Looking back, we see how God has been good to us. There are a lot of unfavorable baby phases that have passed such as evening fussiness, spitting up after feeding, clogged tear duct, and madness of getting bottle-fed. There are many of those that we still have to deal with such as fragmented sleep and short napping when he sleeps in his crib. Yet there have also been countless joyful moments, and many many more of that that are coming. It always makes me smile to see hubby is so crazy about his little buddy.
For his half year birthday, I made chocolate chiffon cake because I didn't have butter (chiffon cake uses vegetable oil). The finishing was chocolate butter cream and a baby goat on the center of the cake. I chose a goat because his 6-month birthday fell in the 15-day celebration of Chinese new year, and it is the year of goat (sheep). The goat's cheeks were reddish, because our poor baby just had eczema. He is getting much better though. The sheep was white because it's snowing outside. So, his simple half year birthday cake was very meaningful
Now that he's 6-month old, he can have solid food. His first solid food was steamed sweet potato. I cut the sweet potato to a size that he's comfortable holding. He grabbed one, put in his mouth, then spit it up while making funny face. He didn't seem to enjoy eating it, but surely enjoy mushing it with his hands.
Happy half year birthday our sweet baby boy. The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.
I was so excited to have mom with me on her birthday. I don't remember last time I celebrated her or any of my family or relatives' birthday other than hubby's. To celebrate her very day, I planned on making a birthday cake. The cake was an easy fondant covered three-layer cake with some gum paste flowers. I used the same flower color as one on my anniversary cake. As you can guess, I have very limited food colorings, ahem... only blue and peach!
Making such simple cake wasn't simple with a newborn around. It took me a day to finish the whole thing especially since little O didn't have a schedule yet at that time. I was so glad to have my mom and dad accompanied me finishing up the cake past midnight. The cake wasn't superb, but I could see that my parents were so proud of it.
Yes I am still here. My life has changed a lot since little O was born, which was expected. I haven't cooked much since then. God has sent his angels through great friends thus far. Our friends sent food until two weeks after we were discharged from hospital. I never knew that not worrying about what to eat was such a big thing. We had to adjust with a newborn's life while I was still recovering from surgery. Thing would have been much more difficult without our friends' helps. After that, we got help from my parents. We are on our own now, but things are much better. I am totally healed, and little O is getting bigger.
My mom and dad, being Indonesian-Chinese, still keep the tradition of celebrating 1-month birthday. Usually, parents of the baby send cake to relatives and friends who give present to the baby. Hubby and I didn't adopt that tradition. Being so happy for having a new grandson, my parents took over our "responsibility". They sent puddings and chiffon cakes for our relatives and their close friends. My dad told me that he and my mom were honored to do that because they were so thankful and proud for having a new addition to the family. They did the same thing too for my nephew four months earlier.
My sister kept telling me how great the chiffon cake was. Since I kept imagining the taste of the cake, I opened my recipe book, and made one when my mom was visiting us. I made cheese chiffon cake to mimic ones that were sent on baby O's 1-month birthday. According to my mom, the taste was as good, but mine had spreads of cheese holes instead of small cheese cubes. I guess I need to find cheese that doesn't melt to get that kind of texture.
Time flies when you are having fun. It's been 9 years since we got married. During those times, we have experienced many great joyful and sad teary moments. There were times when we faced huge obstacles in front of us. However, we've realized that God's ways have been far bigger and stronger than problems we faced. We often are still in awe of how we get to where we are! We continue praying for God's guidance and providence for our days to come, and hope that we, as individual and as a family can be blessing for people around us.
We didn't go out or have a special dinner because hubby isn't a big fan of celebrating "important" dates, but I baked a cake for our anniversary. The cakes were regular yellow and chocolate cakes. The flower was peony, similar to ones I made for our brother's wedding two years ago. Since the wedding, I never used the flower mold, so I thought I needed to use it again (and again) so it's worth the money I spent . For something like that, I wish I had some friends who had the same hobby as mine so we could lend each others baking stuffs. That way I won't feel guilty of buying baking tools since I knew someone else could use it . Anyway. I used fondant for the outer part of the cake, and butter cream icing to glue the fondant to the cake. The cream was leftover from my mother in law.
Just like our marriage, the cake also wasn't perfect. I was still not comfortable working with fondant althought I've watched a lot of cake decorating shows! Nonetheless, hubby said it was good! He's just too sweet
I was reminded by my friend and some kids at church that two Sundays ago was my first Mother's day (I thought Mother's day was for a mom that has born baby?) Some kids made cards for me. How cute!
This past few months, there are some people, through cards or in person, told us that we would be great parents. I know them well and know that they are so nice, but that sentence made me wonder. Will we be great parents? Can we? How to be great or even good parents? What if we can't be great parents? Since I only need to work and write thesis, I have free evening time and have time to ask some friends about parenting and ask about baby essentials we need to buy. Baby stuffs are overwhelming. Great, safe, organic, non-toxic stuffs come with price. Unfortunately we don't have unlimited budget to always get the best for our baby. Wait, the baby hasn't even born yet and we can be great parents? Surely it makes me ponder.
Fortunately I have some friends including my academic advisor who is also my "life" advisor to remind me to make things easier. They basically said that we can do as much and leave the rest to God. What works for others may not work for us and the other way around. Whatever we think is the best for our baby may not be something he likes. As long as we do our "best", that's enough; and sometimes our best may not look best for others.
I made martabak manis (Indonesian pancake with chocolate and cheese filling) that weekend. The recipe I got online was so promising. The owner of the blog where the recipe was posted said that it was an easy recipe but promise great result. I also found other person using that recipe with great picture, so I was so convinced that it would be like the one I had back home. I was wrong! My martabak manis was so dense without texture and tasted just okay. It probably is like being parents, no recipe is foolproof. There are too many variables in becoming parents, too impossible to be shaped to a cookie cutter.
I am sometimes convinced that being parents can't be that hard. Million people have done it for thousand years, right? But there are times when I worry about this new chapter I am about to embark. It may take us a while before we find our personalized recipe, one that works for us.
I made martabak manis again the next weekend using a different recipe. The result was much better that time but still different than martabak I got from street vendors back home. Healthier I supposed
Last weekend was a busy Easter break. I had Maundy Thursday service, two baby showers to attend, and of course Easter service. On top of that, I also had to study for a big Statistics exam for the Monday right after Easter. My classmate said that he wouldn't do anything other than studying that weekend because the exam would be a hard exam (he was right, it was hard). I was tempted to spend most of my break for studying, but I knew I would regret it later. However, I tried to trim down my activities that week, which included skipping photography field trip and refusing hubby's hard-to-reject wildflower hike in the Smokey mountain. I chose cooking for my friend's baby shower and baking cupcake for Easter breakfast with some studying here and there instead.
I'd been planning to make cupcake since I saw this recipe. I was intrigued by the color of the icing knowing that it came from dried blueberries. So I got dried blueberries from Trader Joe's and couldn't wait till the right time to make those. For the cake, I used this recipe because it used fresh blueberries. I wasn't sure if it would be okay to bring cupcake for Easter breakfast, but I thought having it for breakfast is acceptable once in a while
Hubby loves the cake especially the icing. He brought the leftovers to work this past two days. He didn't allow me to wash the mixing bowl because he wanted to lick it. The bowl is still in the refrigerator until now. Guess who wants to put baby weight in his belly?
I hope it is not too late to wish you a happy Chinese new year. This is a holiday that makes me miss my family so much. Since I was little, Chinese new year has always been a big family gathering. Grandma would wear a new pretty dress and ready since morning for her kids, grandchildren, and relatives to stop by and wished her a happy new year. Then we'd have a nice big celebration that involved a lot of good food. She would have been so happy had she come to the recent Chinese new year as my extended family has grown tremendously.
Hubby & I didn't have a special celebration this year. I cooked "shark fin" soup without the shark fin because I knew shark is endangered. So I just use my grandma's shark fin seasoning, and we were pretty happy with the result. For Sunday potluck at church, I made a cheesecake with raspberries on top to resemble Chinese new year color. I wish us a year full of blessing, joy, and love from God alone.
Our friend Sylvia usually bakes pumpkin whoopie pie in the Fall and brings to our Sunday school class. I love her whoopie pies the first time I tried. I miss her pies, but I especially miss her. I haven't seen her for a long time because she is a nurse that has to work on Sundays. Sylvia and her husband, Ray are a sweet couple that have taught us a lot of great things. They usually host a hayride party in Fall at their farm. However, this year is an exception since they have to take care of an ailing friend. May God bless them and give them joy in what they do.
Getting a big pumpkin from CSA, I thought of making whoopie pies. I haven't asked the pie recipe from Sylvia, but I found a recipe from my Mennonite cookbook. Sylvia is also a Mennonite, so it can't be too different, right?! The recipe said that it yields 3 dozens of sandwich pies. I think I made mine too big because I only got less than 18. I realized that my pies were huge, so I made them smaller on the second and third batches. Hubby preferred the small ones because the cream cheese and pie ratio is bigger than the larger ones.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Source: From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens
Cream: 2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
Add: 1 1/2 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
Add just until incorporated: 3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
We got a box of eggs from our CSA farmer each Saturday. Apparently, with my lack of cooking, the rate of consuming them was much slower than the rate of getting them. We didn't want to stop getting the eggs because our CSA farmer didn't always have chicken eggs. We loved her chicken eggs because they came from her own farm. The yolks were deep orange, great for baking and salted egg =) I knew that storing eggs is not a bad idea. They can stay good when refrigerated.
So there was time when we had 4 boxes of eggs in the refrigerator. Having a lot of eggs, I decided to bake a chiffon cake. Some time in the past, I baked chiffon cake a lot, from green tea, orange, spice, strawberry blueberry, chocolate, to pandan flavor. I think I got drifted from chiffon cake because I can't remember the last time I baked one. This time I chose green tea flavor with slices of red plums and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Green Tea Chiffon Cake
Whisk until stiff peak form: 8 egg white
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
In a separate bowl, beat until pale: 8 egg yolk
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs granulated sugar
Pour to the egg yolk mixture: 1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup water
Sift: 1 3/4 all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 (depends on brand) tsp green tea powder
A dash of salt
Gently fold egg white to egg yolk mixture gradually just until blended. Do not over mix!
Pour the batter into an ungreased chiffon pan (tube pan), bake with preheated oven at 325'F for 1 hour or until a chopstick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
After removing the cake from the oven, immediately invert the pan and place on a bottle or flat surface so it is suspended over the counter (1hour).
Run a knife around the inside of the tube pan and center core to remove the cake.
Summer break isn't halfway yet, but there has been a lot exciting things going on. It started with our trip to California, baby shower for a friend, camping trip last weekend, our friend's new baby that was just born yesterday, a new car was bought right on our 8th anniversary, and many more. In a couple of weeks, there are tentative plans of my friends from college and also our brother and his wife to visit us. We have also attended a small bible study with our church friends, something I look forward to. In between those big things, there is also time to knit, join yoga class, swim, cook plentiful fresh vegetables from CSA, and enjoy our evening!
I am savoring my time now. I know this break feels awesome because I know I will end; and that's what I wish for. As much as I love having a break, I also love being busy and learn new things and have new challenges eventhough they often make me cry. Anyway, I made this cheesecake upon hubby's request. He told me that I always made cheesecake for other people but not him (he got the leftover though). I told him that one recipe of cheesecake isn't for two people because it is a heavy dessert. He said, according to Michael Pollan, we can eat "high-calorie" stuffs if we made it ourselves. Haha... I made half recipe and we've been having it for several days and will have it tonight too. Great stuff to end a day.