Blog Archives

Summertime

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With recent temperatures peaking at below 30 degrees, the blustery winds can only mean that autumn is heading our way. A mere few weeks ago, I was complaining incessantly about the heat and humidity of Shanghai summers, but now that it’s coming to an end, I find myself rather sorry to see it go. Soon, the summery days where we sat outside in short shorts and skirts, enjoying the rays of the sun and licking candy coloured popsicles and chocolate Cornettos will be gone. Instead, they’ll be replaced with cardigans and light autumn scarves, and a hope that perhaps this year, autumn will last longer than a week.

Whilst going to Australia for university does give me a relaxing extra six months of holiday, the pitfalls include having to watch my friends leave one by one. Some I may see again next year, while others, perhaps never. It’s impossible not to be affected by this, and already, I miss my friends so much that I feel like my heart might explode. Regardless, there is nothing left to do but hold onto the vestiges of summer and happy memories of the past five years.

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One blistering summer week (in the perpetually summery Thailand) was spent on the party island of Koh Samui. Where…well, we didn’t quite party. Nevertheless, it was fantastic fun, patched together by consecutive sleepless nights of Italian Bridge and countless shots (after enough of them, you really do forget how to count). Many mornings, afternoons and evenings were spent in the cool presence of the infinity pool, where we were successfully lulled into a false security – that is, until we were tossed into the pool by nameless individuals (Luke and Francis). The highlight of which was when Francis finally got revenge on Luke by Sparta-kicking him into the pool. Ahh, sweet vengeance.

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Then there was the joint birthday brunch between Gabriel and I. Between the hours of 12 and 6, we partied, feasted, drank and watched Winnie the Pooh. Stuffed full from the tableful of pancakes, sausages, scrambled eggs, bacon, salad, cold platter and freshly home baked bread, we then continued to gorge ourselves upon the dessert end of the table. Laden with fifty odd chocolate banana and vanilla cupcakes, accompanied by whipped chocolate frosting and whipped cream and caramel banana bread, I don’t think my stomach has ever been so close to Winnie the Pooh’s. Luckily for him, the look is adorable on the bear. On me? Not so much. Lastly, we brought out a four layered tiramisu cake that we could barely eat after stuffing ourselves with so many goodies. But we did it anyway. What can I say? There’s always room for dessert.

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On that day, I received not only a ridiculously comfortable, humongous leopard print beanbag (placed next to my laptop for size comparison), but also the best card I have ever seen and received.

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The sangria that we served at this birthday brunch captures the very essence of summer – it’s the kind of drink that unmistakeably builds the vision of tropical fruits ripening on luscious green vines, and is downright delicious. Being a brunch party, it would hardly have been appropriate to serve alcoholic sangria when it had barely hit noon. Instead, I added more fruit juices to make up for the wine, which did make the sangria much sweeter than it would have been, but saved me the effort of boiling simple syrup.

The wonderful things about tiggers  sangria are that it is deceivingly easy to make, and will taste wonderful no matter what combination of juices you use. While I started with the recipe below, it was all gone in neck breaking speed, so I had to whip up an extra two batches with whatever juices I had left (read: poured in random juices and grenadine syrup that I had lying around).

To keep the sangria cool, half fill a bundt pan with water and freeze. If you, like me, don’t have the freezer room for an entire bundt pan because your fridge is too full of frozen cakes and goodies, then don’t fret! Just fill up a lock&lock box with water, or even more juice and freeze. This will keep the sangria consistently cool without diluting it much.

As for the club soda or soda water, while Pellegrino and San Benedetto are more economical since you can buy them in 1.5L bottles, Schweppes’ club soda has twice the carbonated goodness. I used a mixture of both, since that’s what I had on hand.

When serving the sangria, pour it into a humongous, but pretty bowl (regretfully, I only had my metal mixing bowl. Sad, I know), and furnish with a stack of glasses and a ladle, so that you can sit back and let everyone serve themselves. Not everyone can hire cater waiters like Dan Humphrey. If you do serve some sangria, be sure to ladle a few slices of lemon or lime, or any other fruit into the glasses. It makes a simple drink look effortlessly tropical and classy.

Lastly, I would just like to raise a glass to my friends for being so utterly amazing.

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Virgin Sangria

Adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef

  • 750ml grape juice
  • 250ml apple juice
  • 250ml orange juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced
  • 1 large orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 plum, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 500-750ml sparkling water or club soda (to taste)
  1. The night before, put sliced fruits and fruit juices into a jug and let them marinate overnight. Half fill a bundt pan or a lock&lock box with water and freeze.
  2. Just before serving, transfer sangria into a large punch bowl. Add ice and club soda to taste. Stir.

relax, take it easy

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Hey there, friends. It’s been too long, I’m sorry.

Yeah, I know. You, me and everyone else has probably just had one of the most stressful weeks ever. Duke of Edinburgh expeditions…Exam week…Getting results back…

But that’s okay, you know, because it’s over now. It’s the weekend! You should be at home, sinking deeply into your favourite sofa (or blue chair). Those feet should be propped up on the table, too. That’s right, go right ahead (as long as it’s not your dining room table. That’s just plain gross!).

Yes, you should be doing that…unless you’re me. You see, my brother came home again and that means lots of work for me. Lots of dishes to wash and tables to wipe. And lots of food to make.

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So yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing all day. I’ve rebounded straight back into the kitchen scene and I love it. Well, except for the washing dishes part. Nothing’s perfect.

But seriously, I’ve made so much food today. I made breakfast…little whole-wheat pancakes. The whole healthy aura was ruined slightly when I mercilessly drowned them in maple syrup. Mmm…maple syrup.

I also made sandwiches for lunch. Creamy crab for my brother, chickens and olives for my mom and good ‘ol ham for me. That’s mine up there. I love it when my food looks like a rainbow. It makes me feel all cheerful and gay. In the cheerful sense. (:

And of course, there was cake. Where would my weekend be without cake? I had some Nutella sitting here at home that was just begging to be used. Hey, it asked for it! And I thought….what goes well with Nutella? Why, chocolate. Everything goes with chocolate. Of course, everything goes with Nutella as well, though I have to say the best way to enjoy Nutella is directly out of the jar with a spoon. Savour it slowly, guys!

I know there are so many people out there who refuse to sift. Why is it such a big deal?? Does it really make a difference? I implore you guys. No! I beg! Please please please sift your ingredients when baking. It makes such a huge difference. Maybe it’s just my overpowering hate for lumps talking, but this, my friends is why we need to sift:

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Yeah. Check out that huge ass lump of cocoa powder on the right. That is not something you want to bite into in your cupcake.

“Mmm…delicious…chocolatey…ARHKGAD. UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER! ARGHA KOFF KOFF KOFF”

And then you would choke to death on the dry lump of cocoa powder. Is that what you want?? You want to die a horrible death choking on your hideous tumour of a lump of cocoa? So be it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. REFUSE TO SIFT AT YOUR OWN RISK!

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Besides, sifting is soo rewarding, especially when you’re rewarded with such innocent little chocolate cupcakes. Oh how naive they are, all unfrosted and such. But that’s going to change…this is a great example of when good goes bad.

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Oh, so very bad. You see, chocolate cupcakes and Nutella frosting are the naughty couple of cupcakes. Enough chocolate to be completely and utterly addictive, and the hazelnutty taste of Nutella just gives it that twist that makes it oh-so-much better.

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The best thing? These cupcakes are easier than pie to make. I mean this quite literally. Pie takes quite a while to make, you know. So really, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. Relax, take it easy.

With Love,

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(It wasn’t me.)