jeudi, avril 16, 2015

First Time Skiing in Japan (Niseko, Hokkaido, March-April 2015)

View of Mount Yotei (Ezo Fuji)

With the exception of The Young Adult who started at age 4, my kids started learning how to ski when they were barely 3. No matter where we were in the world (e.g. USA, Germany, Italy...), we would return to France to ski in the French Alps.

We did that 3 years running even when we were living in China. It was a total hassle, very tiring, not to forget expensive. One year we had a connecting flight (Paris to Lyon) cancelled, had our baggage (containing the ski suits) delayed, and missed our bus connecting Lyon airport to the ski station. Total nightmare.

Call it ski chauvinism, but Hub and the kids were convinced (still are) that there is nowhere better or more suitable for alpine skiing than the French Alps. Until the year before, the Babies were also taking ski lessons with the Ecole Française du Ski (ESF) and only decided to stop when they all had their Bronze Star. Baby Boy now talks of eventually trying for the Gold Star, probably because he realises that he could still improve his technique and enjoy skiing even more as a result.

I decided to put a stop to this skiing business for this year, for no way was I going to go through all that hassle yet again for a week of freezing cold and sore legs. Needless to say I'm hopeless at the sport, having picked it up too old and being afraid of my own shadow. I'm totally out of shape, so skiing can only be a torture for me. Yet I've reached the stage where I get really bored doing the easy runs and am too slow for the more challenging ones.

Looking at their disappointed faces, I relented and proposed a compromise: why don't we go to Korea (because air tickets are cheaper)? Hub was absolutely not motivated as he had never heard of Korea being a great place for skiing. I reminded him of the Winter Olympics, but he just had to be stubborn about it.

Then I remembered Japan. I have a friend who has been skiing there for nearly 2 decades and loved it. Hub has heard good things about Niseko too, about the powder snow, important snowfall and the efficient logistics. By the time we decided to go, the only holidays we had left was Spring/Easter Break, so we bought tickets to New Chitose for end March, booked a log cabin at Hirafu and prayed for snow.

On the way to Niseko

We arrived in Hokkaido on a sunny day and the plane (China Eastern), miraculously, was on time. We even had the time to grab a delicious pasta lunch before we settled onto our comfortable Hokkaido Resort Liner bus to Hirafu. The transfer lasted 2,5 hours and we were picked up at the Hirafu Welcome Centre by our hosts Tohsan and Kahsan of Fullnote Pension.

During peak season, it will probably not be possible for us to sleep in the log cabin which can house up to 10 people. But we were more or less the only guests there that week, it being almost the end of the Season. In fact, most restaurants were closed or closing, many shuttle buses stopped running and even the airport transfers would stop a week after our departure (or already had).

Fullnote log cabin

But we had our log cabin. It had a living area with a tiny kitchen in a corner (even a piano), a loft with tatami sleeping area and a basement with a WC, bath and 2 bedrooms. The smell of fuel was a little too strong in the basement and I worried a little about the kids suffocating in their sleep, but apparently they survived. Breakfast was included and freshly prepared each morning in the main house where there are rooms and shared toilets and showers, as well as a live jazz bar.

Shaba shabu at the pension

We rented our skis from Tohsan (the pension owner) and he also took charge of our ski lift passes. You could also order dinner from him (usually weekends) and we asked for shabu shabu on Friday evening which was done just the way we liked it. Very gentle and kind hosts who would drive us to and from the main ski lifts, while a free shuttle service from Hanazono stops just opposite Woody Note which is run by Tohsan's younger brother.

Skiing in Grand Hirafu

We had lovely weather most days except for one where it rained non-stop all day. It was amazing skiing with sunshine and under blue skies, and they were not exaggerating when they mentioned powder snow because it was the most beautiful snow I've ever skied on. The French Alps do indeed offer more exciting runs and gave meaning to alpine skiing, but one skies on volcanoes here in Niseko meaning usually wide runs that are not too steep. I also love the trees dotting the mountains in Hirafu and Hanazono, hopefully I will be good enough to paint them soon.

Love the trees

There are 4 ski villages here and we personally feel that concentrating on just Greater Hirafu (including Hanazono) is enough for a short week. The restaurant at Hanazono 308 was also our favourite though it was quite expensive. The teriyaki pork don was yummy.

Most amazing onion rings at Niseko Ramen

Food is a highlight of skiing at Niseko and it was unfortunate that so many eating places were already closed for the season when we were there. We managed to dine at Niseko Ramen next door on its last night open, at Nihonbashi in Kutchan (totally recommend) and at a few other places near our pension that were all quite good actually. I have put on 3 kgs after a week of ramen, different sweet-sauce meat-based dons, tempura, grilled fish, pizzas, fried chicken and yakitoris (because I do not eat raw fish). There is a Seico mart near our pension and we would visit it every day, lugging back choco pies, ice cream, Pokki sticks and soft drinks. You could hear HK tourists in the supermarket exclaiming over how cheap everything was, I guess at current exchange rates between the Yen and the HK Dollar, Japan must seem cheap to them.

I decided to take a break from skiing one day (also to give those poor guys a break as they were sick and tired of waiting for me on the runs) and explored lower Hirafu on foot. Love the architecture in the neighbourhood! Interesting combination of wood, concrete, lots of glass. Walked past the onsen (bath house), but the kids didn't like the idea of bathing naked with strangers (so prudish, mind you) so we didn't try it out.

Exploring lower Hirafu on foot

I wish we had discovered Niseko earlier. At the same time, the domains are not extensive enough for the rest of my family who are good skiers, but I certainly enjoy skiing there on that powder snow and very wide runs. There is also this dilemma about when best to go to Niseko; we enjoy skiing in late Winter/early Spring when the days are longer and there is usually sunshine, but it carries with it the risk of not enough snow. In Niseko, it also means fewer restaurants and buses and no live jazz at Half Note.

Finally, did I mention the heated toilet seats and integrated bidets almost everywhere in Niseko? Love it, such a clean and civilised country! Only at New Chitose airport were we reminded that we would be returning to China - starting at the check-in queue. Chinese family behind us literally stuck themselves onto our backs (instead of standing behind in the queue) when we were at the counter, and were complaining loudly when they were not served the minute the next counter was free (what was the point of sticking themselves to us actually when the queue was for 2 counters?)

Sayonara, Hokkaido, till the next time!

mercredi, avril 15, 2015

A day on Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa

Pulau Ubin, Singapore

One positive thing about being an Overseas Singaporean is the pleasure I discover playing tourist in my own country each time I return home. When I was a teenager, I thought that it would be really cool to travel around the world and stay on my own. I still think it great, but I also look forward to seeing my parents in our old flat and getting back into "the routine" once I'm back on the island. Just thinking about this makes me homesick and with age the feeling intensifies.

Singapore is both a concrete jungle and a garden city. It is both a modern city and a place steeped in traditions practised by those who occupy its heartlands. I have learnt over the years to look beyond the facades of modernity into the true Singapore where new and old, east and west merge or co-exist in various degrees. We really do have the best of many worlds.

Last August, I finally brought my family of 5 to Pulau Ubin. The last time I visited was probably back in the 1990s when I was an Elderly Befriender volunteer with the Ang Mo Kio Social Service Centre. Us volunteers occasionally received training from the social workers and we also had bonding trips to help us remain more coherent as a group (consisting of people from very diverse backgrounds and ages as it was).

From Changi Point to Pulau Ubin jetty

Today, Pulau Ubin (Granite Island) probably has one of the last kampongs left in Singapore. Heard that only 38 people lived on the 10km2 island in 2012, from the few thousand back in the 1960s. We took a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal one morning after it had 12 passengers onboard.

Hub loved the island - the laid-back, old Singapore feel, the greenery, mud tracks, wooden houses...It was almost like stepping back into time, into another world. And it's so cool because it's so near to modern Singapore.

The Village

Make a quick visit to the public toilets near the jetty before you set out to explore the island unless you fancy doing it out in the nature with possible visits from gigantic monitor lizards while you are at it. We came across one as we were cycling and it was impressive how it hit a van (with its powerful tail) which was parked next to it (the driver stopped to take a picture of said lizard). It was scary and fascinating at the same time. There was also a family of wild pigs near Chek Jawa that residents seemed to be familiar with.

Some of the wild residents

Before we rented our bikes (easy to do so from any of the several shops lining the main street of the main village), we visited a vegetable garden (with deadly mosquitoes, so do come equipped with long sleeves and pants or powerful creams) and walked through the village. The bikes had seen better days, but what the heck, it's all part of the rustic nature of the island, besides they were not expensive to rent. A couple of cyclists have lost on their lives on "cemetery road" while going downhill or engaging abrupt ends so do consider hiring a helmet too.

Quarry lakes and wooden houses

We discovered that Ubin has a world-class Ketam mountain biking trail, and saw a couple of guys with special bikes going on it. It poured at some point when we were on the island and we took shelter in one of the various shelters along the tracks. Fortunately, rain doesn't usually last long in Singapore, you get a shower and then life continues.

The island is very green and the quarry lakes are beautiful. We didn't go on any guided tour because the timing wasn't right, but do check out the NParks website for guided walks or visits on the island.

Chek Jawa

We did visit Chek Jawa though. There is a boardwalk (through mangroves and the coastline) that is open daily from 8:30am to 6pm and you leave your bikes in a parking area near its entrance. We also climbed up the Jejawi Tower for a view of the canopy and surrounding islands. I loved the viewing jetty in the sea, felt just so calm and peaceful.

View of the canopy

Before leaving the island, those who love seafood could dine in the village. We didn't since the younger kids do not eat seafood, but I heard the food there was quite good.

On certain Sundays, I believe that a Malay cooking class is held in one of the wooden houses, maybe I'll return one of these days for the experience. I've never lived in a kampong before, having started out my life in a 3-room HDB flat in Toa Payoh.

Bye bye Ubin!

I hope that Pulau Ubin would be allowed to remain idyllic and not too developed so that mainlanders could have somewhere to go to if they would like to take a break from city life; not to mention remember a bit of the past by.

vendredi, avril 03, 2015

Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015)

Thank you, Mr. Lee, you will always be my hero! R.I.P.

I am who I am - because you were

I can lift my head high and walk with my back straight - because of you

I dare to dream and I dare to do - because you did

I have the courage of my convictions - because you had them first.

No one has inspired and motivated me as much as you had, Sir. I thank you for a life of struggle, of tough decisions (and the courage it took to make them), of vision, of leadership by example and of devotion to the Nation. May you join your beloved wife in rest and in peace. 

Thank you, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. 

I promise to always try my best and keep the flame burning, that we do not squander all that you have built for and with us.

Majullah Singapura!

mercredi, mars 11, 2015

Glutinous Rice Balls (汤圆): the last night of the Chinese Lunar New Year


Every year, across countries in Asia where glutinous rice balls are consumed on auspicious occasions,  one often reads about some kid or elderly choking to death on a ball. Yet, the asian love for all things round continues and I couldn't keep out the sound of the salesgirls promoting their glutinous rice balls in Carrefour in the week leading to the end of CNY, nor could I stop receiving (on social media) all sorts of well wishes for 元宵 - also known as the Chinese Valentine's Day.

I guess the folklore of lovers reuniting under the full moon is irresistible for the Chinese and the fact that you could play with the characters/symbols and come out with all kinds of wishes for fullness, wealth etc make it a sure hit with the superstitious. However, the occasion is not celebrated the same way everywhere in the Chinese world and the way one would eat a glutinous rice ball would also differ according to local customs or taste.

I remember that when I was a kid, mum would roll her own glutinous rice balls and they would be plain, white and red, and served in a sweetened soup. Of course the Gods and ancestors would always get to try them first, but I loved them and didn't mind having the leftovers :-).

Then the age of the industrially-produced frozen glutinous rice balls arrived and we would have them stuffed with sesame paste, peanuts or red bean paste. From the look of things the Chinese where I am are now at this stage because almost every person I questioned about the rice balls was not making his own. Quite a pity since we all know now that it is best to avoid consuming industrially produced food products wherever possible, plus glutinous rice balls are probably one of the easiest things to make on one's own.  

In Shanghai, the Chinese also eat savoury meat-filled glutinous rice balls which are not something I am used to. And according to my driver Zong, what matters to them is the filling (whether sweet or savoury) and not much attention is usually paid to the soup. In fact, they usually just serve their precious glutinous rice balls in hot water.

CNY 2015

I will not bother to blog the recipe since I've done so about 5 years ago. For this year's yuanxiao, I made 3 types of glutinous rice balls: rose and pandanus flavoured, as well as plain white balls stuffed with salted duck egg yolk. The soup was a simple brown sugar with ginger and pandanus leaves solution. If using Taikoo's ginger brown sugar, use it sparingly and combine with normal white sugar as the former is very very strong.

I made each kid eat just one glutinous rice ball for the occasion as they are not at all into it (I guess it's an acquired taste) while I gobbled down the rest. I thought it made a good occasion for teaching them about some of the Chinese customs while we are still living in China.  

mercredi, février 25, 2015

Three Mornings at Willing Hearts : Feeding the Needy in Singapore

Eldest Son cooking rice @Willing Hearts

The Young Adult has/had CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) obligations to fulfil as part of his IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma and as usual was lacking behind. Mum had to come to the rescue and it was fortunate that a charity food kitchen like Willing Hearts exists in Singapore. Anybody is welcome to help out though they prefer volunteers to turn up before sunrise and if possible stay till at least lunch time.

Fate was kind to us because my parents' flat happened to be a short taxi ride away from the food kitchen (at Genting Lane, though they have since moved to bigger premises in Jalan Ubi). It was still tough having to wake the boy up very early during his vacation, but he was keen to clock enough charity hours for CAS so he was pretty cooperative.

Willing Hearts at 6am

We arrived at the industrial building when it was still dark and quiet and I decided to stay and help out too since I have always wanted to serve in a food kitchen. I guess one is also more motivated when one knows that one would be helping one's own countrymen, especially senior citizens for whom I have a tender spot.

There were many stations at which one could choose to help out, from washing and cooking rice, to washing and preparing vegetables and meat, to cooking, packing, delivering the food etc. The YA started out cooking rice and being the dyspraxic child that he is, spent the rest of his 3 mornings there cooking rice. I started out cooking rice too, but quickly decided that I wanted to see something else and ended up helping to pack the food which was more interesting because it was different depending on what they had in the pantry and who it was meant for. Needless to say I also tasted a bit of what I was packing to see what the recipients were in for. There was this fried rice with dried shrimp (from a can) that was actually quite tasty though I thought it didn't look appetising (looks can be deceiving).

Cooking rice for thousands of people

We were there from Sunday till Tuesday (in July 2014) and got to see the changing demography of the volunteers. In the week, the food kitchen could usually depend on a vibrant, efficient and fierce group of tai tais that included both locals and expats. They would bark out orders and move really quickly because they have been doing this almost every day for a number of years now. On weekends, there will be mainly corporate volunteers, students and working individuals who feel a need to offer occasional help. Then, there are a few people who turn up every day rain or shine, including Tony Tay the retiree who started the kitchen and an electrical engineer (in red T-shirt) who helps out every morning before he goes to work!

Volunteers at work; Tony the founder is the guy in dark blue T-shirt looking at his phone

The thing that bothers me is that people think that there are only needy people in developing countries. There are needy people in all societies and the ones that live in relatively rich countries are often forgotten or ignored because they are not so visible. When we were there, the food kitchen was churning out meals for more than 4000 people each time, mostly for the elderly and the underprivileged, regardless of race or religion (the kitchen doesn't serve pork or lard). I heard that they now offer dental and TCM services as well in their new premises.

It was nearly lunch time when we were done!

Tony said that the YA should accompany one of their vans when they go around delivering the packed lunches and that he would surely find meaning in what he had been doing. I was certainly tempted to take him up on it if we were not already busy with other more personal obligations. The Willing Hearts would definitely be a stop for us now when we visit Singapore, CAS or no CAS. I am keen to see their new kitchen and hope that my other children will also find understanding if they had the chance to (physically) serve others less fortunate than themselves. Meanwhile, if you were hesitating about whether to help out or not, please go ahead and do it at least once. Just being commanded by the tai tai army would be an experience in itself!   

mardi, février 24, 2015

Banana Bread (could have been gluten-free but wasn't)

Banana Bread

We went hiking in Hong Kong over the CNY holidays and left whatever food we couldn't clear out before leaving to their own fates. Among the stuff were 2 bananas that turned black on the outside, but remained surprisingly firm and white on the inside. I am no expert in bananas so I can't dissertate about why these bananas were not rotting on the inside, nor could I tell you if the race and cultivation methods had anything to do with that, but ripe bananas certainly do tend to reveal a primitive desire in me to cook or bake them.

I have baked a number of banana cakes and brownies in my life, and I am always ready to try something new. In recent times I've been reading quite a bit about the use of alternative grains in cooking and baking, and I've seen with my own eyes how ladies who couldn't eat gluten tend to be really skinny. Unfortunately I love my wheat and know that it would be torture to resist the pasta, fresh loaves and cakes, so I have been toying with the idea of reducing processed wheat flour with small amounts of alternative "healthier" flours. On this day, I found almond meal, organic chickpea (besan) and wheat flours in my pantry, so I used them. I've run out of wholemeal wheat flour, and would have loved to use it too if I had any on hand.

With this Year of the Goat, we started our 5th year as expats in Shanghai. This would be our longest expatriation ever in one country, and while we welcome it as the children are attending good international schools, the Hub still has lots to accomplish in his current position and I enjoy being chauffeur-driven, there are moments when I feel tired of living in this expat bubble and wished I could be somewhere where I could plant a few trees, choose my own tiles for the bathroom, build my own kitchen and meet more people who lead "normal" lives. As I do my morning walks, I often spend time renovating my own place in my head, and they come in all sizes, from tiny to moderately big though never too big as I still do not think I'll want to hire full-time domestic help.

If you have been an expat for as long as I have been, and in so many different places, you would have met all sorts of people. There are people with whom you could enjoy existentialist, metaphysical and/or XXX discussions and debates, but with most people, you will have to keep relations at the how are you and I love you levels. When I first arrived in Paris to study politics at Sciences Po, I often wondered what's with the French and their love for talk shows where they discussed and debated everything to death; then I spent a few months in Rochester, NY, where I noticed that most people looked at life in black and white, where you had to constantly put yourself in one camp or another. That horrified me, for I couldn't understand why a land of liberty could produce so many people with such limited views, and with such an overpowering sense of good versus evil when the gun is so freely wielded by people both "good" and "bad". Just as I had romantic fantasies about Arab oil sheikhs that dispersed at my first contacts with a few North Africans, I dropped my American Dream and returned to Europe, to the Brits with their sense of humour, the French for their lack of, the Germans for being there to make sure that everybody toes the line, the Italians for being such a mess but for making the best pasta and ceramics...the list goes on for the Continent is as big and diverse as it is old.

Here in Shanghai, with such a very big expat population, you amplify the contacts you have with people from all over the world. And you have what I didn't have in the other expat communities I lived in: Charity Galas and loads of charity-related events. China, I guess, has both the world's second largest number of billionaires as well as gigantic pockets of people who need help. Help that they seem not to be getting from their billionaires, nor from their government that taxes people like us 50% of our income at its source. So it's more or less left to the many warm-hearted locals, expats and international schools here to carry out year-round fundraising, combine that with the IB requiring their students to do charity as part of their learning and Diploma, and you will be doing charity in one way or another here, both directly and indirectly.

Recently, a friend reacted to a Wechat discussion a group of mums from the school were having about charity overdose. She posted a few thoughts on Facebook about how people who travelled a few times a year complained about donating 10 rmb here and there (e.g. during charity drives at school); that some mums complained about being solicited to help out at school while others did their part without complaining. As I have mentioned earlier, it's a friend that I like and respect, so I resisted the temptation to point out in her FB posting that what she wrote couldn't logically hold much water as there was too much hyperbole in it. How could people who could afford to travel a few times a year not want to pay 10 rmb to help out a few poor Chinese kids? Surely the issue runs deeper than that and if a few hundred, even thousand rmb a year could help save your soul and your conscience who wouldn't go for it willingly? Unfortunately, if you take it at such a minimised angle, it made those who dared to complain about charity drive attrition, or how our kids only look upon charity as taking money from mummy to give to the school, look really bad. Still, as I've always said to those who would listen, only you yourself know what you think and have done, so no problem there. Least you think I'm speaking behind her back, I will bring this up with her face to face another time.

Speaking of travel, most expats I know do travel a lot, some more comfortably than others. There are expats whose companies (usually American) offer them generous travel allowances that may pay for business class air tickets, hotel accommodation and even car rentals, there are expats whose companies only offer an annual ticket home (and if you are like us it's only for economy class) and there are others who get nothing. So 4/5 times when we travel, it's out of our own pocket, it's a choice we make that usually requires sacrifices on our part e.g. the Young Adult has nothing saved towards his college education. But even when I was earning peanuts as a young graduate I've always managed to save enough to travel each year, so it doesn't matter if I couldn't afford luxury travel, I'm happy just to continue seeing the world and experience life beyond the usual with whatever means we have at hand. And if 10rmb here and there could make me feel better about this indulgence, it wouldn't be too much to give away. If only things are so simple...

Helping out at school is another expat-related issue. Back in those days when my kids went to public schools in France, the only people you ever get to see if you should go to school were a few grandparents and nannies at the school gate (usually closed during school hours). Most mothers worked and the schools only asked you to turn up if there was an issue with your child. When our children first attended an international school in Italy, I had my first PTA contact and ended up spending almost 4 years in the school itself. Certes, I made great friends among the other mothers who helped out and I entered into some friction with the School Principal because of my big mouth (but since then we understand and respect each other, don't we?), but I literally lived with the school and the other expats. Arriving in Shanghai, I saw that the situation was similar, though as the schools are bigger and the population bigger too, you wouldn't get the same sense of community as you would back in Modena. I decided that discretion would be the better part of valour and kept a low profile most of the time, helping out whenever I could or felt like it, and most of the time I would turn up to help without having put my name down for it - so that nobody would remember me if they were looking for "volunteers" later on!

Besides helping out in the classrooms, parents are often required to help out in charity-related events often driven by the school, its Student Council and/or its PTA, from baking goodies for sale to organising the charity galas etc. I have given much thought in the past few years to this, but came up with no obvious resolution about my personal involvement at this moment. When I was a teenager, I spent 6 years of my life as a volunteer with the elderly in a neighbourhood social service centre. We were hands-on charity workers and had to come out with time and effort beyond time for studies or work. We had a camaraderie with our fellow volunteers and a connection with the senior citizens we worked for that money wouldn't be able to buy. It's like studying about humanitarian effort at University and learning about how just providing funds could do more harm than good. At the same time, without funds, charity effort on the ground cannot be sustained. So it's a combination of different effort at different levels; you have to admire and thank those people who, by hook or by crook, raise the funds to feed your charity labour and the fund raisers are glad that there is a good reason for them to give money for.

In Shanghai, many expat mums leave behind their jobs (at least temporarily especially for the first timers) in their own countries and arrive in an environment like the school which, I suspect, gave them a sense of belonging and purpose. I'm sure they sincerely feel compassion for the Chinese children, orphans etc they are helping to raise funds for, but looking from the angle of a former volunteer, it's relatively glamorous work attending meetings (and from what I heard, a lot of politicking and egos flying around most of the time in them), baking cupcakes, charming shops to donate prizes...But it's important to have someone do it and we should be grateful that they did what they did because they didn't have to in the first place. Then other expats could find a nice dress to wear to a gala, make a few bids in the silent auctions and send more money to a few charitable organisations. Everyone has a place in this karma-generating enterprise and we can only hope that those who really need the money and help get the majority of all of that.

Do I sound negative or positive or do you really need to figure it all so very clearly? What happened to the Banana Bread? I blog this recipe for my Bulgarian friend ES (still living in Modena) who asked for it and hope that she will like it.

Banana Bread :

1½ cup all purpose wheat flour (could replace ½ cup with wholemeal)
½ cup organic chickpea flour
½ cup almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas mashed
½ cup brown sugar (can also be ginger-spiced) 
½ cup olive oil (preferably light-flavoured)
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup water
½ cup walnuts or pecan nuts chopped and optional

20x10x10 cm loaf tin oiled and floured

The method : 

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Mix dry ingredients (e.g. flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon) together in a large bowl.

In another large bowl mash the bananas and combine with the sugar, olive oil and vanilla to a smooth consistency.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients adding the water as you go along.

Stir in the chopped nuts if you are using them.

Pour into the loaf tin and bake for an hour.

With maple syrup

This loaf is best eaten warm, but I enjoy heating it up slice after slice a day or 2 later and eating it with maple syrup or nutella.  

dimanche, février 01, 2015

Waffle (a second recipe)


I have a yeast-based waffle recipe in my archives that dates back to 2010. It's pretty classic except that it requires quite a bit of sitting time and there are days when I may be in a bit of a hurry. That's when a baking powder-based waffle recipe comes in handy, especially on this day when, in exchange for a few stingy kisses from my hormone-fired female teenager, I had to prepare a round of waffles for breakfast.

I also used a different iron for these waffles, giving them deeper indents which allow them to collect more sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Waffles (makes 8-10) :

300g all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 eggs beaten
125g butter (unsalted or salted, melted)
400ml milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or
1 tbsp orange blossom water/grand marnier/rum (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the middle and beat in the eggs.

Stir in the milk and mix well to get a smooth batter.

Stir in the melted butter and extra flavouring if you choose to use it.

Let the batter sit for at least 20 minutes.

Heat up your waffle iron and butter it. Pour in the batter and cook. Hub likes his waffles not too cooked while I like mine very cooked, so basically adjust the cooking time according to your taste.

The waffles are light and fluffy, though with this recipe, in terms of quantity, I can't really feed my always-hungry family of 5. I had to double the quantity in order to give everyone at least 3 waffles each.

Serve with maple syrup, icing sugar, honey, jam, ice cream, whipped cream or enjoy them plain!