Saturday, January 13, 2018

New life's learning - Baking Kueh Lapis :)

Pic source: Channels News Asia

Bbbrrrrrrr......... It was so cold this morning!!! Most Singaporean chose to have their window opened last night to let the cooling air entering their house and bedroom. The air-conditioner was retired for the day. The rain had poured for sometime, and even some days. But only yesterday night I could feel the drastic temperature change. It felt so cold at the Outram Park when I walked to the four-star hotel in the area to meet two new Bhutanese friends to pick my parcel up from Bhutan. My other friends felt the same too and I could see many people walking on the road wearing additional layer of cloth to keep themselves warmed.

The new Instagram account - rimareyka.writes - for the love of thinking and writing. Add me there if you have not yet done so! ;)

Before leaving the house, I saw my in-law lying down in the sofa with blanket covering from her neck all the way to the feet while playing the Pokemon games from her mobile phone. So enviable!!!! In this kind of weather, I would have snugged inside my blanket with a book on hand and a cup of hot coffee at the side table next to me. Or otherwise I would have just browsed the Facebook, gone through the Instagram photos and stories, checked new posts on We Chat Moments, or thought deeply on what poem to post at the new installed Apps - Yourquote.in. (In case you have joined, you can follow me there - Rima Reyka) or add me on Instagram - Rimareyka.writes.

Unfortunately I had to leave the house at 8.30 am with small umbrella on one hand (to save me from the drizzling rain that had poured continuously since the night before) and the batik patterned bag slung on my right shoulder.  I had to reduce my walking speed as my purple flip flop had grown old and slippery (to prevent myself from getting blue mark on the butt and unlimited embarrassment if I really fell down hahaha.. :P).

I finally started doing my first part-time job since last Saturday. My Indonesian bestie recommended me a job to bake the Indonesian Kueh Lapis (Thousand Layer Cake) since the lady boss needed someone to do it as the Chinese New Year was coming soon. If you have no idea what am I talking about, please watch the following Youtube video to explain what the Kueh Lapis is and why people usually order, buy, and eat it during Chinese New Year.



By watching the above video, hopefully you can have a better idea now about what Kueh Lapis is, using what ingredients (a very sinful cake using lots of egg yolk, butter, sugar, condensed milk, etc.), how to make it layer by layer (spread the mix dough into one layer, put it into oven until the color turns brownish, and continue to do so until it is at certain height), and what's the meaning behind it or on why people eating them during Chinese New Year (it is believed that each layer of cake represents each layer of prosperity in the upcoming year).

Both my besties had done it in previous years and asked me to do it as well before. But since the location of the working place was very far from my house (it required more than an hour to reach the place by MRT and bus), I never thought of doing it. But this time, since I had free time before pursuing another thing at the month-end, so I thought, why not??? At the same time I could earn some pocket money to buy stuffs for the upcoming Chinese New Year :)

One oven fits 4 moulds of cakes inside

So last Saturday I tried it together with my bestie. The lady boss trained me personally. One person was in charge of one oven that could place 4 mould of cakes at one time. We did not have to worry about the mixed ingredients as it had been prepared by the lady boss' son. We just had to bake the ready made dough.

This is how the sliced Prune Kueh Lapis looks like - Sold at $2 each

She taught us how to bake the Prune Kueh Lapis - same process with the Original Kueh Lapis, but we added preserved dried prune in between the layers, and there were steps to follow. E.g. Baked 3 layers of cake. On 4th layer, added the prune. Topped it another 2 layers and on the 3rd, added the prune. Topped it with other 2 layers, and on the 3rd added the prune again (meaning added the prune 3 times), and end it with 2-3 layers. Something like that. The ending product would be just like the above photo (I made that! :D)

Record down the number of steps I had done :P

It sounded easy but I had poor memory. Hahahahaha.... In the middle of baking it, suddenly I lost count on how many times I had put the prune in it. OMG!!! Or I lost count how many layers I had put in the first few layers - 3 or 4?? Since I had to multi task doing other things like taking the cake out from the mould, transferring it to the tray, spreading the butter into the mould, and so on. I felt very bad if I accidentally made it not as expected as the cake was sold at a very expensive price. The price for the Original Kueh Lapis is SGD $58 while the Prune is SGD $61!!! (Imagine how many hours should I work to be able to buy one??? ^^"). Luckily the lady boss and her son were very kind and understanding. They said they would use the wrong one as the tasting sample to prevent waste. Therefore, to prevent the miscalculation, I had to write down the no. of steps on the paper each day now and put more attention on the timing to produce a good cake :)

Me caught in the action (Pardon me for the blurred picture as my friend took candid shot when I was working) :D

I had to stand up most of the time and faced the heat from the oven. My left arm and hand were aching as I had to take the mould in and out (each layer) and rotated them (to distribute even heat inside the oven) for hundred over times - daily. My right hand was paining from opening and spreading the dried prune one by one, also from spreading the mix dough into the mould layer by layer.

To finish one batch of the 4 cakes required two and half hours. On my first day, I managed to do 20 cakes (5 batch) from 10 am to 6 pm. In between I had about half an hour lunch break. So at least I had to stand up for 7.5 hours each day. We were allowed to sit down but we could not sit for long as we had to put our attention to the cake all the time to prevent over and under cooked.

My working table - Dough container, dried prune (some had been separated to make the process faster, water to clean the hand, wooden thing to press the layer and stick to pop the bubble out :)

On the second day, the speed increased as I found some ways to reduce the time in making it without affecting the quality of the cake. E.g. Separated the dried prune one by one so I could place it faster into the dough layer, prepared the cleaned and butter spread mould filled with dough when the current ones were almost done, and so on. In the end, I managed to make 27 cakes. So much improvement on the speed, but I felt very tired after that as it finished around 6.30 pm, and reached home almost 8 pm. The day after that I told the lady boss that I had to finish before 6 pm and instead, I would reach the place earlier (around 9.40 am). With this timing, usually I made 6 batches or 24 pcs of cakes daily - 2 batches before lunch and 4 batches after lunch.

Trays filled with the fully done Kueh Lapis!!! :)

Well, one week has gone and two more weeks to go. I hope I am blessed with good health (with raining days many people gets fever, cough, and cold), so that I can fulfill my duty as I had agreed to the lady boss. And although tiring, it was all worth doing as I learned something new in my life (added on knowledge and experience as I only knew how to eat and had zero idea on the making it before).

My Doraemon Piggy Bank! :P

Plus, at the end of the day when I reached home and entered to my room, it felt so good to slip the earning of each day into my Doraemon piggy bank that I hung on my room's door. I already planned in my head to open and calculate it on my last working day, purchase few necessary items, treat some good food to family members, and enjoy my upcoming holiday!!! So, let's pray that all my wishes come true!!! :D

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright

"Meet three women who are living their lives online, each one of them followed, idolized, imitated, taunted and trolled.

Elle Campbell is a glossy, lycra-clad mum with washboard abs, a ten-year plan and a complicated past. Abi Black has quit sugar, moved to the country and is homeschooling her moody teens. Leisel Adams slogs away at her office job each day before rushing home, steeped in guilt, to spend precious moments with her three babies before bedtime. They all share a label that they simultaneously relish and loathe - mummy blogger. And the connections don't stop there...

When all three women are nominated for a prestigious blogging award with a hefty cash prize, the scene is set for a brutal and often hilarious battle for hearts, minds - and clicks. As the awards night gets closer, their lies get bigger, their stunts get crazier - and some mistakes from the past become harder and harder to hide."

The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright

The above is the synopsis of the book. As a blogger myself, I know it well that blogging, apart from the way to express the heart out, the passion that flames within self, a media where writing skill, story telling, or poem writing can be flaunted, a site to share the life's journey and experiences, it is also the place where people can use it to generate money, influence, connections, fame, and so on.

Some use it as their main or side income to generate commission from the ads they posted within their blog, engage in sponsor of various products, hotel or Food and Beverage experience at different restaurants, and so on. And usually they create a life that is not necessarily the real life they live in. It is more into what appear on the outside rather than what really happens, which you can find out more from the book above.

There is nothing wrong with it really, until it has become a competition rather than passion, until the person has to hide the truth and lie exaggeratedly to show the best of their lives, to satisfy their ego to become the cream of the cream, which more often or not, not exist in real life. After all, we are all just a normal human being with our own strength and weakness, perfection and imperfection, happiness and sadness, peace and troubles, etc.

From the Mummy Bloggers :)

And lucky to those, that despite of their weaknesses and imperfection, there is always someone who will stay by their side, who loves, cares, supports incessantly to whatever things they do in their lives, who appreciates all the efforts and love given to the best they can.

We often heard this quote: "Behind every successful man, there is a supportive and encouraging woman," but it is also true that: "Behind every happy woman, there is a loving, supportive, and appreciative man that keep her safe and secure." 

So, this is my first read for the year 2018. Hope you have started yours and share your reading in your blog soon ;)

Monday, January 01, 2018

Books read for the second half of the year 2017

Depict me snuggling down under the Doraemon blanket with a cup of hot black coffee on the side table and a book within hands on my comfortable bed. That was how I had spent many days like that in year 2017, especially in the last month when it rained often in evening time.

End this raining season with delicious coffee and great book. Life is blissful :)

Below please find the book  that I read for the second half of the year 2017 :)

July 2017

July 2017:
1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
2. I Too Had  a Love Story - Ravinder Singh
3. Kadrinche Beyond Words - Kinley Wangchuk
4. The Expatriates - Janice Y.K. Lee
5. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - Arundhati Roy
6. Record of A Night Too Brief - Hiromi Kawakami

August 2017

Aug 2017:
1. Not For Happiness - Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
2. The Vegetarian - Han Kang
3. Life is Elsewhere - Milan Kundera
4. Beauty and Sadness - Yasunari Kawabata
5. Rich People Problems - Kevin Kwan

September 2017

Sep 2017:
1. The Girl of My Dreams - Durjoy Datta

October 2017

Oct 2017:
1. The Last Love Letter From Your Lover - Jojo Moyes
2. Buddha Dhamma for Students - Ajahn Buddhadasa
3. At Home in the World - Thich Nhat Hanh
4. Regrettable Things that Happened Yesterday - Ennani Durai
5. Sunday with Sumiko - Sumiko Tan

November 2017

Nov 2017:
1. Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change - Pema Choedron
2. How To Love - Thich Nhat Hanh
3. Met Without Women - Haruki Murakami

December 2017

Dec 2017:
1. Lady Stuff - Secrets to Being a Woman
2. Buddhism - One Teacher, Many Traditions - The Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron
3. Marriage: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures - Amber Dusick
4. Friend Request - Laura Marshall

24 books for the second half of the year 2017, made it total of 47 in a year. I still had hard time to finish the Buddhism books that I started. Just hope to change for the better in year to come :)

Happy New Year 2018!!! Wish you a wonderful chapter in life ahead!!! :)

Time goes by. Another year passes by. I hope all of you had a wonderful time in 2017 and made many beautiful memories, which would perfectly fit to be just a memory, and nothing else.

I hope you create more beautiful moments with your parents, spouse, children, partner, colleagues, friends, and even strangers this upcoming 2018 as life is unpredictable. Anything can happen in a split of second. Love much, live fully, laugh often, explore as much as you can, defeat your fear, and bravely face the world's challenges.

Hope you too keep your passion alive and recommend me some more good books please! Have a blessed 2018 ahead dear passionate readers and bloggers and wish you a wonderful chapter in your life ahead!!! Cheers.... :)
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