gotta tell you, farming is seriously hard work. The slightest lapse in time management and good planning and your crops die on you, and you waste precious time and money.

This is how my farm look like ..... seriously, no, it's not a real farm *duh*, it's Farm Town, an online multi-player game on Facebook. Gotcha.

Here's a close up of my little house .... I spent forever saving up enough Farm Coins to get this. Sadly the real estate scene there is rather limited, wish they had more designs to select from.

And here we have my motley crew of barnyard animals .... cute but completely useless. You can't gain anything from having these little buggers in your farm, except maybe the occasional bleats and neighs may liven things up abit. Well, at least you don't have to feed them.

I'm so proud of my farm I can just stare and marvel at it for hours!

I might post another entry on how this actually work, but meanwhile I gotta get back to my little farm. My chili peppers need harvesting!