Thursday, 1 December 2011

It's December Again!

I can't believe it is December again; the festivities from last season still feel so fresh to me... It's safe to say I had an extremely memorable 2010 Christmas! 
This year, I would be celebrating Christmas in yet again another city. It is definitely not easy to get into the Christmas spirit especially in a country that doesn't really celebrate this season. In a bit of positivity, China has more Christmas feel going on as compared to Korea; so if I managed to be all festive in Korea then I would definitely be able to here in China.
Last year I was giving away almond biscotti as my yearly Christmas treat giveaway. This year I decided to spice things up by making lovely festive spiced cookies. I decided to make these cookies as soon as I laid my eyes on some cute cookie cutters while I was baking supply shopping.
I kept the design of my cookies nice and simple as I want the deliciousness of my cookies to be all about the cookie than the sugary decorative icing. I am glad I made this decision because the cookies definitely taste sensational! I will be bringing a box full of these cookies later this afternoon on my Mandarin class... I hope everyone will enjoy each bite.

Bisou bisou,

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I'm Baking and Blogging Again... Finally!

It's been such a long time since I last blogged; I say more than two months? My blog is starting to collect dusts and creepy crawlers are starting to take notice. Fear not, I'm back! I finally have an oven! Yey yey yey! Oh, it was driving me crazy not being able to bake and blog. I have to thank everyone though for still visiting Ambitious Bubble even if there was a clear scarcity of updates.

Looking for an oven in China was not the easiest task as ovens are not common in Chinese kitchens. I did my research, searched hard and finally saw one that looked decent. The oven I finally decided to invest on turned out to have no new stock in the store, so I had to make a decision and get the display model that had little scratches here and there. I would normally try to check other shops but since it was such a quest to find an oven, I settled for the display oven; plus, I so wanted to start baking already! 

Oven was not the only difficult mission I encountered. Finding baking supplies was also a nightmare since baking/desserts are not Chinese staples. I had the same experience in Korea, but was blessed with a friend who's good with her googling skills and managed to find a baking supply shop (which I totally miss). So in my mind, if Korea has one, then China has to have one especially that most things are 'made in China'! I was very determined to find a baking shop; search after search after search, alas, I found one! The shop is an hour away from where I live but I am happy to travel just so I can bake!

oven + well stocked baking ingredients + growing baking utensils and pans + my beloved mixer = baking galore! ♥
Chocolate Chocolate Cake from Sugar Bowl
While I was idle with baking and blogging, my mind was wandering and dreaming. Then came this idea - an online shop. It was, after all, part of my ambition to have my own pastry shop one day, so why not start small with an online shop, right?

So for the past week and a half I was working like a horse, getting my online shop ready for my scheduled launch date: November 20. Did I meet my deadline? Yes I did! I was editing my site to the last minute, but I did it!
Raspberry Lemon Cake Bonbon from Sugar Bowl
I named my online shop Sugar Bowl. You can check it out at although the shop only caters to residents in Shenzhen, China. Maybe in the future I'll go global! haha I have narrowed down my product list to serving cake bonbons, cakes, bars, cookies and pies. I also decided to cater to customized orders as well! I don't know how the residents of Shenzhen would respond to my shop; all I know is I'm making my first step towards making one dream into reality. For the shop to succeed, only time will tell. I have my fingers crossed!
On a positive note, two days before my launch, I received an invite to join a cookie & muffin contest that would be held the same day as my online shop launch. I decided to attend the event even though I was so drained already; I wanted to grab the opportunity to meet people that share the same love for baking as I do. The event was fantastic; people were nice and friendly. I felt welcomed even though I was a complete outsider (most of the people who attended know each other already), I even managed to grab 2nd place in both cookie and muffin category! That was definitely unexpected!
Melting Moments with Raspberry and Peanut Butter Buttercream
Cake Bonbons (they were allowed to compete for the muffin category)
So here it is, my first blog after a long halt! My new oven was put into test by baking 4 cakes, a pie, brownies and cookies within its first week in my kitchen... I think I chose the right oven! 'Til my next post!

Bisou bisou,

Friday, 16 September 2011

China on a Shoe-String Food Budget and Mid-Autumn Festival

We have been in China for three weeks now, and H and I are just about settling in. First week here was crazy! We had to find an apartment, buy the bare necessities (cutleries, plates, pots, pans, linens, toiletries, etc.), subscribe for internet, open bank accounts, get ourselves Chinese sim cards and do a full medical check-up as part of the process for our alien resident permit. Most of the time, we were assisted by a representative from my H's workplace; even so, it was not easy to have everything you want to know or ask about be translated by a middleman. After many miscommunications and lost in translations, we finally feel more at home now.

Moving to a new home is certainly not cheap or easy, let alone moving country! H and I are currently living on a tight budget since we spent a lot for deposits and fees for this and that. Good thing with China, food, especially vegetables, are cheap - a kilo of tomatoes, potatoes and carrots for just a dollar or even less! So if you know how to cook smart, a budget of $3 - $4 to feed two people a delicious meaty and healthy meal should be sufficient. Here are some of my budget home-cooked meals.
 Chinese Sausage Fried Rice topped with Shrimp
Duck a l'orange served with Mashed Potatoes, Hyacinth Peas and Carrots
 Lazy One-Pan Dish of Rice, Fish Fillets, Bok Choy and Tomatoes Topped with Spring Onions
Chilli Garlic Chicken Drumsticks with Carrots Served with Steamed Rice 
Pork Strips Cooked in Tomato Served with Bok Choy and Steamed Rice 
Chilli Pork and Onion Sausages Served with Potatoes and Carrots 
Pan-Fried Chicken Breast Served with Diced Green Bell Pepper, Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onions on a Bed of Steamed Rice

Eating out is not exactly expensive either. If you look for small, almost stall-like restaurants you will be spending similar to what you would be spending when you cook at home. Down side to eating in these small cafes: they don't have English menus; you can always just point at pictures on the menu that looks appetizing for you or if you feel adventurous, you can point at a random menu item and hope for the best! So far, I have never been disappointed with my choices. 
Make-Your-Own Noodles
 Noodles with Liver
 Zha Jiang Mian
Beef Stir-Fry served on a Bed of Steamed Rice
Duck served with Cabbage and Steamed Rice
 Braised Pork Belly and Rice

If it were up to H, we would be eating out everyday, but I oppose to that. Don't get me wrong, I love eating out, but I also like to know what goes into my food. So to make it fair for both of us, we balance our meals by sometimes dining out and sometimes having a home-cooked meal by yours truly!

On a different note, we were lucky to be here in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival. I wanted to experience how locals would normally celebrate this occasion, so I did some research. Apparently, a lot of families would go to the park and appreciate the moon while eating mooncakes and fruits. So that's what we did. It was definitely a nice cultural experience going to the park for the festival. We opted to go to the less crowded Central Park, and witness families spending quality time with their kids. There were also many kids playing with their lanterns. We really enjoyed the whole moon-gazing event, but for next time, we would prepare a bountiful picnic basket that is not limited with mooncakes and fruits! Most families brought picnic baskets wafting with scrumptious aromas of yummy food that made H and I so hungry; H ended up running to the nearest convenience store to buy some food to compensate for our lack of preparation.
 Riddles on pieces of papers were posted all over our apartment lobby. If you solve a riddle you get a fruit or mooncake as a prize.
We were early birds at Central Park with our fruits and mooncakes.
Families dotted around the park enjoying their picnic while appreciating the full-moon.

P.S. As for my baking affair, it would have to wait for a while. There are still things (more practical things) that H and I have to invest on while we are on this budget crunch. So just be patient with me, I will be baking soon!

Bisou bisou,

Monday, 5 September 2011

Travel Food Blog: England

After days of no access to blogger, twitter and facebook, I am finally back! Before I came to settle in China about a week ago, I was in England to visit my in-laws. As you may know, I have been baking scrumptious treats while I was there, but aside from baking, I was also enjoying good old British food.

So what is British food? More specifically, what does the English cuisine have to offer to the food industry? Well, I went for the cliché... Chips, pies and everything fried!
Fishcakes with Chips and a Tub of Gravy
Doner Burger and Chips
Classic Fish and Chips
Steak Pie and Chips with Sausage and Curry Sauce
All food from the above photos were take-aways from the good old CHIPPY!
Steak Pie... yum!
More pies...
Steak and Kidney Pie
Shepherd's Pie
Cornish Pasty
Sausage Rolls and Pasties
Sausage Roll
One of my favourite processed food - Fish Fingers!
Semi-full English Breakfast aka Fry-up (when eaten during dinner time)

It was really difficult for me to stay healthy while I was in England. I did pretty well the first three days, but the junky goodness widely available eventually took over the best in me!

So to compensate my full-fat diet...
Crumpets with Fresh Blackberries
Sunday Roast - Roasted Lamb's Heart served with Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Parsnips, Mashed Carrots and Swede, Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy (not in photo)
A popular Liverpool stew - Scouse
Fennel, which I turned into a simple orange and fennel salad
Venison with Gravy, Pickled Onions and Beetroots
Passion Fruit
For some sweet treats - Fudge
Last but not the least, I wouldn't have left England without a nice Champagne afternoon tea. My cake stand was a scrumptious spread of ham and cheese sandwich, chocolate eclair, chocolate cake, vanilla slice and a scone served with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

That's all for my great British feast!

Bisou bisou,


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