Saturday, July 11, 2015

Savour - Petite Gateau Class (Melbourne)

I spent a pretty large proportion of my time last year baking quite avidly. Cupcakes, macarons, cakes, bread, failed cakes, failed macarons, more failed cake attempts... you know the drill. Ever since moving out to Kingaroy and starting work, I also (finally) began to watch MasterChef. It was on one of these episodes where I first heard and found out about Kirsten Tibballs, a pastry chef who presented one of her entremets 'Eve' to the contestants in either a master class or a pressure test (I can't remember which).

I was pretty blown away by the complexity of the challenge (you can read the recipe here) and noticed that she had the Savour logo on her uniform. 
Kirsten Tibballs in the Master Chef kitchen with her cake 'Eve'
After some quick googling, I found out that Savour was actually a chocolate and patisserie school that offered an array of very professional looking classes! By that, I'm talking about using those $100 silicon moulds you see on masterchef, blast chillers, spray guns for chocolate, mountains of chocolates for tempering etc. Unable to contain my excitement, I told a close friend about how I would really love to do a class at Savour some day. The main thing stopping me was the costly price tag on these classes (a day class was about $260, or a 2 day course for $500). I even thought the school was just in Brisbane (how convenient right?).

So some time later, this said close friend I spoke to surprised me with a gift voucher for a cooking class that was contributed to from a few friends! THERE'S NOTHING STOPPING ME NOWWWW!!!!...right?


When I looked once again at the website to pick a date, it suddenly dawned upon me that it was in Brunswick VIC and not Brunswick Street QLD. Genius as usual... What else to do but plan a Melbourne trip this year with mum and do the class while I was there, right?

So after months of anticipation, I was finally here sitting in the Savour meeting room with this baby in front of me, excited out of my wits!

It was the best ever class. The class I went for was the Petit Gateau class, which basically means 'small cake' in French. These are the pretty little mousse based cakes you might get at a patisserie or at a fancy buffet.

They got us straight into things by splitting us into groups of 4, working together to measure out the ingredients of the multiple elements in each dessert. Cream by the litres... YUmMMm...

I just loved the fact that I was in a commercial kitchen, with all this massive equipment and fancy ingredients left, right and centre. I managed to snap a few photos through the day when I remembered  while I tried to stop myself from grinning ear to ear non-stop.
This is the said silicon mould that costs about a hundred, and that funnel dispenser contraption that costs twice as much

More than half of the attendees were actually professional bakers or pastry chefs who were there on professional development! So I must say that while there is a lot of guidance and information provided during the class to help you through and minimise failure, it would be easy to make mistakes if you weren't surrounded by members in your team that were professional. There were many times I was just happy to watch one of my team members who was a Malaysian girl who had been working as a pastry chef for about 4 years.
Our main teacher for the day.

We worked together to make three different petit gateaus, each dessert having at least 5 elements to prepare. I must admit, it started to feel a little like a MasterChef pressure test right before lunch because we were running a bit behind time.
And THIS is what you use to spray a chocolate coating all over a cake. Straight from Bunnings
 Enough boing technical information. I was surprised how much this class just invigorated and reignited that little flame of wanting to learn something. Over these months I've been feeling a bit dispassionate towards a lot of things, but that's for another blog entry.
How do you transfer mousse cakes onto their cardboard bases without touching and messing up the sides?
 Toothpicks of course!

That plastic funnel is a cheaper cousin of the metal one in the photo above. It's apparently $50 or something. This was a chestnut and passionfruit mousse 

Shiny balllsssss...... White chocolate mousse with mandarin cremeux 
We each brought home 13 of the cakes we created. SCOREEEEE
Right now it seems that working as a pastry chef may be a very valid retirement plan :P

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tomorrow... May Never Come

As I curl up on the couch, with the four airline blankets keeping my legs, toes and shoulders warm sipping my cup of coffee and reading, I can’t help but go ‘ahhh’ and smile to myself. (Note: My parents are avid plane blanket collectors, Thanks to them and  Scoot, Singapore Airlines, China Air and Cathay Pacific, my legs and shoulders are warm).

But I know that this worldly comfort will not last. I’m very aware of the ‘extension’ God granted me here in Kingaroy over the past few months, and I sure bloody hope that I’m doing a semi-decent job not wasting this opportunity. Am I to use the time to serve more? Talk to more people? Connect on a deeper level with more people? Folks, it’s not like it’s terminal cancer or anything, but I believe many of us will be familiar with the feeling of knowing that something (good) is coming to an end, and then proceeding to ‘make the best out of your time’. 

E.g. You know your holiday is ending in a few days, and with that realisation, chioooong to go and see/eat/do all the things you should have started doing earlier. 

Or many of my friends who have studied away from Singapore may empathise with this - knowing that you are graduating at the end of the semester/year, and will be leaving Australia for good, you then proceed to book in ‘catch-up’ brunches, lunches, dinners, suppers at every opportunity and waking moment you have with people you were never close to, or would never have bothered to meet up with. 

Perhaps it’s only a mere glimpse or snippet or what it must feel like for someone who is told they have terminal cancer, or for someone on death row. 

You know you have a limited time frame, and therefore the only logical thing to do is to make the most out of it. Right? 

It’s my human nature to push everything to the last minute, and to only do something when I realise time is almost up. Similarly to how I always leave my applications, or work readings, or general ‘should-have-done-earlier’ things to do to the Sunday night just when I realise Monday is coming. I’m not saying everyone is a procrastinator, I’m just saying I am one, regardless of whether I suddenly realise I have 1 hour, or 1 week, or 2 months. 

Just one of my many weaknesses and flaws, that I’ll hopefully get rid of…

Tomorrow, that is. 

Friday, March 27, 2015


The past few months have been what felt to me like a slight whirlwind of things, without being over dramatic. Working in the education department has allowed me to take holidays off during the school break, something I've been very thankful for over the past couple years. I get to almost take 8 weeks off from work at times without compromising my annual pay, how awesome is that?

Anyways, the holiday that recently passed were probably one of the most challenging ones - mentally, emotionally, physically. I questioned myself so many times during these couple of months what my true level of resilience was. Resilience is something spoken about very often at work in Education, mostly spoken about in the context of a child. A child with low resilience might do some work with an OT or with a group of other children in order to develop and train themselves.

In my context, as stressor after stressor popped up, I didn't crumble, but I didn't function well either. I was exhausted mentally and couldn't really find the energy to do anything else but let my brain zone out when I had a chance. Perhaps the Australian work force has indeed been too soft on me, and I have, over the years, lost the ability to handle and respond effectively to stressful events. The things that broke me down were confrontations, or the anticipation that one might happen at any moment. The feeling on being on edge most of the time, with something looming at the back of my head was a very different experience to my carefree life in Australia.

Carefree life. I think I fully appreciate and understand that term now when I actually am living one.

Just check out the view of the sunset I get from my current home! You know how people say something has a 'magnificent view' or a 'breathtaking view' when they look out during a holiday? Well imagine having that all the time!

I have never been one of those who oo-ed and ah-ed at views or would ever think of paying for a 'room with a view'. My mum always never understood that and I suppose that influenced my view on views (hurhur pun intended). And I suppose being brought up in Singapore, there never was much of a view that would allow that much sky and nature.

Feel that warm sunshine on your face right now...

So after a rather tiring holiday, I returned to a couple more weeks of chaos before moving to an extremely gorgeous place where the views are amazing, the house is amazing, and I feel like my holiday has begun, and I'm thanking God for every single minute.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Return to Singapore December 2014

This was a post I had typed up on the plane back to Singapore two months ago:

One more trip back to Singapore to escape the summer heat in Brisbane, and I find myself getting more and more lost in my motherland. A couple of trips back I actually got lost in Singapore and had an episode where I went to the wrong MRT station (Farrer Rd instead of Farrer Park). That was when I first thought, oh dear, I’m really becoming a foreigner in my own country. This time, I’m finding myself more often than not, taking a long time to manage the Singapore coins when it comes to paying ever since we’ve had the change in coins some time ?last year. I am no longer able to pay without looking, and look like an absolute tourist.

When does your home no longer become your home? Or, when does some place become your home? I’ve asked this questions numerous times ever since I left for UQ in 2009. Very quickly, a couple of years have now become almost 6 years, and I’m sure, might pretty soon get close to a decade. What did I figure out in the 6 years?

I figured that at some stage, home is where your partner is.
But then I figured that home is still where your family is.
I also figured that home is where you are feeling most independent, and to me this means where my car sits.
Home appears to be where my 3G line is.
Home might be where your friends are, but what if your friends are ones that will leave and return to Singapore for good? Then perhaps you are left with none.

This will probably be one of those meaningless, aimless, terribly written posts that have no clear subject matter, direction or conclusion. That’s probably a pretty accurate reflection of my sentiments and brain right now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Passion, and rain

Right now, rain is what I am feeling so passionate about. IT just invigorates me, quicker than any caffeine, aspartame or sugar can. The smell of rain immediately brings a smile to my face. The sound of a storm just fills me with so much excitement I start flapping my hands like a 5 year old on Christmas Day.

Thank God for rain! This town has desperately been needing rain for the crop.

My colleague mentioned this planner called the Passion Planner just an hour ago, and I saw it come up on my feed. The creator has been so generous to share her hard work with (freeloaders) like us, with a simple request that we share her Kickstarter video right here: So here it is, everyone needs a bit of a kickstart and a redirection once in a while hey?

So here it is, everyone needs a bit of a kickstart and a redirection once in a while hey? Find out more about it here:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wanderlust.. NOT

It's been far too long since this drafted post has been sitting in my blog. A full 5 weeks in fact! I cannot believe that it has already been 5 weeks since Nat has come and gone, and that I'm already halfway through yet another Term of work. 
The only decent photo of Nat and I at the top of Mount Ngun Ngun
You know how there has recently been that trend going around about being thankful or being grateful or counting your blessings etc, you get my drift? Perhaps more and more people are feeling that sense of loss, dissatisfaction, discontent, unhappiness and all despite all the luxuries, blessings and comforts that we have. If you are reading this, it means that you're already fortunate enough to actually have access to a computer, internet, the world wide web and its endless supply of knowledge and entertainment. Should you be unhappy or complaining about anything?

View from the top of Mount Ngun Ngun
I'm thankful to say that all I can feel is thankful and grateful for what I have and live in right now. It occurred to me a while ago that this current stage of life that I am experiencing, is pretty much a living, breathing, ongoing working holiday. Almost 6 years ago when I left to study in Brisbane, is when that holiday actually started, and I'm glad to say it hasn't ended yet. 

Having the luxury of finishing work before 5 (or 4 if I really wanted to), return home to rest and recuperate before heading to the gym, and having the long amazing mornings on the weekends to bake to my hearts content, to try the most annoying and failure-prone recipes, and then being able to use my skills to raise funds for Destiny Rescue is a privilege and luxury I am almost certain I would not have if I had remained in Brisbane, let alone Singapore. 

Arranging mini m&ms wasn't as tedious as I expected

Ticking that one off the bucket list

Everyday that I wake up and know that I am able come back from a day of work and not be completely spent and exhausted, is a day that I am thankful for. To be able to come home and have not just time, but energy to read and learn more about God is something I never did much of unfortunately through my years of life (even in Brisbane). It's an opportunity that I couldn't be more thankful for, knowing how easily God gets suffocated out of our lives once other distractions come in. Having people around that are like-mindedly interested in learning about God makes it all the better in a somewhat regional/rural town. 

The joys and thrills I have had from waking up to frosty or foggy mornings as such (we're moving out of winter so the last of the frost has been seen I presume)

Captured on my car window when Nat was here

Frost in Queensland??? Now that is something special!

I feel like I'm on this holiday, this super extended holiday that has allowed me to still earn my keep, and yet enjoy the luxuries of time, space, fresh air, comfort. Until there is a greater need to move, I know my days here are numbered and this is definitely an experience I do not simply want to take for granted and forget. I know a lot of people, friends and even my family, think that this life I have now is nothing great, and that I am just being a country turtle unaware of the 'opportunities' or 'lifestyle' of the city that may seem so enticing. But I say, it truly comes down to a matter of priorities and preferences, and who is not to say that I am the most happy here? I am living in a nice comfortable bubble right now, and I know that will not last forever. So I will savour it and encourage others to take it on if they ever get the chance. 

Monday, June 09, 2014


After spending about a quarter of a century on this Earth, I think this is the first time that I have become so in love and completely madly crazy over something that I can perhaps, officially call a hobby. 

What are your hobbies?

We all remember hearing that question either as a child, during an awkward group introduction, or a an orientation of some sort with strangers or acquaintances. Most of my life I've said that playing the guitar was my hobby, although I remember never being able to answer that question with full conviction at any point of time . Yeah I like playing the guitar, but I'm not really obsessed with it, neither do I do it every other day (now maybe I'll pick it up once a month or so).

Last year and this year though, I finally did find a hobby which I have grown to love and hate with a passion at times. Love to do it, but hate it when I'm in the midst of a marathon bake or when I'm baking for an 'event' of sorts. But I know that I ultimately love it, because,after throwing my hands up in the midst of a chaotic bake session (like when I was baking about 100 cupcakes to sell at the markets last month) and swearing off butter, eggs and flour forever, I jumped straight back into it the next day to bake another batch of cupcakes for church on Sunday. (You'd have thought I were nuts if you had seen how crazy it looked on a friday night with multiple bowls of batter, stacks of cupcakes and multiple piping bags of icing strewn around the kitchen and dining hall)

Now I feel like I have withdrawal symptoms when I go a weekend without getting my hands in the oven. Every weekend if I'm free I want to get my hands into something new and exciting, whether it be making chocolate decorations or trying to find that perfect sponge recipe (I still haven't), I've found myself quite madly obsessed with it (so much so that I did at one stage, google the Le Cordon Blu courses to contemplate a course in Patisserie)

Even now as I finish tying this the craving to get my hands in making some choux pastry....