Where it all begins …

This is a visit to the birth place of my passion of baking and love of software development . Before moving to Vancouver, I spent F1 to F3 (similar to grade 7 – 9 in North American system) in one of the oldest all girls school in Hong Kong: Ying Wa Girls School(英華女校). Experience from Ying Wa has fundamentally shaped my life.

I can still vividly remember in the cookery class kitchen where I saw eggs turned into pale fluffy batter and baked into delicious sponge cake.  The transformation was magical and I was hooked on baking ever since that sight!  I was one of those geek who joined computer club and spending my after school hours sitting in front computer (Apple II ;-).   It was fascinating to write some “for loops” with some “if.. then .. else” and see diagrams displayed on mono colour screen.   One day when I was walking pass connecting corridor between the lower and upper building, I looked at career bulletin board which has posting about jobs in computer. At that very moment, I was determinated that I have to be a programmer (and I was only in F1 – grade 7)!  I still feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to study in Ying Wa. This place has brought me so much good memory and also dearest life long friends.

This memorable building will soon be torn down.  I am sad but I know I should not feel too sad because it is all for the best.  There will be bigger and better campus for future Ying Wa Girls.

P.S. Specials thanks to Ms. Leung (from school office) who kindly let me visit the school and show me around to revisit this wonderful campus for one last time.

Click on the map to see how I “urban trekked” back to Ying Wa that day!


India Trip Planning Site Update Progress

I am pretty happy with progress so far after three weeks setting up my wordpress.org site in my home server.  I need something interesting to motivate myself to get more prepared with my up coming to to Indian & Nepal by the end of year.

Here is the site: http://india2011.aleung.ca

v0.1 – 2011-08-07: initial draft – installed apache, MySQL, PHP and wordpress.org.  wordpess.org installation is indeed very simple.  There was a little problem setting the redirect public link to work properly but I could easily find the answer from quick google searches.

v0.1 - initial draft

v0.1 - initial draft

v0.2 – 2011-08-14: added expense tracker after I get my first big trip related credit card monthly statement. Really need to track this expense closely to make sure I don’t easily go over budget. The way I do is pretty simple and fun. I am a simple Google spreadsheet to keep track of the spending and show the data visually using Google visualization to compare latest spending with my budget expense range with very easy to read gauge. The bar char on the side is nice and quick way to see the breakdown.

v0.2 - Expense Tracker  created with Google Visualization

v0.2 - Expense Tracker created with Google Visualization

v0.3 – 2011-08-21: added preparation page, shared button and count down widget. Finally made myself read through pages of preparation written in Chinese.  After understanding those and  research a bit, I put together a page that I don’t mind to read in detail

v0.3 - added preparation, count down & share buttons

v0.3 - added preparation, count down & share buttons

The feature I love the most has to be  the header pictures from 2008 Nepal trip!

First Day of Baby Trekking in Annapurna Region

First Day of Baby Trekking in Annapurna Region

Fish Tail mountain (Macchapucchre)

Fish Tail mountain (Macchapucchre)

Rice Paddy Field

Rice Paddy Field

Soft Trekker Buddies

Soft Trekker Buddies

Soft Trekker Breakfast with Most Amazing View

Soft Trekker Breakfast with Most Amazing View

Making Peanut Butter Cookies With My New Baking Buddy (iPad2)

One of the main reason buying an iPad is for baking!  I don’t need to print out any recipe any more!!  So happy about that.

Oopss.. my kitchen does look pretty messy

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Slightly alter the recipe from Land O’ Lakes.  Reduced the sugar and replaced butter with golden shortening.  This is the quickest cookie to prepared because you don’t have to cream sugar + butter for a long time by using shortening.  If you need to do some  quick baking, this is definitely the best choice!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar ( I reduced to 3/4 cup and still taste sweet enough)
  • 1/3 cup butter (I replaced with golden shortening)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth & creamy kind)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla ( I used slightly more – 1 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 cup of AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted this)

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Heat oven to 375F (I will reduce to 360F next time as cookies appears to be too brown from my new darker baking pan).   Combine brown sugar, shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl with spatula (the beauty of this recipe, don’t need to bring out my kitchen aid,  much easier to cleanup!)  Keep mixing until well blended.  Add egg and vanilla and continue to mix until well mixed.  Shift in flour in three additions and mix well with the butter mixture.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart.   I use disher for even portioning.  I am just loving my new cookies baking sheet because it has marked bottom to make evenly spacing cookies such a breeze now.  Flatten balls in criss-cross pattern with fork. Bake for 8 minutes or until edge are lightly browned.

Gingerbread Android – the edible android in contest ready state

Base on the previous post recipe, I have my 2nd half of gingerbread dough sitting in the freezer ready for contest release.  This is actually pretty nice, hugely cut down prep time making it possible to bake up these goodies on weekday during a rather busy week.  Actually the cooling time work out well that I could squeeze a few compiles and debug and fixed a couple bugs.

So I have taken suggestion to make the green outline version because they looks cuter and more like android.  In addition, also cut out the head and arms part to make chatty & arm waving version.   Unfortunately, I ran out of green frosting so I had to switch to just plain white.  How do u like the slight alteration?

Same template, new cut and endless option to play with the final decorated cookies.  Now thinking more about that. I should have prepared s script and create a “movie” by making slight movie and combine all …

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Here is the decorated yellow eyes android.  I couldn’t believe I actually ran out of candy in my house.  Had to use tiny chocolate chip morsels as buttons.  Still look ok i hope. Or do you think mini M&M would have been better?

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Here is the green outline version same as practice release.  No big change except I ran out of jelly beans so I have to switch to chocolate whoopers.  Still fun looking, actually I love the taste a lot more than jelly beans.

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Here are the assembled look – still drying out the frosting.  Seems hard but actually pretty soft and easily damaged at this point,   I did tear off some frosting on one had to do a repair.  Still notice the uneven line after my repair…

Waiting for the icing to dry and firm up.  See how the gingerbread androids look comparing to its original template.  Pretty close eh?

Bring all the them into office and ask for idea to tell a more interesting story.  Here is a fun one with Android “overdosed” on apple Winking smile

Androids eating too many apples ;-)  One is not feeling very and releasing excess apples in the bottle =P

My composition is a bit boring .. no story

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They are just pretty ordinary looking ones. But they taste great and it was  a ton of fun to make.  Go and try it, it was just a bit time consuming to cut out the cookies but otherwise, pretty easy recipe to make.  Highly recommend spending the extra effort to make the royal icing following previous post’s recipe.  I learned that from a wedding cake decoration class and find the consistency is the best and easiest to control.  The dried icing also has a little glossy look.  Well worth that effort.

Loving my new geek toy – mewboobi

MEWBOOBI is the name of my new acer aspire one netbook.  I have been using it for one week now and really liking it.  Originally, I thought I will not have much use of it, since I already have a laptop.   But it is so convenient and light and small, tat I have been carrying it around with me all day long.  I ended up reading a lot more pdf and geek blog/site every since using this.  I really don’t have any issue with keyboard layout and size of keyboard.  Maybe  I am used the Canadian (with extra French keys) with normal keyboard, switching to this smaller size netbook keyboard was actually not a huge change.

I am looking forward to use to display recipe as I am baking too!!