Last year’s Easter eggs hunt

The little ones and their Easter eggs find

Time flies, it’s almost Easter time again! Where did the year go? Memories of last year’s Easter egg hunt are still fresh in my thoughts but it is time for the next egg hunt again. To my daughter, life is moving forward and wanting the years to roll by so quickly while I am hanging on to every bit of her childhood — carefree days under the sun hunting for Easter eggs, blowing dandelion seeds away, climbing trees, going back and forth at the slide, running around with the other kids and many more.

One of my little girl’s favorite time of the year is Easter and the delightful event of Easter egg hunt. It is something that has become a tradition with us having started this on the first Easter when she could walk. At that time, the eggs were hidden in the confines of our small back garden.

Last year, we organized the Easter egg hunt with the involvement of children in our neighborhood. We were blessed with the perfect Easter weather — warm and sunny and the kids really had so much fun searching for the eggs hidden in the grass and other not so obvious places. I baked cupcakes while the other moms brought in the refreshments.

One more week to go and it will be the same frenzied activity again. My daughter can hardly wait…

On to the egg hunt

Searching the grass and weeds for the hidden eggs

Feeling fulfilled with every find

Happy with every sighting of an egg hidden in the grass

Weather couldn't be any better than this for the egg hunt

Maybe there are more eggs here...

Counting the egg finds

"Could we eat first?"

Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes

Eating time after the hard work

More egg search

The parents minus me the photographer

Posing for mom

Childhood friendship

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

Baking my own bread

We’re having a very stormy weather today. Just the kind of weather for staying inside the house curled up on the sofa and watching something on TV. I’m glad that today happened to be my day off to look after my little girl so I didn’t need to brave the rain and wind in going to Amsterdam.

I also have to raid the pantry and the fridge to come up with something for dinner. No, I’m not going to dare to go to the supermarket with Francesca on the bike to pick up the groceries. Today is one of those days where I need to be resourceful and inventive.

I always have a lot of stuffs in the store room which at times I completely forget to use and would need to eventually throw away because they are already past their expiry dates. Thus, today is an opportune time to check what I still have.

There is nothing more satisfying than to be able to bake one’s own bread. Baking bread is not my line as I grew up with special fondness for rice. However, I want to try this bread baking avenue this year. Last year, my challenge was on baking cakes and cookies which I have now successfully conquered.

I’ve so far tried two other bread types: the Irish soda bread which is actually very easy and does not require kneading and yeast and the no knead bread that I stumbled upon from Steamy Kitchen but that required a long wait.

The ingredients of bread are simple (flour, salt, yeast, water and sugar) but it is the trick on how to make all these simple ingredients come together especially the working of the yeast that will make or break a good bread so to speak.

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I decided that today, I’ll give bread baking a try. I searched the web for the simple bread recipe and Jamie Oliver’s version popped up. Since I have nothing but good experience when I tried his slow roasted pork shoulder, I opted to try his recipe.

Simple wholegrain bread


Here’s the link to the recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/basic-bread-recipe

His recipe though did not show the time and temperature needed so I have to guess from the thread of discussions in this link. I decided to have the temperature at 204 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit) as suggested by one of the comments and initially set the time for 20 minutes. I was a bit hesitant that maybe the inside of the bread is not yet baked so I added an extra 10 minutes to the baking time.

Hmmmm…bread just smells great and I can’t wait to have it with the potato, leeks and carrot soup which I also came up with from the raid of the fridge.

And don’t forget that creamy butter to slather the bread, yum!

Whole wheat flour


Kneading process


Setting the dough aside to rise


The dough has risen twice its size after 30 minutes


Ready for baking


My bread


Cooling the bread

My little kitchen diva

It is just not me who loves to dabble in the kitchen.  My little girl also loves trying her hands at making cookies from time to time.

The little chef

Well, starting early is not bad.  These pictures were taken almost a year ago when I started on my journey into the baking world.  I took my little girl with me on this amazing exploration of the baking dimension and we both had a great time learning the ropes of the trade.  We started with simple ready-mix cookies where the only add-on were water and the garnishing.  Now, we’re baking real cookies…

Home-baked goodies as Christmas presents

Chocolate peanut squares, lemon bars, Oreo truffles (Cream cheese brownies still chilling in the fridge)

In this day and age when a lot of things can just be bought all packed and wrapped from the shops, receiving presents which have been a labor of love is better appreciated.  I told hubby that I will do away with sending out Christmas cards this year because I just don’t find them very personal anymore.

Since the start of this year, I’ve been experimenting a lot in the baking department and I can proudly say that I’ve reached my set goal of bringing my baking skills to the next level.

In between the busy days this week wrapping up many stuffs at work before the Christmas holidays, I managed to squeeze in some baking.  I tried new recipes (lemon bars, oreo truffles, cream cheese brownies, chocolate peanut squares) and they all turned out well so despite being dead tired after the marathon baking, I was pretty much satisfied.

Home-baked Christmas presents

Wrapped in nice boxes, we distributed our Christmas presents to the neighbors on Tuesday evening.  Francesca enjoyed handing out the presents and saying, “Merry Christmas”.  We received a lot of emails the day after from the neighbors who found the goodies to be so yummy and the gesture to be so sweet and heartwarming.

Hubby and I also brought some of these goodies to share with colleagues who also gave the same thumbs-up sign as our neighbors.

For more information on the recipes, here are the links:

http://www.joyofbaking.com/barsandsquares/CreamCheeseBrownies.html

http://www.joyofbaking.com/barsandsquares/ChocolatePeanutSquares.html

http://www.joyofbaking.com/LemonBars.html

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/easy-oreo-truffles-95085.aspx

Magic in the middle cookies

Magic in the middle cookies

My favorite cookies to bake as of late…has also become very popular with friends and colleagues.

Here’s the link to the recipe: http://asweeterthing.com/2011/11/17/magic-in-the-middle-cookies/

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