Vanilla Butter Cake

Vanilla butter cake

Vanilla butter cake

Assalamualaikum and a very good evening to everyone out there. I have being neglecting my blog for quite sometimes now… allowing it to collect dust especially in this part of the world hehehe. Busy? Well.. you can say that… A lot had happened since my last entry and couple of new places has been explored. Since this is my first entry after a very long pause, I think I’ll take it easy… nothing serious… just a brief updates of what had happened for the last 5 months.
My sister in law and her husband came and stayed with us for a month at the end of November and the kids loved it. What not to love especially when the auntie did almost everything for them hehehe. My SIL loves Oman and she said she doesn’t mind staying here and did offer to come and stay with the kids if our Hajj trip is conformed. Insyaallah, if Allah sent us the invitation for Hajj this year, she can come and stay here with the kids.
End December, our friend that we had not meet for almost 20 years came and visit us from London. Our kids and their kids became friends almost instantly… it was great to meet Kazan and his family. We knew Kazan back in 1987 during our English course in Bukit Sekilau and  A levels time in MSMKL in Shamelin Perkasa. It was nice to be able to catch up with old friend.
Last February, our dear family friend, Mady, Zura and their 3 beautiful daughters came to visit us from Kuwait. We did go and see couple of places in Oman and we had a really good time together, well… minus the 2 days when baby Zahra had a high fever hehehe. For all these, we thank Allah for blessing us with great family and beautiful friends, Alhamdulillah.
Before we look at the recipe, I just want to share with you guys 2 photos that I took while accompanying my other half for golf yesterday…
Golfing with Dishdasha... unique!

Golfing with Dishdasha… unique!

This... brought a smile to my face.

This… brought a smile to my face.

Okay… almost there. I took this recipe from Azie Kitchen and I really love the texture of the cake… super soft and melt in your mouth. Do give a try and see what I mean.
Moist and fluffy texture

Moist and fluffy texture

Ingredient:
230 g soft butter  
4 egg yolks (B size)
4 egg whites (B size)
50 g caster sugar
150 g caster sugar
200 g self raising flour – sift
60 ml fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
....

….

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease  8×8″ pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter and 150 g caster sugar till light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and beat till combine.
  3. Add egg yolk one at a time, beating until just combined between additions.
  4. Fold in sifted flour and milk in two batches.
  5. In another bowl, whisk egg white till foamy.. slowly add in 50 g of caster sugar a little at a time and whisk till soft peak.
  6. Fold in the egg white into the cake batter in 3 batches. Fold until well combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 mins @ 170 C.
The whole house smells the vanilla... heaven

The whole house smells the vanilla… heaven

Cream Puffs

Cream puff

A profiterole, cream puff or choux à la crème

Assalamualaikum and a very good evening to all. Hope life is treating everyone good.

Oman celebrated its 43rd National day last Monday 18th November but the official holiday for the National day will be on this coming Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th November. I am looking forward to this long weekend. No concrete plan has been made but insyaallah we will go somewhere. Oman is too beautiful to be left unexplored furthermore we are receiving guest this Wednesday, the more reason to go out in the sun hehehe.

We have been in Muscat since 28th August and we have been to a couple of places that I find it to be breathtaking. Oman has a very unique landscape; rocky mountains, sandy dunes, amazing beaches and not to forget natural wadis…. what is there not to love!

Amazing scenery from Muscat to Bimmah sinkhole

Amazing scenery from Muscat to Bimmah sinkhole

The first trip that we took was to the Bimmah sink hole and Wadi Al Shab during the eid holidays. Shukri and Anis with their 3 girls came over from Kuwait to spend 5 days in Muscat knowing that we just moved in and eid would be lonely without family and close friends. We really appreciate them coming all the way from Kuwait to our humble home just to keep us company. On the second day of eid holiday we went to Bimmah Sinkhole. Bimmah Sinkhole is located in the fenced and toilet-equipped Hawiyat Najm Park. It is approximately 1.5 hrs drive from Muscat.

Bimmah Sinkhole

Bimmah Sinkhole

Bimmah sinkhole occurred naturally due to limestone erosion. This sinkhole is said to be connected to the sea through an underground tunnel which then explain the unique colour of the water. We have no way of confirming this but my girls did taste the water and they said it taste slightly salted. So, maybe it is true that this sinkhole is connected to the sea which is one or two km away. You can actually swim here, so by all means, please bring your swimming costume people!

The water is so inviting

The water is so inviting

After spending about 1 hour here, we proceed to our next destination, Wadi Shab. Wadi Shab is approximately 20 km from Bimmah Sinkhole but since our GPS gave a weird location of this wadi, we kind of wonder off road for a while and go up a mountain hehehe. We then called a friend and she told us that this wadi so near to the road and should you already go up the mountain, you are definitely lost. Almost gave up, we decided to just proceed to Sur and then, suddenly the signboard appeared… what a relieve! It is just by the roadside…. well, at least some part of it. We parked our car and took a boat to the other side. The guy on the boat told us that you need to walk about 1 hour to the waterfall. Since we have children and baby with us, we decided to just walk to the first pool so that the kids could have a dip. The other tourist told us that it is just a 10 minutes walk but the the kids, not suitable foot ware and the heat factor, I swear that it took us almost 20 minutes to the pool. Thank God that the kids had fun in the water.

Wadi Shab

Wadi Shab

wadishab1

Walking to the first pool…tiring

After Wadi Shab, we drove to Sur for a late lunch and then headed home to Muscat. It was a long day but the scenery was to die for. In the next posting I’ll tell you our next adventure after the sinkhole and Wadi Shab, stay tune!

Okay, now we come to the new recipe for today, cream puff. I seriously do not remember where I got the recipe from but I Have been using this recepi since I first moved to Kuwait. Happy baking guys!

cream puff with vanilla pastry cream

Cream puff with vanilla pastry cream

Ingredient:

Choux Pastry:

  • 1 cup  all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 large egg, lightly beaten

Pastry Cream:

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 large yolks – beaten
  • 3/4 cup  granulated sugar (you can reduce this if you do not fancy a sweet pastry cream)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Choux Pastry:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl sift together flour,sugar and salt.
  3. Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. (Make sure that the butter melts before the water boils to reduce the amount of evaporation.)
  4.  Remove from heat and with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined.
  5. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball
  6. Transfer the dough to your electric mixer and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough. Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste.
  7. Spoon or pipe 24 small mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees C. Continue to bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Turn the oven off and with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells completely cool.
  9. When the shells are cool, either split and fill them with the pastry cream, or use a pastry bag to pipe the pastry cream into the shells.

 

Pastry Cream:

  1. Place the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once melted add sugar, salt and corn flour. Mix well.
  2. Add milk and cook until just about to boil.
  3. Add the egg slowly, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Cook for another 2 minutes or until the mixture become thick.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until ready to use.
Can be refrigerate for 2-3 days

Can be refrigerated for 2-3 days

New Place we call Home

Assalamualaikum and a very good evening to everyone out there. Alhamdulillah, all praise to Allah swt  for all his blessings and lessons that has been sent my way. Truly, we as human most of the time always forget to thank Allah for his countless blessings that he has bestowed upon us and always complaint when been tested. As human we need to remember that all the tests that has been sent to us are ways and means to increase our iman and taqwa towards Him. May Allah swt grant us patience whenever we are faced with crisis. Sound serious eh, hehehe well this is self reminder… just to remind myself not jump whenever “not so good thing” happens. Sabar sabar sabar.

Okay… what is it that I’m suppose to write?? Oh… my new home. Well… it has been 2 months since we first moved in into our new home in Madinat Sultan Qaboos (MQ) area. Alhamdulillah, most of the things are already in order except for few minor things that still need to be done. I am so glad that “house hunting” episode is done.

We live in a compound area consist of 22 villas

We live in a compound

Seriously, finding a suitable house here was really a challenge for me. Don’t remember it been so difficult when we first moved to Kuwait but then again, my other half did all the house hunting for us back then hehehe. Honestly after countless house viewing done, I never thought that we would be able to find one, especially with all of our “requirements”.

Our private patio that leads to the swimming area

Our private patio that leads to the swimming area

Shared swimming pool

Shared swimming pool

When we moved from Kuwait, we brought all our stuff that has been accumulated for 5 years. Banyak mana? Well, it fits the whole of 40 foot container… just imagine trying to find a house that can fit all those stuff. Don’t get me wrong…. there are tons of houses here in Muscat but every house that we viewed, there bound to be something that was  not right, either the kitchen cant fit our cooker, the bedroom is small and has no wardrobe, the parking is too narrow or the ceiling is too low hehehe. Another thing that I was struggling with was  because all of the houses here are multi level and I’m so used to single floor apartment while we were in Kuwait. Well, you can’t get everything,right. So if you ask me whether I manage to get single level house, then the answer is a big NO. Hehehe guess what…. my new house has 4 levels! Believe it or not, we even has a elevator in the house kahkahkah.

Living area

Living area

This new house has 5 bedrooms; all with attached bathroom. Just imagine how many bathrooms I need to clean in a month, not counting another 2 guest toilets. Can I request for a maid???? hehehe. Aina and Nurin managed to get approval from their father for personal room and they occupy the top floor. Sofea, Jessy and Haqeem  is sharing a room on the same level as the master bedroom. The most difficult thing for me to get use to is to wake everybody up everyday because before this I just need to walk from one end to another and now I need to walk up and down… I hate it! Since I hate it so much climbing the stairs, my other half does all the “waking up” every morning and all  I need to do is go down and prepare breakfast.

Okay…. let me just give a brief description about the area that we are staying now. Madinat Sultan Qaboos (MQ) is a suburb of Muscat, the capital of Sultanate of Oman.  It is situated less than one kilometer from the sea and is well connected to the rest of the city by the country main highways; Sultan Qaboos Street and Muscat Expressway. MQ is a very mature residential area with a small commercial area where you can find proper restaurant, fast food outlet, supermarket, bank, pharmacy, bookstores, laundry and hangout place such as Costa Coffee and Starbuks. My house is actually a walking distance to this commercial area which I find it very convenient. The distance to the school is also very reasonable…normally it takes me about 10 minutes to drive the kids to school every morning. This is important as 3 out of 5 days, kids have clubs which requires me to make two trips to the school in the afternoon and should the driving time and the distance is somewhat “crazy”, it could easily turn this mum into a monster and believe me, nobody wants a monster mum hehehe.

Have a great weekend people!

Istanbul Trip Part4

Assalamualaikum and Salam Maal Hijrah buat semua. كل عام و انتم بخير

Day 4: Monday, 25th February 2013

Everyone was looking forward to this day… Grand Bazaar time!

On day 4 of the trip, our family decided to make a short trip to Basilica Cistern whereas the other 2 families went straight to Grand Bazaar. Basilica Cistern is located near the Sultan Ahmet Square. It is an ancient cistern that lie beneath city of Istanbul which act as a reservoir for water storage for the Great Palace.

Inside the Basilica Cistern

Inside the Basilica Cistern

More columns

More columns

There are 336 columns in the cistern and if you walked to the far left-hand corner of the cistern, you will see 2 Medusa heads. Both heads are used as a based column with one positioned upside down and the other tilted to the side. The reason why they are placed in such a way remain mystery to this very day. It is an awesome place to visit and definitely a must visit place in Istanbul.

Another Medusa Head

Medusa Head

Medusa head

Another Medusa head

After Basilica Cistern we proceed to the Grand Bazaar via tram. Grand Bazaar opens daily except on Sunday from 9:00 to 19:00. By the time we reached Grand Bazaar it was almost noon and it was packed with people.

Shops outside Grand Bazaar

Shops outside Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered bazaar in the world. The bazaar is truly huge and finding your way out of this bazaar maze is really a challenge especially if you don’t pay attention to where you’re going hehehe . If I’m not mistaken there are 5 major gates to the Grand Bazaar and depending on which gate you take it will bring you to different section of the bazaar. The shops here are more or less are group together into sections, depending on what are they selling, for example leather goods, ceramic and souvenirs, handbags, carpets, antiques, clothes and so on.

Jewellery shops inside the bazaar

Jewellery shops inside the bazaar

Souviner shops

Souvenir shops

Ceramic and glass lamp shades

Ceramic and glass lamp shades

What did we buy there? Hahaha… lots of stuff. As always… we would walk around (look see look see hehehe) and find out what are there to buy and then check out their prices. Once we have establish the baseline then only we start  bargaining for the items. In order to make a good deal you have to be willing to invest your time in finding a shop that willing to accept your offer… which we were not that willing to do so simply because we traveled with 5 kids and they easily get bored and stress. Having said that, we were quite happy with the prices that we got. Okay… things that we bought at the Grand Bazaar were some ceramic plates, fridge magnet, t-shits, clothes and last but not least… leather jackets. Leather jackets here are so cheap and they do offer an alteration service as long as you are willing to wait for half an hour. If you must know…my other half is a leather jacket maniac and he loves the army type of design and guess what… he found that very design there… so apa lagi beli lah hehehe and the fact that the shop owner was able to alter the jacket hand for him, it really made his day. Senyum sampai ke telinga muahahaha.

After all those shopping… we stop at one of the kebab shop and had our late lunch and….. I finally found a kebab that almost resemble the bebek kebab from Sheffield…. at last sampai jugak hajat hehehe. By the time we finished lunch, the kids started to acting up so we decided to send them back to the hotel and then make a quick visit to Hagia Sophia.

Sultanet Ahmet Square

Sultanet Ahmet Square

Hagia Sofia from a distance

Hagia Sofia from a distance

Hagia Sofia view from Sultanet Ahmad Square

Hagia Sofia view from Sultanet Ahmad Square

That evening we went to street and revisit the Spice Bazaar.

Street Market

Street Market

Tersusuk keletihan hehehe

Terduduk keletihan hehehe

The ladies were trying leather gloves in one of the shops near Spice Bazaar

The ladies were trying leather gloves in one of the shops near Spice Bazaar

The guys with their brand new leather jackets (from Grand Bazaar)and trying a leather beret.

The guys with their brand new leather jackets (from Grand Bazaar) and trying a leather beret.

Churros

My humble churros

My humble churros

Assalamualaikum and good evening everyone. It is 18:30 here in Muscat and guess what… it is WEEKEND! I am so glad that weekend has finally decided to drop by hehehe. This morning I was fortunate enough to be able to join a trip to Amouage Factory organized by Perwakilan Muscat.

YBhg. Professor Madya Datin Dr. Musrifah Sapardi

YBhg. Professor Madya Datin Dr. Musrifah Sapardi (Lady in Pink)

Amouage is a luxury Sultanate of Oman perfume established in 1983 by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. The original intention was for the royal family as well as a gift from His Majesty to the county’s visitors.

Amouage

Amouage

Amouage uses traditional materials of Middle Eastern perfumery such as frankincense and myrrh. Besides that they uses other type of herbs such as cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and red peppercorn.

Fran

Frankincense

Ingredients for their perfumes

Ingredients for their perfumes

Their first fragrant was Amouage Gold, intoduced in 1983 and the latest Amouage collection is FATE which was introduced this year.

FATE for Man and Woman

FATE for Man and Woman

Our tour guide explained to us about how does the pyramid structure of ingredients affected the smell of the perfumes. Lets take the example of Ciel Woman perfume. Oh… by the way Ciel means sky in French and the pronunciation is dekat2 dengan “SIAL” hehehe. Okay okay okay… if you look at the ingredients pyramid below, you can see the word “Top Notes”, “Heart Notes” and “Base Notes” at the far left corner. What does it mean? Top Notes is the scent that you get immediately upon application of a perfume and it lasted a few minutes. Heart Notes is the scent that emerges just prior to when the top notes dissipate which is about 2 to 3 minutes of apllication of the perfume. It will stay for round about 30 minutes and then the Base Notes smell will appears and it will last as long as it last hehehe. For Amouage, our tour guide said that you can smell the perfume until the next day.

Ingredients pyramid

Ingredients pyramid

All their workers are Omani.

In their factory and all their workers are Omani.

Orait folks… itu saja pelajaran kita utk kali ini, next on my list is the recipe for Churros. I dedicate this recipe to my sister Aisyah and my sister-in-law Liza because I know that they love this churros very much. This churros is easy to make and amazingly delicious to eat. I took the recipe from here.

My kids said it taste just like doughnut... just different shape

My kids said it taste just like doughnut… just different shape

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and sift in flour, stirring for 1 minute.
  2. Transfer flour mixture to bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. On low speed, add eggs; 1 at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition; spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip.
  3. Heat 4 to 5 inches oil in a large deep-fry. Holding pastry bag a few inches above the oil, squeeze out batter, snipping off 4-inch lengths with a knife or kitchen shears. Fry, flipping once, until deep golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer churros to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
  4. Roll churros in confectioners’ sugar.

مع السلامة Kuwait, أهلاً و سهلاً Oman

Picture in front of the house before leaving for airport

Bye bye Kuwait…this picture was taken in front of the house before leaving for airport

Assalamualaikum and a very good day to everyone. As you guys already know, couple of months back my other half decided to accept a job offer in Muscat, Oman and believe it or not, that decision made our life turned upside down within a blink of an eye hehehe. Let me tell you how it started…

Round about early May this year, my other half received a call from an agent asking whether he was opened for uprooting to Muscat. His usual answer was “If it is worth the move, I would definitely consider it” and when he told me over the phone that day, my reaction was “Just send the CV and we’ll see what happen, anyway knowing how the agents and banks in Middle-east work, you won’t be getting the letter offer sooner than Dec”… confident tu hehehe. So, the bank send his ticket for the interview in Muscat and guess what… after 20 mins of interview the Deputy CEO made him an offer! Wow! That’s new to us. Luckily he didn’t say YES immediately hehehe.

A week after the interview, the letter offer came, I was speechless. I was happy that he got an incredible offer but at the same time I’m not sure I want to move from Kuwait. Well… Kuwait has been good to us and I’m kind of comfortable with everything… change is hard even though I always say that “Change is good” when I was conducting the Six Sigma Training but when it came to this, I was shattered. There  were a lot to consider and I don’t know if I want to even consider moving hehehe. We basically sat on the offer for almost 2 weeks and finally we said YES and told them that we will be joining on second week of September considering we already book our 5 weeks holiday to Malaysia. We being told that they need to submit my other half’s info to their Central Bank (CBO)for approval (for certain job positions and management levels, banks is required to send the candidate name for checking) and he is not to tender his resignation until the visa is given.

The CBO approval and visa came 2 weeks after that and I started to panic because mashaAllah… there were still a lot things that we were not sure of and the amount of research that need to be done was tremendous. Schooling was the top of my list, so we decided to make a trip to Muscat to find any school that is willing to accept our kids considering most school already closed their entry applications in January or February but alhamdulillah we managed to tentatively register our kids at Muscat International School (MIS).

My biggest concern was for my eldest daughter Aina because last academic year she did her AS exam using Cambridge exam board (CIE) where else here in Muscat, all schools do Edexcell exam board and this two board cannot be interchangeable. Since AS is the first level A-Level, she can not switch to Edexcell board for A2 exam but the MIS Principal said that his teacher can help Aina to bridge the gap between CIE and Edexcell syllabus. We were happy that it can be done. The girls and my boy will need to do an entrance test sometimes before July and we did come again end of June for the said test.

Shangri-la Muscat... who can resist this beautiful scenery

We stayed at Shangri-la Muscat when we came for entrance test .. who can resist this beautiful scenery

Month of June and July was very busy and stressful … lots of things to do for the move… do we sell both cars, when to sell the cars, what about furniture, do we need to buy more stuff, what about our cat, how to export the cat, transfer certificate and transcript from school and many more… eiss… countess things to do and on top of that I need to start planning for our trip back to Malaysia. If it wasn’t because of my brother getting married after eid, we would have cancelled our trip to Malaysia. Due to a lot of other issues, we cut short our holiday from 5 weeks to just 3 weeks, that means right after the wedding, we straight away make our way back to Kuwait.

Anyway… 3 days before we fly back to Msia, the packer came and did half of the packing and another half of the packing is to be done after we get back from Msia. Why? Well, originally we were supposed to have about 10 days after our holidays till the time for us to fly to Oman designated for packing, shopping and get together with friends but due to the request from the bank to report duty earlier, we only have 5 days from arrival date from Msia to departure date to Oman. To tell you the truth, I was so stress during those months that my BP shoot sky high… every week I had to make  a trip to my cardiologist.

Packing....

Packing….

We decide to bring one of our car

We decided to bring one of our cars

Our holidays in Malaysia was just “touch and go” kind of thing, do not have enough time to shop, meet family and friend and the biggest disappointment for the kids were unable to “makan” all the food in their list hihihi.

With brothers, sister and dearest mum on Eid 2013

With brothers, sister and dearest mum on Eid 2013

With the newly wed couple

With the newly wed couple

At least my boy was able to play in the rain di petang raya

At least my boy was able to play in the rain di petang raya

Having said all the stressful things that affected us during these months, we were also kind of looking forward to start new chapter of our life in beautiful Oman. My other half was so excited to embark into the new beginning of his career and I pray that Allah make it easy for him and us here in Muscat.

We arrived in Oman on 28th August at midnight and the bank representative brought us to the hotel that we suppose to call home for the next 4 weeks. Since we are a family of 7, they put us into 2 units of 1 bedroom suite, every unit has 1 living area, 1 bathroom and a small kitchen, alhamdulillah it was more than enough for us. My other half went for work the same morning and the kids started school the following Sunday.

Living area connecting to the other suite

Living area connecting to the other suite

After 2 months here in Muscat, I’m still trying to adapt to this new environment and believe it or not I do miss Kuwait dearly especially friends that we left behind….

Last day in Kuwait with people you care (picture courtesy from Zura/Mady(

Last day in Kuwait with people we care a lot (picture courtesy from Zura/Mady)

Istanbul Trip Part3

Day 3: Sunday, 24th Feb 2013

Bosphorus tour…

There are several tour operators that operate short Bosphorus cruises that can take you way up to the Bosphorus and back.  However I would advice you to take a regular Ferry, operates by the government. It is not fancy but it is acceptable and it is cheap. Ticket cost is 25 TL for a return trip. The ferries to the Bosphorus leave from Eminonu.

Walking from tram station to the ferry station

Bosphorus Walking from tram station to the ferry station

On that particular day, we left the hotel around 09:30 (of course after breakfast!) and we took tram straight to Eminonu station and then we bought the ticket at the ferry terminal. We took the 10:35am departure.

Bosphorus Ferry Pier

Bosphorus Ferry Pier

All ready to board the ferry

All ready to board the ferry

The ferry...

The ferry…

Since we were travelling in a large group, we decided to board the ferry about half hour earlier to ensure that we get a good seat for everybody on the top deck.  It was a sunny day but still freezing and everyone had their gloves on.

Upper deck of the ferry

Upper deck of the ferry

Scenery from the ferry

Scenery from the ferry

Cantik...

Cantik…

The journey from Eminonu to Anadolu Kavağı took about 1 1/2 hours. The scenery was amazing and it remind me of Amsterdam.

Beautiful houses macam kat Amsterdam

Beautiful houses macam kat Amsterdam

And another one....

And another one….

Half way through the journey we decided to go down to the middle deck as it was too cold for the kids hehehe.

Freezing....

Freezing….

We reached Anadolu Kavağı at about noon  time and we were given 3 hours to roam around and have lunch and by 15:00 the ferry will be back to pick us up. The weather at Anadolu Kavaği was sunny but cold and its terminal was covered with fog…

Anadolu Kavağı is a fishing village and lunch there is all about seafood. We did try a fish sandwich there and it was amazing but it would be better if we had a green chili with us hahaha (melayu.. mana boleh tak pedas).

Shop where we bought fish kebab

Shop where we bought fish kebab

Besides the seafood, we also had waffle and ice cream and they were absolutely yummy. If you do not fancy seafood, there is one small shop near the mosque that sells chicken kebab… we did try the kebab too as our kids do not really fancy seafood and it was good.

Here… the prices of the souvenirs are way cheaper than the shops in Istanbul… but the trick is you have to carry them around and into the ferry. I did buy a couple of small souvenirs that were easily being carried by my troop… this is one of the advantage of having 5 kids hehehe.

souvenir shop...

souvenir shop…

Waffle and ice cream shops

Waffle and ice cream shops

Waffle and ice cream time

Waffle and ice cream time

There was nothing much to see here unless you willing to climb up the hill to Yoros Castle which we didn’t as we have one pregnant lady in the group (hahaha sebenarnya malas). Yoros Castle sits on a hill surrounded by steep bluffs overlooking the Bosphorous… it would be nice to see the scenery from up there but tak sanggup la nak naik…

So… by 14:45 we were already at the jetty waiting for the ferry and this time we immediately sit in the middle deck and I think everyone doze off immediately after the ferry left the jetty.

The jetty

The jetty

We reached Eminonu round about 16:30 and we proceed to Taksim Square  and Istiklal Street. The street lays between Taksim Square till the “Tunel” area.

Entrance to the tunnel

Entrance to the tunnel

The train

The train

Taksim Square

Taksim Square

Around Taksim Square

Around Taksim Square

Cut flowers at Taksim Square

Cut flowers at Taksim Square

The street is pedestranized and only a  historical tram is running from one end to another. You can find hundreds of shops, cafes and restaurants.

Istiklal Street

Istiklal Street

The Tram

The Tram

There were more than a dozen doner kebab places for you to choose from and my initial reaction was… ” one of these shops can definately end my search for my perfect doner kebab!”… unfortunately none meet my standard, so the search for Bebek Kebab continues…. We walked from Taksim Square right to the Tunnel Area and there were so many people on the street even though it was late Sunday night. We didn’t buy anything but did stop at one of the restaurant for dinner.

Waiting for dinner...dozing off already hehehe

Waiting for dinner…dozing off already hehehe

After dinner we took the one stop train back to Karaköy and from there we walked on the Galata Bridge to Eminonu.

Walking on Galata Bridge. Don't be fooled by the smile sebenarnya dah nak nangis sebab sakit kaki tu hehehe

Walking on Galata Bridge. Don’t be fooled by the smile sebenarnya dah nak nangis sebab sakit kaki tu hehehe

From there we took the tram back to the hotel. It was a long day for everyone especially the little ones but it was surely a good day.

Istanbul Trip Part2

Assalamualaikum, how is everyone? Hope that you guys had a good Ramadan and Syawal. As for us the last 3 months were too hectic to describe….why? My other half got a job offer in Muscat,Oman and there were soo much issues that need to be address. Well… I’m currently in the city of Muscat and I’ll promise to write all about our “crazy” move maybe in the next one or two post. Meanwhile please enjoy our 2nd day tour of Istanbul. Catch you guys later.

Day two: Saturday 23 Feb 2013

Breakfast room Faros Hotel Serkici

Breakfast room Faros Hotel Serkici

On day two, everyone was eager to start our tour so by 7:30 everyone was already at the breakfast table. The hotel’s breakfast was available from 7 am to 10:30 am, there were lots of fresh fruits, variety of bread, jams and cheese to choose from. Our kids loved it and it kept us full till late afternoon.

Among other things on breakfast menu

Among other things on breakfast menu

Variety of homemade jams on the table

Variety of homemade jams on the table

Cheese anyone?

Cheese anyone?

By the time we left hotel that morning, it was already 9:30, the temperature was still surrounding 11C and rain was forecast for that day. Our first destination was Topkapi Palace which was a walking distance from the hotel. Most people enter the palace through the Imperial Gate which is located behind and to the right of the Hagia Sofia. We however entered from the Archaeological Museum. The opening time for the Topkapı Palace Museum is between 09:00 – 17:00 during winter (1 October- 15 April), and 09:00 – 19:00 during summer time. They are opened everyday except on Tuesdays. The admission ticket was 25TL for  adult and children under 5 is free.

Waiting for everyone to come down...

Waiting for everyone to come down…

On the way to Topkapi Palace

On the way to Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace Museum is divided into few sections, once you passes Imperial gate (Bab-ı-Hümayün), you will find yourself in the First Courtyards of the Palace Complex where they held various ceremonies and processions. This is the only section that is free. Tickets booth to the rest of the courtyard sections is located here, just before you enter the Bab-ı-Selam or the “Gate of Salutations”.

Smile ladies...

Smile ladies…

First Coutyard

First Coutyard

The Gate of Salutations leads the visitors into the palace proper; the gate structure has two grand towers which reminds me of Disneyland gate except with arabic writing that says بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم which means “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”. As you enter the Gate of Salutation, you will be subjected to a very tight security check… your bag, jackets and other stuff need to be scanned through the scanning machine just like the one in the airport. Upon passing this gate, you will enter the Second Courtyard. Here you can find exhibit rooms showing items from the Sultan’s treasury as well as imperial clothing and the Sultan’s arms and armor. Kids will find this extremely boring but I guess they just have to “bear with it”…. well.. actually not just kids… me included after a while hehehe. Most of the exhibition rooms do not allowed camera… there was this one guy tried to be smart and took some photos using his phone, out of nowhere came a guard and requested his phone and deleted his photos…. so you can try “curi-curi” ambik gambar but if you are unlucky, the guard will catch you.

From the Second Courtyard you can enter the Third Courtyard through Gate of Felicity (Bab-üs Saadet). Third Courtyard is the heart of the palace. Here there are few exhibition hall and you can see a vast collection of works of art, jewelry, heirlooms of sentimental value and money belonging to the Ottoman dynasty.

Tak pernah jumpa, so apa lagi... snap snap la

Tak pernah jumpa, so apa lagi… snap snap la

All in all, the best part of the visit to Topkapi palace was to be able to see Prophet’s beards, his sword and also the sahabahs’ (the companions of the prophet) sword.  Something that you can’t see event if you visit Mecca and Madinah. Definitely worth going and walking through the whole complex.

By the time we came out from Topkapi Place it was pass lunch time, so we took a quick break and sat down at the Sultan Ahmet Square.  The weather was freezing, so we sat down for a hot cup of coffee and a sandwich. From there we then walked to the Blue Mosque for Dhuhr and Asr prayers.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

The ladies...

The ladies…

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

After the Asr prayers, the kids started to act up… well, who won’t… especially when the tummy is growling! So we went into the first kebab house we found hehehe. The food was good but it was nothing like the doner kebab that I was used to when I was studying in Sheffiled. Back then (in 1991 hehehe) there was this one doner kebab shop (Bebek Kebab) in High Street that we always visit after getting our monthly allowance from the JPA… The kebab was juicy and tasty.. mmmm so delicious! We did try to find it when we were in Sheffield in 2010 but it was no longer there. So, when we decided to visit Istanbul, the first thing that came to my mind was “Bebek kebab”… well, tak de rezeki lagi lah kata my other half.

Waiting for food...

Waiting for food…

Nana and Chacha enjoying their spaghetti

Nana and Chacha enjoying their spaghetti

Originally, we planned to proceed to Grand Bazaar after that early dinner but looking at the time, we know that by the time we reached there it will be almost to the closing time, so we decided to just “lepak” and take some photos of the Blue Mosque at night.

Blue Mosque at night

Blue Mosque at night

Oh.. did I tell you that the best way to travel in Istanbul is via a tram? Okay, what you need to do is just buy an Istanbul card and you dont have to worry about moving from one place to another. It’s just like London tube… just on smaller scale. One card can be used by multiple people, just swipe it over and over again and once the credit finish, just top it up. Super duper easy and the other thing I like about the tram was if you missed one, the next one is just two minutes away.

Sticky Chicken Wings

Sticky Chicken Wings

Sticky Chicken Wings

Last Thursday was the last day of school for academic year 2012/2013. As for the KG kids, their end of year party theme for this year was The Princesses and the Pirates…. so apa lagi… another visit to the Toy World Store lah hehehe. As I told you guys before, parents here are really crazy about dressing up their kids for this type of event, so if you are “I don’t care type”, then your son/daughter will be the odd one during this party. For the kid’s sake… beli je lah…anyway bukan susah pun nak cari costumes here, just siapkan duit je, macam macam boleh dapat hahaha.

Haqeem with fellow pirate

Haqeem with fellow pirate

The pirate and the princess from Malaysia hehehe

The pirate and the princess from Malaysia hehehe

The best thing about the kid party here is you do not need to crack your head to think about what to bring… the teacher will send a letter letting you know what to bring to the party and how many. This year the letter said “Please send your child with 12 small cartons of juice”… lega babe hehehe. Anyway their normal party food here tak susah, can easily be bought from the bakeries such as doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies and sandwiches… tak de lah nak kena bawak fried noodles, nasik lemak or what not…. and the quantities pun tak banyak. They even discourage the parents from bringing food other that the requested one… senang kan?

With his best friend Ahmad and a girl from KG2

With his best friend Ahmad and a girl from KG2

Okay, recipe for today is a hit in my household… kids love them a lot. I love it simply because it requires less cooking for me which means more time to do other stuff like watching TV or reading books hehehe. This recipe was taken from Modern Mrs Cleaver blog. Happy cooking!

My Sticky wings with jacket potato and saute pepper and aubergine

My Sticky wings with jacket potato and saute pepper and aubergine

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 3/4 cup Plum Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Five Spice
  • 1 tablespoon minced Ginger
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 1 bunch Scallions, finely diced white and green part
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 40 chicken wings

Methods:

  1. Place all ingredients except the chicken wings into a large bowl.
  2. Measure out 1 cup of the mixture and set aside for basting.
  3. Add the chicken and toss to coat well.
  4. Cover and place in fridge for a few hours AT LEAST but overnight is best!
  5. Preheat your oven to 190C . Add the chicken to a roasting pan and drizzle “just a bit” of the sauce over top. We want them to get sticky, not steam in sauce.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes, basting every 10-15 minutes. Toss them with tongs a few times while they bake to make sure you baste all sides evenly.
  7. Sprinkle with diced scallions and toasted sesame seeds (I skip this simply because my kids do not fancy them).

Ombre Cake

Ombre Birthday Cake for Jessy

Ombre Birthday Cake for Jessy

Month of May for us in Kuwait means exam time and you know what exam can do to parents, right? Super duper stress time and normally my BP will shoot up sky high hehehe. My eldest is taking the Cambridge International AS Level exam this year and to tell you the truth, before I came to Kuwait, I have never heard of such an exam… A level tu tahu lah since I took one long time ago. AS Level (Advance Subsidiary Level) is actually the first half of an A Level qualification. After completing the AS Level, you can proceed to take the second part of A Level which sometimes being called A2. I didn’t know that you have an option of doing your A Level in 2 parts… should I knew them when I was studying back then, I sure opt for this splitting exam option…as if it will change anything hehehe. Anyway, the normal option for the A Level is a 2 year course, where the exam will take place at the end of second year.

Ombre cake...

Ombre cake…

Okay… back to the normal story…RECIPES! This Ombre cake yang tak berapa cantik ni was baked for Jessy’s birthday last April huhuhu… dah soo terlambat but never mind, better late than never. I’m so glad that she loved it.  The Ombre cake idea was taken from Rahelblog and I bet if you look at her cake, you too would want to bake the cake. As for the cake recipe, I used the rainbow cake from Matha Stewart. For this cake, I used Swiss Buttercream Frosting…Happy Baking guys!

26 April 2013

26 April 2013

Ingredient:

  • Vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple gel food coloring

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush six 9-inch-round cake pans (or as many 9-inch cake pans as you have, reusing them as necessary) with shortening. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper; brush again and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Mix until well combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between six medium bowls. Add enough of each color of food coloring to each bowl, whisking, until desired shade is reached. Transfer each color to an individual cake pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes (working in batches if necessary).
  4. Remove cakes from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto a wire rack; re-invert and let cool completely.
  5. Decorate!

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