Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Win some, lose some

The results of my first ever baking experiment are in! Determined that this would be different from my usual culinary misadventures, I prepared myself meticulously. I made a list of all the doubts I might have and found answers online before I actually got started rather than my usual strategy of making an instinctive (and usually wrong) choice while upto my elbows in eggs and flour.

So I found out what one 'cup' translates to in metric terms - for liquids and dry stuff separately - and wrote down all the conversions on a postit stuck to my kitchen work area. I figured out the difference between vanilla essence and extract. I doubled checked all mentioned oven temperatures and wrote them down in both Farenheit and Celsius.

I laid out all my equipment and supplies and ticked each item off against the recipe. I tested that the bowls I had were big enough for me to 'whisk gently' without spilling half the batter on the kitchen floor. The recipe (sent to me by a reader - thanks again, QA!), was copied out neatly onto another large postit also stuck to the work area. Moppet was sent down to play in the park with Nanny. I didn't want any distractions (or witnesses, in case of spectacular failure). I was ready to begin!

One. Two. Three. A deep breath, and I was off! Measuring, sifting, mixing, whisking, melting, and folding like a pro. In half an hour, the kitchen was smelling all warm and chocolatey, and I had a big bowl of brownie batter that looked just perfect.

I transferred it into my brand new baking tray, and encountered my first hitch. The tray was too small. I hadn't quite anticipated how much batter the recipe would produce. No matter, I'd just bake 2 batches. I poured in half the batter, and saved the rest for round 2.

Then the second hitch. For all my checks and online research, the one thing I had forgotten to check? The oven. It's an old oven that came pre-installed in the kitchen so there's no manual that explains the settings. I was able to figure out the timer and the temperature without a problem, but the mode setting had me stumped. They were just a series of icons, and I had no clue what they meant.

So I followed my instincts and picked one, and naturally it was the absolutely wrong choice. 10 minutes into baking, I realised by the thick burnt crust that had formed on top that it probably wasn't the right setting, so I foolishly followed my instincts and picked another setting.

Of course, that was even worse than the first setting, which I realised another 10 minutes into the game. By this time, my warm chocolatey kitchen was smelling like burnt coffee, and my eyes were beginning to smart. I tried a third setting - which may or may not have been the right one - it was too late to tell.

Finally, I turned everything off, burnt myself getting the tray out of oven (my equipment list hadn't mentioned oven mitts so of course I didn't buy any), dumped the half burned, half jellied batter straight into the dustbin, and informed Moppet's Papa (with great composure, given the circumstances) that my world had officially ended, that I was retiring from life, and that if he needed me he would find me in bed where I intended to stay for next week or so.

Ok, he said kindly, but since there was some batter left, why not give it another shot? He came along to help figure out the icons and after some debate we finally settled on one which turned out to be almost right. It wasn't perfect - the top still got a bit burned and I found another icon later that I realised wouldn't have had extra heat coming from the top - but it was much, much better than the previous 3 settings I had used. The burned portion was easily scraped off, and when the whole thing had cooled off, they actually turned out to be yummy. Not particularly good-looking, but really yummy.

Moppet's Papa casually asked me which brand of mix it was, and when I stopped stuffing my face long enough to inform him that it was no mix, that I had made it from scratch, he looked suitably impressed.

It seems there's hope for me after all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tagged: 22 things Every Guy Wants to know about Women

Dotmom handed me this tag, which is fast doing the rounds of all the mom blogs, with lots of great posts. I had better do this one pronto or all my answers are going to sound like they came from one of the other blogs.

1.How do you feel after a one night stand?
My feet ache.

2. Do you ever get used to wearing a thong?
Do you?

3. Does it hurt?
Oh no. You should try it sometime.

4. Do you know when you are acting crazy?
Me? Crazy? What? Who told you that? Tell me their name! Now!

5. Does size really matter?
Of course not! (wink, wink)

6. When the bill comes are you still a feminist?
When the bill comes, I'm an opportunist. I never let the opportunity to have someone else pay up pass.

7. Why do you take so long to get ready?
Why don't you take a little longer to get ready? You sure could use it!

8. Do you watch porn, too?
Don't need to, thank you very much!

9. Will something from Tiffany's solve everything?
No. A sincere apology would probably cost you more, but it works much better.

10. Are guys as big of a mystery to you as you are to us?
No. We're not the smarter sex for nothing, you know.

11. Why do you sometimes think you look fat?
Having to hold my breath before I can button my jeans might be a clue.

12. Why are you always late?
I'm not. Why do you assume that a woman will be late?

13. Does it bother you when we scratch?
No, it's natural. Men are just closer to apes on the evolutionary ladder than women are.

14. Do you wish you could pee standing up?
No. But I realise this is a big achievement for your kind, so well done!

15. Why do so many women cut their hair short as soon as they get married?
To relieve boredom.

16. How often do you think about sex?
Nowhere near as often as you do, I'll bet.

17. What do you think of women who sleep with guys on the first date?

18. Would you?
Yes. No. Maybe. Not.

19. Do you realize every guy wants a girl just like his mom?
Really? I'm glad I didn't marry Every Guy then.

20. Why does every woman think she can change him?
Because Every Guy's mom obviously didn't do such a great job.

21. Does it matter what car I drive?
No. It matters how you drive it.

22. Do you ever fart?
Yes. But only YOU can do it on demand.

Gotta say though, if this is really all Every Guy wants to know about women, then no wonder women are still a mystery to him!

Tagging Squiggles Mom (Ha! That'll teach you to be mean to me :-), Kiran (you can do this on your other blog if you don't want it on your mom blog), and Y.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lady of the Cake

One of the things that bothers me about not being able to work outside the home is that as a homemaker, my skills leave much to be desired. Without the the pressures of work as an excuse, I have nothing to explain away my utter lack of imagination when it comes to our home and meals.

It makes me feel incompetent. And I'm not used to feeling incompetent. Allow me a moment of immodesty here to say that I was a cute baby, a smart child, a happy and well-adjusted teenager, an above average student, and a top-rated employee. And my family and friends had better would agree that I'm a good person to have in their lives. So though I may not be particularly talented in any one thing, there are several things I can do without appearing like a total idiot.

Unfortunately, cooking is not one of those things. When I step into the kitchen to cook, the results are usually offensive to all 5 senses (If you're wondering how food can sound bad, it's not the food, it's me that sounds bad once the inevitably inedible dish is finally ready). It is as if my DNA is missing some crucial cooking gene. Up until now, this inability of mine wasn't something I felt particularly bad about it. So I can't cook. Big deal, was what I thought.

But then Moppet happened and I find myself wishing that I could make her something that she would love to eat. Something that 'nobody can make like mom does'. Something that when she's grown up and away from me, she will remember fondly as mom's special.

It is particularly ironic that I should feel this way. My Mil slaves away in the kitchen all day whenever we visit and is disappointed when we cannot eat more than a quarter of what she has prepared. I have gently told her several times that we know she loves us and that the making and consuming of vast quantities of food are not necessarily indicators of love and regard. And yet, here I am today, wanting to have my child eat and enjoy something I can make for her myself, wanting it to be another special something we share.

But here is the problem. My mom and Mil are as gifted in the matter of cooking as I am challenged. Which means that whether by miracle or dumb luck, I do manage to produce something edible, it will not hold a candle to anything either of the grandmas make. So what to do?

The answer came to me a couple of days ago. Baking! That's what I'm going to do! It has several advantages. I love all manner of baked stuff. Nothing I make will be compared to what Mom makes. And since they won't be everyday items, I won't be called upon to produce them too regularly. The perfect solution, don't you think? I'm already dreaming of the wonderful things I'm going to bake - cakes and cookies and brownies, maybe even bread! So this weekend, I am going to blow some cash on baking equipment and supplies and in a week, you should have a report on how my first ever cake turns out.

Maybe when you visit next, you will be treated to some homemade carrot cake or shortbread biscuits. Then again, with my natural gift for all things culinary, they may end up being store bought, and we may be eating them by candlelight because the oven blew out the power supply. But for now, just call me Lady of the Cake! :-)

Edit: Just realised after I posted that this was my 100th post. So even if my little baking project does go bust, at least I can do a small 'yay-me' on this blog project! :-D

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


"Moppet, do you need to go do susu?"


"Are you sure? Come on, let's go sit and see"

"No! No, no, no!" (vigorous head shaking)

"Ok, then"

60 seconds later, she's standing in a pool of piddle, her plastic blocks and stacking cups generously splashed too.

She meets my angry glare with equanimity. Straight-faced, she says: "Uh-oh"


Moppet is doing her little pick-me-up jig at my feet. I bend down and tell her that big girls go walking; so should she.

She considers this for a moment then points at herself and says "Baby." And looking up at me as if to emphasize my bigness, she pats my knee and says, "Mama, walking."

Confident that there can be no further argument, she raises her arms to be picked up. She is.


Whenever she does something good, I usually give her an enthusiastic 'Good girl' and a high five. Moppet has picked this up and uses it to her own end. After she's done some mischief (usually of the expressly forbidden kind), she knows no one's going to say good girl to her, so she says it for herself. "Goo-gal!"

Goo-gal, indeed!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mischief, mysteries, and suchlike madness

There's no doubt about it. I have given birth to a goonda. The fact hit home last weekend when our friends and their 5 year old daughter stayed with us. We went out shopping, and the way Moppet bossed over E, one would think that she was the one who was twice as big and 3 times older. It helped that E is a lovely, sweet natured child who was happy to play along with Moppet's crazy ideas.

Like they would go running down the mall hand-in-hand, yelling some sort of war cry, leaving a scattered bunch of startled shoppers in their wake. Or they would conspire near supermarket aisles, and attempt to knock down powder tins with one swipe, like dominos. Dash into a store and throw around some giant plastic balls that were piled in a corner. And of course, they went completely mad at Toys-R-Us.

I don't think E has done as much mischief in the last year as she managed to accomplish with Moppet in that one hour. She was giggling uncontrollably throughout, although her natural well-behaved self did assert itself at the supermarket and Toys-R-Us, where she followed Moppet, putting back everything she swiped from the shelves.

For the first time, I found myself questioning my wish for 2 or more kids. More kids, like this one? With this one as the gang leader?! Heaven help me!


These days, I am called to Moppet's bedside 3 or 4 times a night, usually with a piteous cry for 'Maaaama', or a croak for 'waaaater'. These are simply dealt with. A pat and a firm 'go back to sleep' is mostly enough for the first cry, and a sip of water takes care of the second.

Sometimes it's other people who are called. Her best friends Ishta (Ishita) and Bin (Ben) are often sent midnight summons, and since her grandpa arrived, Daadu has also been requested on a couple of occasions. Telling her they're still asleep and she should go back to sleep too usually works.

There are also some extraordinary calls - Bucket! Apple! Boat! Bubble! - what on earth is going on inside that little head of hers?

But that's not the mystery here. The real mystery is how her Papa has managed to NEVER be the one getting called at night. What I wouldn't give to be able to turn over in bed, poke him and say - She's calling YOU!

Sigh! In my dreams, maybe.


Apparently Moppet has a fetish for hair. I'd noticed that she liked to play with her friend Ishita's pony tail (much to Ishita's annoyance), but I thought it was more about playing with her than with her hair. Then this little Japanese boy about Moppet's age, owner of a most luxuriant head of soft silky hair moved into our building. For the last few days Moppet has been vigorously chasing him around the park, trying to stroke his hair, causing much merriment among the rest of the park population.


My dutiful DIL phase continues. Actually, my FIL is a sweetheart and is really no trouble to look after, but he does like to talk. A LOT. And unlike his son who gets away with rude remarks like, 'Yeah, I've heard that a dozen times already' or 'Ok, ok, get to the point now', I have to resort to gentler tactics such as 'Ah I remember you mentioned that before', or 'So you were actually tellling me about...' Not half as effective I'm afraid.

But in all, we're having fun. Every afternoon, we explore some new side street in Bangkok together, and have even managed to locate a South Indian restaurant not too far from our apartment. FIL has given his seal of approval: Prices are not alright but it tastes ok like.