Sunday, 29 November 2009

It's my Birthday today and there's no cake in sight...

It's my Birthday today and The Lovely Wife didn't get me a cake...
She didn't get me a cake simply because she felt that I make better cakes than any of the shop bought cakes and so buying a cake would just not be worth it. So instead, she got me a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in lieu of a cake! How sweet of The Lovely Wife!



I got some lovely presents too that included a non-stick pastry mat and pasta tongs. We had a busy day today where most of it was spent with close friends over lunch after celebrating their childs baptism.



The lunch kind of meandered into tea and then we had to go to exchange something at the nearby shopping centre. It was almost 6pm when we returned home and that is when the The Lovely Wife and the kids presented me with my Ice Cream! I knew something was up because the kids and The Lovely Wife kept whispering and sniggering half the time that we were out!



I suggested that we wait till after dinner but they insisted that I have at least one spoon of the ice cream. I fed the kids and The Lovely Wife a spoon each too. We'll enjoy more of it after dinner tonight...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Birthday Pictorial

I'm a little late posting more pictures of Mike's 8th Birthday that fell on the 15th of November 2000 but here they are...


Michael looking under his bed for the presents that we hid there before waking him up...



Sarah's present to her brother - a pack of Army Men...both of them are still a little sleepy!


Mike with his Aircraft Carrier model that I ordered from eBay...


We got Mike a replica Chelsea Jersey - A boy grows up and learns to support his own football team, never mind that he used to support Arsenal due to the brainwashing from his Daddy that Arsenal is the better team. At least he still claims that Arsenal is his second favourite team...


Before the rest of the family arrived. They both decided they wanted to wear their replica jerseys. At least my princess knows which team to support!





Sarah had learnt how to play Happy Birthday on the piano and she played it while everyone sang along!




Blowing out the candles on the Aircraft Carrier Cake...



Brother and Sister with the Cake...

All in all a lovely time was had by all. Stay tuned for some of the food that was made for Mike's Birthday - this is after all, a Food Blog!!

Happy Birthday Michael!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

8 Years Old today with an Aircraft Carrier Cake...



Today is my son Michael's Birthday - 8 years old! As usual, we woke him up in his room and hid his presents under the bed...!

As each birthday comes to pass, the challenge to make the children their birthday cake of choice gets more and more difficult!

This year, Michael asked for an Aircraft Carrier cake. As usual, I surfed the Internet and got an idea of how others had made Aircraft carrier cakes. I had grandiose plans of trimming the cake in the shape of a V, and then having a flat top - just like how an Aircraft Carrier should - but I realised that the cake wouldn't possibly stand with any stability. So I just decided to make a large rectangle cake and then cut it so that at least from the top it would look like an Aircraft Carrier.



I had also planned on making the control tower out of cake but one evening as I looked at all the Lego my son has, I hit upon the idea of making a control tower out of Lego.


An Aircraft Carrier needs Aircraft and I looked at all the toy shops for little toy aeroplanes but couldnt find any. One of the presents that we bought for Michael was a plastic need-to-assemble model Aircraft Carrier. As luck would have it, when Michael opened up the Aircraft Carrier box this morning, it was full of tiny Aeroplanes! Yay! Problem of lack of planes solved!!



After icing the ship, I still felt it needed a little enhancement so I printed out 'runway guides' and the Ship Registration number on Plastic Transparency. Why MA 49? Well, Michael likes the number 49 and MA are the initials of his first and middle names.



As I type this, there are some Apple Cinammon Muffins baking in the oven while The Lovely Wife is slaving in the kitchen making fried noodles. No party per se but since the Grandparents and the Uncles and their families are coming over, there needs to be some food...

Stay tuned for the Cake Cutting photos as well as photos of the 'pseudo party'!!


Friday, 13 November 2009

Ich bin ein Deutschlander

In November 1989, I was in my final year of University and stuck right in the midst of final exams. My university years saw the development of my political ideaology and the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989 was an event that was so significant. Never, ever did I think the Berlin Wall would fall. That event was the catalyst that brought about the end of communism in many parts of the world - especially Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall led to the unification of Germany in October 1990.

I have visited Germany and in fact spent some time there on work. I used to go for two week stints practically twice a year from 1992 to 1996. I had the pleasure of visiting Munich (or Munchen as the Germans call it) and Hanover with brief visits to neighbouring cities like Mittenwald, Celle and even Dachau. Dachau used to be a Concentration Camp and visiting it was an experience that will not be easily forgotten. I really enjoyed Germany with its incredible history, culture, food and of course the Beer!


20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is sad to see that many other walls have not fallen. These walls may not be physical walls but rather invisible or virtual walls. The walls of Racism, Sexism, Inequality, Corruption and many others still exist but I believe that these walls will all come crumbling down one day.

The fall of the Berlin Wall taught me that nothing is impossible. It also made me a firm believer in the Power of the People. It showed me that no matter how strong a regime may be, how corrupt things may be, how difficult a situation may be, it is the will of the people that will finally come through. It may take a long time but change can only happen if the people will it. And once the people will it, change will come. History has shown us this not just in the Fall of The Wall but in the destruction of Apartheid in South Africa, the removal of many regimes in many parts of the world, the First Black President of the USA, the loss of the 2/3 majority of the Governing party in Malaysia's Parliament in March 2008 and many others.

These are all events that I never thought I would live to see but it has happened. And it has happened because of the Power of the People.

I celebrate the Fall of the Wall not just for the freedom it gave to the people of Germany but for what it symbolises to the rest of the world. In this age of globalisation and with the world becoming smaller through the use of technology and communications, we need to focus on our similarities and put aside our differences. We need to recognise that we are all one people no matter what our culture, our nationality or our religions.

With my frequent trips to Germany, I learnt a little Deutsche and also learnt the German National Anthem - Das Deutschlandlied (The Song of Germany). The original Anthem was 3 verses long and started off with Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, (Germany, Germany above All).

From what I was told, this phrase was not looked upon favourably after the second world war. Currently only the last stanza of the original anthem is sung. The first line goes Unity and justice and freedom
and although it is meant for the German Fatherland, I believe that today it is applicable as a call for Unity, Justice and Freedom EVERYWHERE in the world.

That is why, in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, I join ranks with the people of Germany and declare that in the spirit of Brotherhood, Ich bin ein Deutcshlander - I am a German. in further commemoration of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and in the hope and trust that all other walls will eventually fall, I reproduce the German National Anthem...





Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand;
|: Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland. :|
Unity and justice and freedom
For the German fatherland!
For these let us all strive
Brotherly with heart and hand!
Unity and justice and freedom
Are the pledge of fortune;
|: Flourish in this fortune's blessing,
Flourish, German fatherland. :|




Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Homemade Hot Fudge Topping or Chocolate Sauce




I had always wanted to make my own hot fudge to serve with Ice Cream or as an accompaniment to various desserts. I tried many different recipes and each one never turned out quite right until I hit upon this creation!

Theres just something rather special about making your own hot fudge. You know exactly what goes in, there are no preservatives and it tastes good too. Time to get rid of your store bought chocolate sauce!



The Lovely Wife made some waffles the other day and I made this sauce to go with it. We served the waffles with bananas and chocolate sauce and it was really quite delicious!



This is how I made my chocolate sauce...

Ingredients

4 tsp butter
8 tsp cocoa
¼ cup sugar
½ cup milk
3 tsp Liquid Glucose (or use Corn Syrup if you like)
1 tsp vanilla

Method
In a double boiler, combiner butter and cocoa.
Melt together and stir so that it becomes a smooth paste
Add in sugar and continue to heat
Add milk. Mixture will look like chocolate floating on the milk.
Keep stirring over heat and mixture will eventually combine.
Add liquid glucose a little at a time until desired thickness is reached. Remember it will thicken more when cool
Remove from heat. Add vanilla and let cool




Needless to say, it was a huge hit with the kids. My little princess really enjoyed it and my son has added my chocolate sauce to his list of favourites.



You can add more cocoa to make it more chocolatety. It goes really well with ice cream too and tastes just like something you'd find in an ice cream parlour. Try it out - its really simple and tastes really professional too.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Can you tell me how to get...

How to get to Sesame Street?!!



Did you know that Sesame Street is 40 years old? I didn't till I saw the google doodle (The modified google logo used to celebrate various occasions) that featured Sesame Street as celebrating its 40th Anniversary.

I grew up on Sesame Street but I never realised that I am older than Sesame Street. That would explain why all the characters, the human ones that is, haven't really aged all that much. Well, they have aged but havent we all...

I have always been especially fond of Sesame Street. So much so that I insisted that my own two kids watched Sesame Street rather than Barney (that infuriating purple dinosaur). In fact, Barney was banned from my home. I never liked the fact that Barney was a "dinosaur from our imagination" whereas I felt that Sesame Street was more real. Okay, so maybe I'm stretching it a bit to say that Oscar the Grouch, Elmo and Big Bird are real but they were meant to be real - rather than from your imagination. If you get what I mean...

Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster,The Count, Grover and a whole host of other Monsters, Bob McGrath and the other human actors (whose names I cant remember) all became a part of our lives.

I loved the songs from Sesame Street. I love the lessons of life. I loved how they addressed issues that kids would know and would feel. I loved how it could always bring a tear to my eye or make my heart light with laughter. I loved how it always made me feel good about myself. And I love how after 40 years, it still has that same effect.

Thank you Sesame Street for the wonderful times you gave my kids. Thank you even more for the wonderful times you gave me. I hope that Sesame Street continues to live on and perhaps, just maybe, the children of my children will enjoy and grow up on Sesame Street too...in the meantime, lets celebrate 40 years, (yes Count 40 years!) of Sesame Street and lets sing along. I know you know the song...!

Sunny day - Sweepin’ the clouds away,
On my way to where the air is sweet.
Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.

Come and play, everything’s A-OK
Friendly neighbors there that’s where we meet
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street

It’s a magic carpet ride. Every door will open wide.
Happy people like you. Happy people who.

Like a beautiful sunny day sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame street, how to get to Sesame Street, How to get to . .

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