Penang dua

Oh what to say and where to start.  I’ve now been home for 2.5 weeks. I went to Penang with a dodgy cough and came home with a dodgy ankle. I only started wearing heels part of the day at work  late last week, wearing flats for two weeks was almost as bad as the pain itself. If you told a 21 year old Helen that she would wear heels to work everyday, I would have told you were to go.  I possibly hated wearing flats more so because I had picked up two new pairs of work shoes in Penang and was very much looking forward to wearing them 🙂

I tripped walking out onto the balcony. Of course I would have to fall on my dodgy ankle, my poor left ankle. That darn right ankle always gets off scot free. Jo was at work of course but as per usual she put on her “oh Helen” cap and brought me home chocolate and ice packs. Not that we didn’t have enough chocolate in the place already but … (see previous post)

White Knight Love

Yep! A White Knight bar! Hadn’t had one of those in years. Super mint chocolate goodness.

What else did I do in Penang?

Well.

The birthday girl had a birthday and Easter. That meant more chocolate and presents.

Lukcy girl, birthday and Easter on the same day

We spent the day wandering round George Town and the shops. Nothing exciting or really interesting to report really.

Dinner though needs to be reported. There was roti! (and curry) for dinner at one of the makanans at Batu Ferringhi and then a wonder of the markets before a round of birthday mojitos at Bora Bora.  Roti! (the ! is always needed at the end of roti! because one always get chipper about the prospect of a roti! overload).

Roti!

Lychee juice, watermelon juice

Mo, Mo, Mojito!

 

Looking at my collection of photos, I’ll think I break this post here and save the touristy day that was Easter Monday for another post.

Ever since I got back, people have been asking me about all the exciting things I saw and did whilst in Penang (I didn’t visit Malaysia, I visited Penang, since I didn’t leave the island at all). My answer is that I didn’t go to Penang for a week of sightseeing and shopping but I went for a week of girlie hanging out with one of my dearest friends. This means a week of chocolate, movies, food, casing the shops, drinks and general girlie shenanigans. Sure there was a few little touristy things thrown in here and there but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Saying hello from Penang

The last five weeks have been fairly hectic at my new job, which is OK because I had expected it. There has been quite a few nights when I’ve sat down at the laptop and said I really must post an update or two but then it is a case of where to start again.

I’ll start here, in Penang where I am for a week visiting one of my dearest, dearest friends for her birthday. I flew out of the GC on Friday morning and about 12 hours later I was in a massive round of hugs with Jo at the Penang airport. Happy times.

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Air Asia was very good to fly with and on the GC-KL plane I think I had more leg room than I have ever had before.

We went out to dinner at Song River on Friday and had a very, very nice meal. The fried rice from the gum boots man was so smokely delicious and the satay from one of the other stalls was oh so good as well. We washed our meal down with watermelon juice and that was just like drinking summer.

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Then it was back to the apartment to natter about the last 3.5 months and for me to get mothered, “now that you’ve finished your Lemsip you can go to bed”.

You see, I came home from a trip to Sydney for work three weeks ago with a dreadful cough. I’ve not felt unwell other than having for the first week a quite moist productive cough and rounds of coughing fits that would see me gripping what ever was closet to me so I didn’t cough my self to the moon. The second week it became a fairly dry cough but still massive coughing fits and my voice continued to sound well not the normal sweet voice I normally have. At the end of the second week the lower left side of my chest was causing me so much pain that I thought perhaps I had cracked a rib. Off to the doctors I went and after getting checked out to make sure it wasn’t anything more sinister it was confirmed that I had most likely pulled the muscles in that part of my chest. I was put on a cough suppressant and some antibiotics. The cough suppressant worked reasonably well to reduce my coughing fits to little piddly coughs. Well until I got to Penang of course and a day of travel and contrasting weather caught up with and the coughing returned in force. A cup of lemsip though and a good steam though managed to push the cough away again to just tiny coughs. The pulled muscles though not so fun. It hurts to laugh and well we do a fair bit of laughing. Still pain is the name of the game and whilst I could get some plastic surgery done whilst I’m over here, I don’t think they replace muscles yet. It is just a waiting game.

Yesterday we went to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion which is a museum of Nyonya life in the early heyday of Penang. Part of the museum is a Chinese jewellery museum which wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped as well it had been some time since the jewellery had been polished. The rest of the museum made up for it though, there was ornate furniture decorated with mother of pearl and some exquisite embroideries and very nice door handles and good turn of the century English floor tiles.

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We then had a “scenic” walk round Georgetown before arriving at a shopping centre or really a “sweet Holy Grail of air con”. It was then a “scenic” walk round a series of connected shopping centres before a “scenic” walk to another shopping centre where I was looking for something an old coworker had asked me to bring back for her.

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After that mission we hopped back in a taxi and headed back to the area where Jo lives to go to a shiny new shopping centre where we had lunch. One thing that Jo and I have in common is a love for hot food so we both ordered a curry laska for lunch that she had had before. One thing we didn’t think of is that my poor throat after three weeks of coughing is pretty scratched up. 🙁 Curry laska not such a good idea. Some gelato made it better though.

Back to the apartment then for some couch/movie/chocolate time and I finally watched Finding Nemo. Yes, I had never watched it. A few laughing coughing fits later the movie was over.

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We had dinner last night at Bali Hai. We had a freshwater fish steamed Hong Kong style. It was lovely. There was obligatory coconut water out of coconuts.

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After dinner it was time for some tropical berry mojito shakers at TGI Fridays whilst we watched children play in the water light show in the piazza and listened to a local trio whilst we of course nattered some more.

And that was my first 24 odd hours in Penang. Today is a big day as not only is it Easter Sunday, hello chocolate and hot cross buns but it is Jodes birthday :D. Which is the reason I’m visiting 🙂

I’m still on Queensland time, so I’m awake waiting for the birthday girl to rise.

Test post from my phone

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In getting ready for my Japan trip in oh 11 days, I’ve been looking at what I can do get the most out of my phone whilst I’m away.  This is my first trial at using the WordPress app for Android.

These chocolates are from Hachez in Bremen, I ate a lot of this chocolate when I was in Germany after finishing year 12. I was quite delighted to find them at the confectionery warehouse on the weekend.

Sunday Breakfast

Sundays are good days and bad days rolled into one. They are bad because it means back to work tomorrow and good because it means another day at home.

I went to the markets yesterday as I usually try to do on a Saturday. As a change though I picked two croissants. One for breakfast yesterday and one for breakfast today. A little indulgent I know but I have porridge for breakfast every other day, I’m exercising and I am the lightest I have been in I don’t know how long! Chocolate Croissants/Pain au Chocolat are one of the attractors that keep me coming back to the markets each week. When I was in Germany in 02/03, you could buy Chocolate Croissants for I think about €1.30 at the convenience store across the street. At the morning break, there would be a steady stream of teenagers coming back from the store with a Chocolate Croissant in one hand and perhaps a Kinder Surprise for later on. I can’t recall if I ever actually bought a Chocolate Croissant in Germany, I know I often bought a Kinder Surprise but I don’t remember reaching into the display case and grabbing a Chocolate Croissant.

Fast Forward four years later and on any day of the weekend around Brisbane you will find a “Farmers Market” though I say the word Farmers with caution because I have only been to one market in Brisbane that was strictly just a Farmers Market and that would be the Granite Belt wine/produce market that is held at South Bank occasionally. The Northey Street Organic Market is the second closet in terms of only having direct farm to you stalls but like the others does have a number of “market green grocers”. All the other markets appear to have perhaps between a third to a half of the fresh produce stalls are direct farmer to you and the rest will be the market green grocers who have the same variety of fresh produce that you would find at the local supermarket or green grocer. Perhaps one day the balance will swing more to direct farm to you stalls.

Back to Chocolate Croissants though, at all these markets there is often at least two, three or perhaps even four bakeries and in the last two odd years of going to the markets I have tasted I do believe all the Pain au Chocolat on offer at both markets and bakeries. My biggest complaint is that they are typically lacking in the chocolate department. If I want a Pain au Chocolat I want it to have a fair amount of chocolate in, otherwise I may as well just get a normal croissant, split it open and spread on a little Nutella. The very first Pain au Chocolat I had at a market in Brisbane was at the Mitchelton markets. I believe it was from Wild Breads and it was the closet to what I feel a Pain au Chocolat should be like. It had oozing dark chocolate in the middle and the pastry was golden and you could taste the butter. Since then I haven’t had any that have lived up to that first one. The Gympie Cultured Butter/Cheese stall does come close but isn’t what I would say perfect.

When I first started this post, I certainly hadn’t planned on writing the last three paragraphs! I had planned to show a photo and a little text.

Sunday Breakfast

A cup of tea or two (tea bag saved for that purpose) and a Pain au Chocolat which I ‘”refreshed” by running a little water over the top of it and placing it in the microwave on medium for about a minute. Worked quite well.

Now I’m off to the Art Gallery with Mum and then to The Farm to see Grandad.

Christmas Truffles

I’m moving house in a week today and one of the things I hope to have done by then is to have finished blogging about Christmas 2008. So here is another post to bring me a little step closer to the end of the 2008 Christmas Extravaganza.

I have wanted to make chocolate truffles for quite a while now and on more than one occasion I have brought cream with the intention of making truffles but ended up using it for something else.

For Christmas I made two types, the first where Peppermint Dark Chocolate and the second where White Rum, White Chocolate. They were rolled in a mixture of toppings, crushed Candy Canes (any idea how hard that is?), coconut, cocoa and sprinkles. I was not 100% happy with how they turned out so I won’t be sharing a recipe but here is a link to a search on FoodBlogSearch where I got my basic recipe from. My main problem was getting the consistency right and looking back now, I can also tell you that the Brisbane weather might have a little bit to do with it as well.

The truffles were rolled over two sessions. The night that I made the mixtures Karl and Matthew came over for a little gathering. We tasted one of Karl’s beers that he brought with him. By far the best tasting beer I have ever had, if I could get a case of it I would. We sampled different liqueurs and port with ice-cream and then we rolled truffles and we rolled till the mixture warmed up too much and the table warmed up as well.

When it comes to crushing candy canes, let me tell you the following things do not work; using the end of a rolling pin and a soufflé dish as a make do mortar and pestle, placing them in a plastic bag and whacking them with a rolling pin or placing the bag between chopping boards and whacking the top board, trying to grate them. I ended up chop, chop, chopping the candy canes till I had the pieces reasonably small enough to coat the truffles in. My “fun” crushing the candy canes resulted in Matthew buying me a nice beastly mortar and pestle for Christmas 🙂 What lovely brothers I have.

The next truffle rolling session was the day that we picked Erica and Ash up from the airport. Having learnt our lessons we knew how to roll them now and Mum’s house has air-con which made it a bit easier to roll them 😀

The following photos were taken by Mum.
candy canes!
Helen making truffles
Rolling truffles
and this is how we roll
roll

They were a lot of hard work but oh my they were pretty tasty and they do look pretty!
Christmas Truffles

FYI for the future though. Crushed candy canes absorb moisture from anything and turn into liquid candy canes. Eat them shortly after making them.

I’m thinking that this year truffles will be made for winter celebrations not Christmas!

Also you can read Karl’s account of the truffle adventure here – Food, truffles, sausages and possums

And speaking of Candy Canes, here are photos of the girls with candy canes they were given by the Station Master at Albion train station. Anna, the girls and I went into the city before Christmas to do some shopping and check out my office – the idea was to look at the view but I think they had more fun having their height and weight measured by one of the nurses who is my work mum #1 (I have two work mums at work :D) and listening to everyone gush at how cute they were. 😀
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Wedding Morning Tea Cakes

Wedding Morning Tea Cakes

One of the ladies in Mum’s staffroom is getting married this weekend, so I made some suitably simply elegant cupcakes for the staffroom morning tea.

The chocolate cake recipe is from The Australian Woman’s Weekly cupcakes book

Double Chocolate Mud Cake
60g dark chocolate coarsely chopped
160ml water
90g butter, softened
220g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
100g SR flour
2 tbsp cocoa
40g almond meal

Preheat oven to 170°C (150°C fan forced). Line a standard 12 hole muffin tin with patty pans.
In a double boiler melt the chocolate in the water, stirring till smooth. Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients and the chocolate mixture, stirring till smooth. That is it. Then it is just a matter of dividing the mixture evenly between the 12 pans (I used a pastry bag as the mixture is quite runny) and cook for about 20 minutes.

Once they are cooled it is time to decorate.
I warmed some blackberry jam to use as the “glue” and coloured the white fondant to a very pale pink. On a well dusted silicone mat, I rolled the fondant out nice and thin, then pressed a Fiskars Texture Plate into the fondant to make it “all pretty” on top.

Place in a container and every so often open the lid a fraction and inhale the chocolate. Or you could just eat one 🙂