Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy CNY of The Rooster 2017

I'm totally immersed in K-drama ... so CNY baking? Hmn ... it has taken the backseat. It's hardly a priority for me this year. Still, I had to make some. I only made 3 types this year.

Nastar pineapple cookies, salted egg cookies and also sesame seed cookies. 

I reprised the recipes I used last year since I was rather happy with how the cookies turned out. For sesame cookies, I used Wen's Delight's recipe, but I reduced the sugar to 70g .... so the cookies turned out not sweet, yet quite crunchy and textural and nutty in flavour. Not bad actually. My mom liked them.  

Since I had a supply of durian this year, I decided to make a non-baked durian cheesecake. I was really happy with it because it was a hit with my relatives. The cake was so, so satisfying as everyone loved the creamy and rich and flavourful cake! 

The best item for me this year - the non-baked durian cheesecake.

This was also a recipe from Wen's Delight. However, I only used 1 bar of 250g cream cheese to make a smaller cake, and had to adjust the recipe accordingly. Consequently, this is my measurement for the ingredients :
  • 250g durian
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
I removed the durian flesh off the seeds, and put them in a food processor to grind. Then I cooked them with 1 Tbsp of sugar. The rest of the ingredients included : 
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 40g sugar
  • 250g durian
  • 250 whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • less than 1 tbsp of gelatin
  • 2.5 Tbsp water 
At the last minute, I could not buy Digestive biscuits so I bought Oreos instead. There were about 1.7 packets with 35g of melted butter, and pressed in a baking tin. Oreos tasted fine with the durian cake as well.

The cheese layer was really creamy, which made the cake difficult to serve; but the taste was really superb. Love it and will make it again when I get my hands on more durian. :))

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Homemade Pickled Radish

After coming back from Japan, one of the things I missed was the tsukemono - pickled vegetables. With our meals, we often had pickled radish served alongside. Hence, back here in Kuching, I thought I'd try to make my own version of pickled radish.

Homemade Pickles  

Pickled Radish 

Because it was my first experiment with the recipe, I used 1 medium-length radish. I peeled it and sliced it thinly, using a mandoline. Then I added in 1 Tbsp of salt to the sliced radish to soften it. Meanwhile, I had to cook equal parts of water, sugar and vinegar in a pot till it boiled. For a radish this length, I only needed about 1/3 cup of water, sugar and vinegar. After 2 hours, I squeezed dry the radish and placed it in a pickling jar before adding the cooked and cooled water-sugar-vinegar concoction. I placed it in the fridge and only after 3 days did the flavour develop and became more mature. I found the pickle to very crunchy and a very refreshing palate cleanser. Suffice to say that I liked the pickles a lot. Sil too, loved the pickles. Reminded her of Korea, she said. Lol.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Road Trip

We spent the night at my friend S' villa. As soon as morning came, we got ready to head back to the city. I got dressed and then headed outside the villa. I exclaimed when I saw the scenic mountains far in the distance. My immediate response was to quickly take out my iPhone 5s to capture the scene before me.

However, somehow I found myself to be inside a bus. My friend was sitting beside me. But I could not recall who she was. I pressed my phone against the window panels and started snapping photos ... but I was frustrated because the moving bus made it difficult to take good photos.

Then came to guys and they plopped into the seats in front of us. They were Kim Young Kwang and Song Joong Ki. Jeez, we must have known each other for we were talking like old friends. They offered the iPhones on selfie sticks and offered to take wefies to remember the trip by ....

The bus cruised along ... and I woke up from my sleep. So much for seing Kim Yong Kwang and Song Joong Ki! :P

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Not-so-important Subject 2016/2017

I teach a not-so-important subject in school.

For the students, it is not so important because it is largely a non-exam subject. Essentially, the students need to sit for major exams every semester for their core subjects. But the exam for my not-so-important subject will only be administered 18 months after the students have commenced their course. Therefore, my not-so-important subject is one that they have to worry about the least.

For the school, the results of my not-so-important subject does not affect it in any way. It has no impact on the school's performance or its ranking in the district, state nor country. So the school authorities do not actually pay much attention to my not-so-important panel. Last year, they had even forgotten to apply for financial grants on our behalf, resulting in us having RM0 to run our not-so-important panel throughout 2016. 

For me, I have been able to teach at a very leisurely pace. I take my time teaching the students different skills. I have time to try out various teaching and learning strategies. I spend time organising pair and group activities, I can even have the students play some games. Generally, I want to drive in to the students that my not-so-important subject is easy and fun and they should just enjoy it. 

Though my subject was not-so-important, I did not want to be seen as a non-performing teacher. Whether I liked it or not, the students' results reflected my ability as a teacher. Honestly, I did feel a certain amount of pressure last year. It was because I was teaching 3 out of 5 classes last year, with my kids making about half of the entire population.

Getting the students to perform meant that I had to give them exam drills. So I would pick up pace after the first 8 months. It was nonetheless easier said than done. Exam drills were boring and bothersome. Essay writing drew a chorus of moans and groans from around the classroom. Reading comprehension was snooze time for some. If the students had enjoyed my not-so-important subject at first, they soon disliked it. Who in their right frame of minds would enjoy doing the same types of exercises over and over? 

So I had to motivate. Sometimes, I coaxed them. Occasionally, I coerced. I also had to scold and threaten. It appeared that I was waging a losing battle towards year-end as I could see the students' exasperation and I could see that they were giving up. 

Come exam day and it was even more nerve-wrecking! I had waited for them anxiously outside the hall ... and once they came out, they had given me feedback of all kinds ...

"Teacher, how do you spell ... ?"
"Teacher, should I have made comparison instead of describing the changes .... "
"Teacher, does Figure 1 affect Figure 2 or the other way round?"
"Teacher, I have no idea what to write ... "

Aargh! I made a mental note to brace for the worst.

Yesterday, the results of my not-so-important subject was released. I did not anticipate. I was expecting somewhat the worst. However, the results did surprise me because everyone in fact had done quite well. In one class, all the students scored the highest grades with one girl getting a distinction. I was over the moon. In my poorer classes, in fact, there was a significant group that had gotten merits and passes. Only 2 did not make the grade. 

Phew! I was sure glad that the kids had done well. It was a great start to my school year. I am only teaching 1 class out of the 5 this year. And that made it so much easier for me to motivate and coax and coerce and scold and threaten the 21 kids I have in my classroom. They had better watch out for I am more determined than ever to ensure that they would score. :))


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