Thursday, 31 May 2012

David Austin´s Queen of Sweden is AMAZING!

The first thing I do when I wake up is to go check out my `this´ baby every single morning.  It´s AMAZING that she just kept on opening up without wilthering! Sadly to say, not all David Austin roses are like that.  The two which Mama has and we planted on the ground instead of in a pot like this one, is wilthering and drying up.  Strange because we have been watering them consistently and yet.  It could either be the soil, the spot (it is in a sunny spot as recommended) or could it be infected?

Time to put on my Sherlock Holmes suit!

But ahhhh .. ain´t Queen of Sweden gorgeousss :-)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Peony Party @ DH Almere´s Lakeside House

My DH friends gathers for eat out session almost every quarter.  It is one of those events where we could revive back our familiar language we spoke back home and to eat to hearts will all the food we grew up with.  Our last meeting was at DH Drachten´s place for Chinese New Year which I missed.

When spring hit, DH Almere offered us her place to gather.  It is our second time gathering at her place so it is nice to have familiar surrounding.

The boys or rather hubby set out to sail with DH Almere´s hubby and her son.  They just got themselve a new sail boat and her hubby wanted to test it out before their big sail trip the next day.  Hub loved the test sessoin to say the least and did not mind one bit that he got so sunburned in that short course of 2 hours.  He had sailed big ships before and small training sail boats but nothing of this size so it is quite an experience it seems!

While the boys are at it, the girls did some prep work.  The official theme is actually peony party with dimsum for food.  DH Almere´s Peony was there alright but still not in bloom.  Our talented host quickly though up of an alternative flower arrangement which resembled peony and adorn up the deck area with handmade peony balls for hanging.  How clever!

Drinks were applenty too.  Water, soft drinks, juices, beer, wine, bubbles and cocktail.  We have them all.

Dessert table was overflowing too.  From chinese, malay, french, japanese, belgium and all the way to new york!

Some food that was suppose to be for lunch got pushed to dinner instead because the serving table was not big enough to house them all ... It is pot luck where everyone contributes in to something and most of us try to bring something we miss from home.

But due to presence of our spouses from various international background, we had a good mix.  For example, we brought Bratwurst.  Johannes from Hongkong made his famous Siew Yuk and Japanese Gyoza.  And DH Almere made Strawberry Salad and Dutch Patata or Fries for the kids.

I arrived early due to the sailing session so I had some time to admire some of her lovely flowers in the garden. 

No picture from the group here because they might be camera shy?  But I thought I´ll show you a picture of where we had our dessert.  A beautiful deck area overlooking the lake on a beautiful spring/summer weather last Saturday and surrounded by a table full of wonderful dessert around 4pm.

The girls started asking when is our next gathering.  It is our turn at our place.  We had an apple and grape harvesting session last year, but this year .. our grapes are gone due to the greenhouse.  And so I am thinking apples and plum session as our plum seems to be flowering well this year!  As for the theme, I am going wild in my head right now.  Stay tune folks ... time to plan for our event next!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Hubby made Mousse un Chocolat tonight ...

What a nice surprise ... :-)

I wanted to show you this too. Mama´s David Austin Getrude Jekyl is out! I cannot believe it came out faster than Glamis Castle and Queen of Sweden ...

I added 6 new Allium last autumn.  Not the usual variety (medium deep purple) but large head of lilac coloured petal kind.  I thought they were simple mesmerizing!

Grilled Sardine, Chicken Paella and Truffles Dinner

Our kitchen and livingroom last night felt like oven so we had dinner on our terrace last night.  It was great choice because not only was it cooling and breezy, our entertainment came straight from the nature with birds singing enthusiastically from the trees nearby.  Today, I have been busy preparing a few pot luck dishes to bring over to DH Almere´s Peony Party tomorrow.  I made Har Gao or Cantonese Prawn Dumplings.  Har Gao is known to be a very difficult dimsum variety to make as one needs to ensure the dough is as thin as can be, but yet should not break.  Tough.  I think my Har Gao is the ugliest possible so I hope the girls don´t mind!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Rose Macaroning (Again)

I was not sure if my macaron would rise given that the weather today had been hot and humid.  It did again and spotted smoother surface too.  Its skirt were all well formed so I was pleased as can be this afternoon.  At the moment, I am still thinking of ways to incorporate in a rose flavoured ganache for the macaron. I am keeping my fingers cross it taste good enough for my friends in lowland this Saturday.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Pork Medallion Dinner and Leonidas Giamanda for Dessert

Truth to be told, I do prefer homecook food lately as compared to dining out.  It had been a glorious one week holiday in Belgium, a country famed for their wonderful cuisine with influences from the french counterpart.  But strangely, I was up for grocery shopping in their local supermarket and whipping up something simple versus sitting thru hours in a restaurant waiting for my meal.  Possible too that their chocolates were so good, I was contented as can be even before meal time came.


Especially Brussels.  Love it very much.  It is an elegant city.  The city itself is spaced out well with lots of nooks and corners for one to rest its feets.  Fountains, well manicured garden, french architecture ... what is there not to love.   Couple that with locals speaking french, it is my kind of holiday.  And of course, the chocolates, wonderful waffles, beer and seafood at the sideline to tempt one further ...

My hands were itching to cook, but since we carted home almost the entire Belgium supermarket (our boot and backseat were both filled up to the brim!) and I had to spent quite a bit of time unpacking them last night and this morning, dinner tonight was something easy from the freezer.  It is at times like these that I appreciate Bofrost, the frozen food company which delivers pretty good quality stuff straight to our doorstep.  I whipped up a few pieces of Pork Medallion, served them with Spatzel (a kind of potato noodle) and some greens.  Its happy dinner for both of us.

We went chocolate crazy this trip.  It is not expensive to enjoy them in Belgium.  Pretty much 30% cheaper than what we get here so we made it a ritual to walk into a chocolatier after each meal (lunch and dinner) to pick our favourite.  We tried quite a bit.  Some stand alone boutiques, some well known chain like Leonidas, Godiva or Neuhaus, and some straight from supermarket brands just to have a feel of its difference.  They were all good.  Smooth and deep.

This one here, Giamanda is one of our favourite.  We should have bought a kilo of these back instead of 2kg of mixed chocolate.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Mother´s Day Celebration 2012

It is my third Mother´s Day celebration here in Germany.  We usually spent them at home instead of heading to a restaurant so that we could attend to other things inbetween the coffee time and dinner time.

I baked a New York Rasberry Cheesecake from Ina Garten.  It was delicious and was dutily polished off in minutes.  Moist, tasty and served chill ... hubby requested for a rebake when we get back from Belgium next week. 

Mama had the kitchen´s dining table all decked out with fine tableware.  She also surprised us with a bottle of Strawberry Secco / bubbly before we start our coffee session.  As you can see, it is a joyous occassion hence both mum and son wearing RED ... the colour of passion :-)

This is the reason for this entry.  Hubby painted this pot!  It was after one of mama´s cup with beautiful Holland landscape.  Needless to say, Mama was impressed with hubby´s work! I was too! Imagine coming up with something close to what the original artist could in less than an hour?!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Barbecue Pork Ribs & Chicken Breast with Caesar Salad Side

I think I should do this more often!  With a good barbecue sauce in hand, anyone could whip up a yummy and hearty meal fit for a family, don´t you think?  I like my meat tenderly prepared, those fall-off-its-bone kinda meat but it is something I find not so easy to do when it comes to grilling method.  Perhaps you have a tip for me in this aspect???  Do share!  We had our dinner tonight with a simple Caesar Salad side sans anchovy in the sauce mixture.  Its refreshing salad netherless and great accompanying meat.

Today, I finally finished my little project for mother´s day tomorrow.  Hub did one too, initially played with clay modelling like what I did here but his did not turn up as expected so he decided to switch to plan B just this afternoon.  I´ve got to show you what he did.  It is being left to dry right now and there is just one word from me to describe it ... amazing!

This was the little project I made.  A small plate to place chocolate pieces using simple clay material.  This technique was an inspiration I got from Pinterest, did not expect it to be doable but yes, it is an amazing `press`the pattern you want onto the clay and let it dry.  I painted the botton baby blue to match mamas kitchen interior.  Hope she likes it!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Four Cheese Cannelloni & Rocket Salad for Italian Monday

My friend whom visited two weeks ago gave me half a bag of chocolates exchanged from all over the world during her recent visit to company headquarter in Nestle Switzerland.  I have been binging on it every evening after dinner which is not good at all so, I made it a point during today´s dinner to go light.

The supermarkets are getting exciting again.  Lots of fresh produce are lining the isles now and I particularly like it when it looks fresh, colourful and seasonal.  Today, I made a simple salad of Rocket, Tomatoes, Grapes, Cucumber and Capsicum.  I tested out the bottle of lemon salt I picked up from Barcelona last Autumn in the salad seasoning together with a splash of spanish olive oil.  A dash of honey and I am please as a pie.

Dinner was actually a cheat.  It is ready made Four Cheese Cannelloni when tomato sauce within.  I´ll say, go with the flow when time does not permit.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

His, Mine and Ours revealed ...

Hubby picked up his new toy few days ago.  He´s been wanting this Brompton Folding Bike for a while now and finally, he decided to go pick one up to be use coming spring holiday.

Me on the other hand as mention in my earlier posting, had been wanting to upgrade my camera for ages.  I love taking photo of our meals as you can see and if you´ve noticed, my photos in the dark is pretty and it is one of those bad points of owing a point and shoot from Lumix.  Having said that, it is a wonderful camera under normal outdoor lighting.  Anyway, after much comtemplation over whats available, I finally settle on Olympus EPL1 with two sets of lens.  I was told  not to go with Olympus as the company has not gone bust???  I was looking at Nikon1 at one point but it the camera seems to be good with speed and not much else.  I chose Olympus EPL1 as it came not just with amazing scene selection, their art filters pretty cool too!  And the lens .... now I know what I have been missing all these years ...
With 17 windows and 2 glass door on our floor alone, my head would take a great spin each time it rains and especially so when I´ve just gotten them cleaned.  The problem is, all our windows comes with a window box infront.  The soil would splatter much of its grim onto the window each time it rains and nothing much can be done about it althought we´ve tried planting bushier flower to cover the soil beneath.So anyway, its time to get efficient and we heard this latest Karcher Window Cleaner´s pretty cool.  A lot better than the old one where water drips constantly from the water tank, of which it weights a tonne (i´m exagerating but it feels like that, and yes, we do have the old model as well for sometime already)  so yes, we thought its finally time to get this tool ...

It was Baumarkt day yesterday.  We found some lovely metal racking which fit perfectly into our Greenhouse and took it home straighaway.  Just like the Greenhouse itself where we ordered online (there isn´t that many Greenhouse player in the market) how we stumble upon an almost perfect fit Greenhouse (right height, right lenght and right width) and most importantly, right price too ... IS beyond me.  It is as thought we got the whole ordeal customised. BUT it is not. So, we are naturally very please with it overall ...

So here´s to 2012 spring excitement ... :-)

La Casita Meal with Stammtisch

The seven of us decided for a change to dine in a Spanish Mexican restaurant in town instead of our regular German restaurant.  I was not amused when our first round of order arrived.  Two of us had an Enschiladas each, one ordered a Burritos and the last ordered of Chicken Surpreme (gebratene Hühnerbrust mit Käse überbacken dazu American Potatoes und Salat). 

What we did not expect is that all four of our plate looked and tasted the same.  No salsa at all on our plate and all came with french fries.  I didn´t know the spanish or mexican at fries this way ...

Friday, 4 May 2012

Pictures from my new TOY! And work update ...

WooT! Hubby got me a new camera! Happy and glad is an understatement, I am thrilled to the MAX and has been snapping away since I got them two days ago!  :-D  My new toy is not any new camera but also comes with two lenses.  This means that I am moving away from standard point and shoot camera so, there´s much to learn really; about its functionality, the aperture, light control, speed and stuff like that ... but having said that, it is very user friendly.  Thankfully.  They call this camera Semi Pro, it is meant to fit the void between standard point & shoot and professional series DSLR.  What is the occassion you may ask .. well actually, it is a pre-spring vacation gift for ourselves.  He is going to get himself a  new foldable bicycle from UK and he thought it would be nice for me to get something to play with too when we depart for our spring holiday in two weeks time. 

So update update a bit with new shoots ...

This was taken yesterday ... can you believe it I actually tagged all my tulips in colour coded tape.  Reason being is, I am thinking of getting them sorted out according to height to be rearranged again this autumn. Lots of work but worth it ... I hope.

Hubby is rushing to finish off the greenhouse by this weekend.  The weather is getting warmer so its nice working outdoor at this time of the year.  Also, it would be nice to see MIL doing her summer potting from here instead of the garage´s work bench which we felt was too high for her.  Hubby brought back 3 packets of French Pine Wood.  Good choice loukung because it not only looks great, it smell sooo good!!!

The soil spills over to the walkway each time it rains resulting in us having to clean them up constantly so, I made a resolution this year to dig that 1 feet lengthwise hole. and getting them filled with concrete slaps to secure the soil in place.  I didn´t know digging holes of such dimension can be so messy and hard. But its done ...

Hello home from the back!

Allium should be out really, really soon ...

The Geraniums growing well with the sunny weather now so I guess I´m going to head to the garden centre soon to pick up more for the balcony pots.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pampering Him on Italian Monday Night

Someone recently dropped me a comment asking where my daily dinner post. is.  I figured it would be kinda boring to blog or show you photos of dinner I´ve featured before and instead, wait for something a bit more significant like what is shown here.  The truth is, I am running out of ideas and out of steam but fair enough, I shall take it as a challenge since summer is around the corner and the abundance of seasonal produce is here again.  Also, I have a new toy to play with ... which is a new camera with two sets of gorgeous lens! More on that  later ...

So back to dinner, I made Caprese again but this time, instead of sprinkling some basil leaves over the mozarella and tomatoes, I pureed a batch of Barlauch and olive oil to dress it up.  Barlauch are also known as Wood Garlic, Bear Garlic or Bear Leek and it is in leave form which heavy garlicky taste.  Hence the name.  The inspiration came from a friend´s dining experience and I thought its pretty doable at home.

Hubby´s comfort food of Meat Balls and spagetti spring to mind when it main course came.  I´ve made meat balls thousand of times and each time, I tweaked the recipe a bit to give it some twist.  I wanted the meatballs to be tasty so I marinated them with pretty good handful of mature parmesan cheese inside.  To give it a chewy texture, I mixed in some breadcrumbs too.  All and all, hubby helped himself to second helping so I guess that is a green light to remake again eh?

So like I said, I try featuring something new in my blog entry.  If the above two made you realise that hey, I´ve made them before so why this entry .. well, this is it.  THE tiramisu towards the end of the meal.  Funny why I´ve made countless dessert but have not tried the fame tiramisu.  Without any recipe at hand, my adventurous sense took over again.  How bad can it be once I have mascaporne cheese, cream, sponge fingers, espresso coffee, coffee liquor, cocoa powder and sugar with me.  Hmmm .. the texture of the mascarporne does not seem right ... its not smooth enough and something´s just missing.  Which leave me with another list to do ... get a good recipe and do it properly :-)