Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mid-autumn festival and its cakes.

Edit: I can't believe I forgot to mention, that the chinese character you see on the mooncake is "艾", which is the Ai in Aiclay if you write it in Chinese. :)

The Mid-autumn festival (or some call it the Moon festival, or Lantern festival, or Mooncake festival. Let's not bother with technicalities shall we?) was always one I remember fondly from my childhood.

Durian snowskin mooncake with durian mousse filling.

There is a hill beside my house, which my mom would bring me and my brother to when the sun went down on the day of the festival. It was a really pretty sight from far, with colourful, brightly-lit lanterns dotting the hill.

There was a certain air of excitement, especially when it was a particularly dark evening, and everyone's faces were hidden behind their lanterns. I would hold out my animal-shaped lantern (I believe rabbit was my favourite) happily as I joined the parade, with my little brother in tow.

Yam snowskin mooncake filled with sweet bean paste, and a white chocolate truffle centre.

When we got tired of showing off our lanterns, we would sit on the ground and play with candles and fire. I remember that was when I first learnt how to use wax to make a candle stand upright.

Strawberry snowskin mooncake with lotus paste filling and a salted yolk centre.

Burning your fingers with the hot wax was a necessary risk, and we would write words and draw cartoons with the dripping wax. It was the one day that mom actually approved of us handling naked flames, and me and my brother made sure to take full advantage of it.

Snowskin mooncakes measuring at 0.8cm or 0.3inches across.

Now that I think back, I feel sorry for whoever had to scrap off all the dried (but colourful) wax from the ground the morning after.

In the present day, the festival is celebrated mostly the same way. Of course you've got much more sophisticated animal lanterns, with electronically-powered moving paws and music blaring out from their battery-stuffed tummies.

Call me traditional, but I very much prefer the paper lanterns with the soft flame flickering through. Knowing that your lantern could be burnt to papery ashes by a toppled candle just added to the fun of it all!

As I grew up, I started to remember and celebrate festivals mainly with the food it is associated with, more than anything else. :(

Baked mooncake with sweet bean paste and yolk centre.

 Now, Mooncake festival is a lot less about lantern-carrying or drawing wax cartoons, and a lot more about heading down to the city's Mooncake Bazaar and sampling all the mooncakes they have, from the wacky (caramelised cheese, peanut butter, roasted pork) to the traditional (lotus paste, bean paste).

Now that can't be good for the Chinese culture (or my tummy).

Baked mooncakes measuring at 0.8cm or 0.3inches across.

Next year, I will abandon all worries of looking like an overgrown lantern-carrying kid and burnt fingers, and rediscover the childhood joys of the festival.

For now, I should really finish up the mooncakes which are still sitting in my fridge. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cakes as round as the moon.

Wow, I really am cutting it close to getting this blog entry up with just 15 minutes to spare to the end of Mid-autumn Festival (中秋节).

Here is a sneak peek of some miniature mooncakes. In case you think I've totally lost it with the bad focus of the photo, I've applied an oil painting filter on it. :)

I just wrote a long essay about my fond memories of the festival, but let's leave it for the day I post the rest of the photos of the miniature mooncakes,shall we? My long stories are usually a lot more digestible along with photos to distract you haha. :)

Happy Mid-autumn Festival to all who celebrates it! :)


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pass those chips!

(skip to the shop!)

I wonder if it's just me, but I always have this insatiable craving for a bag of potato chips after a hearty meal. And that is just crazy! It means on top of the calories just consumed, my stomach is telling me to feed it another load of fat and salt. :(

Before I launch into a lengthy rant about my eating habits, let me show you some pictures from Bangkok  which I just returned from! :)


Ahem, so that wasn't just some photos eh? -sheepish. 

Now here's a story behind this last photo.

Me and the boy were walking along the crowded street near the train station, where many vendors had laid out blankets to display their goods on. Amongst them were usual items like clothes, toys, keychains and the usual touristy fare. And then around the corner, this gem of a stall appeared.

The man wearing the red-white cap is the maker of all these fabulous miniature leather shoes. Spot the ken modelling his shoes! Awesomely cute! :) The guy was incredibly humble, and he smiled widely when I asked if I could take some photos.

Knowing that we were from Singapore, he revealed that his shoes are also for sale there (brought over by a local Singaporean), and they are selling for SGD$12 each. If you see the handpainted sign, one shoe is selling for only Thai Baht 29, which translates to less than SGD$2! The profit margin of the Singaporean 'importer' is crazily huge! Being a fellow crafter myself, this made me feel rather sad for the Thai maker that someone else is making so much money off his creations.

But he seemed so happy-go-lucky just to be surrounded by his creations, and genuinely seemed more thankful that his shoes were seen by more people around the world, than about the vast price differences. Such is the power of passion for creating. :)

Oh, and of course I purchased a pair of shoes from him! :)

Now back to those chips.

When I was exploring on Flickr for images of real-life potato chips for inspiration, I chanced upon many photos of home-baked chips. Now that's interesting, and definitely sounds a lot healthier than manufactured, mass-fried chips. 

How unrealistic that there isn't any oil stains huh?

Each potato chip is about 0.5cm in average diameter and is too thin to be measured for thickness. :)
Available in the shop.

Now seriously, pass those chips already! :)