Kiki & Lala

Archive for October 2011

Here are some spooky pictures I took in a Halloween store in the East Village.

How was your Halloween?


My sour cream was about to expire and I had all the other ingredients on stock so I thought I’d bake this easy to make cake. I love making this because it makes my kitchen smell like autumn spice.  I really don’t know what autumn spice is supposed to smell like but in my Asian-bred mind, it smells cinnamon and nutty.  And that’s exactly what this cake is all about: cinammon, chopped walnuts, light brown sugar and a sprinkle of chocolate chips.    Because what’s a cake without a hint of chocolate right?

My cake fresh out of the oven.

And on the cake board.  (Sorry for the blurred pic, my camera was finally laid to rest so I’m using my Blackberry)

I saved a slice for you…look at the cinnamon and chocolate filling swirl through the cake. The cake actually came out lighter and a bit fluffy because I used eggs, butter and sour cream at room temperature.  You like?

Oh and that’s my kitchen in the background, in case you were curious.

This recipe was adapted from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker.

My colleague in the office brought a bunch of bananas because she wanted me to make her banana bread. And I’m happy to say it turned out quite good…and moist.

I wanted to show you a cross section of the bread.  Do you see the strawberry bits?

My office mate was thrilled.  She said I made her morning. 🙂  This baking gig is really becoming a joy!

Recipe was adapted from the Amateur Gourmet.  Recipe below.  I found it in my favorite baker site, Joy The Baker.

6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup plain yogurt (any fat content) or buttermilk

1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)

1/2 cup diced strawberries plus 1 strawberry very thinly sliced, for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts.  When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown.  Swirl the pan as the butter cooks.  When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl.  Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and yogurt or buttermilk.  Whisk in the mashed bananas.  When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients.  Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour.  Fold in the diced strawberries.  Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with thinly sliced strawberries.   Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Here are some recent conversations I’ve had with my eight year old.

While waiting for the driver to pick us up at the mall.
Rocio: Mom, how did we ever survive taking taxis?
Lala: You mean like in Singapore or HK?
Rocio: Yeah! It was so expensive.
Lala: Well, don’t think you ride the car here for free. I have to continuously pay for the gas, the toll, the driver and even the bank every month because I borrowed money to buy the car.
Rocio: So it’s like you pay everyday?
Lala: Of course…
Rocio: Oh my god… I would never survive being an adult!!
Lala: (smiles wisely) Oh you will…

This is what happens when you try to teach your kid to be thrifty when shopping.
Rocio: I think our house should have a big space to run around and a bamboo pole I can practice climbing.
Lala: Umm… OK… but I don’t plan on building a very big house.
Rocio: Why not?
Lala: Well, the bigger the house, the more expensive it’ll be.
Rocio: Yes, I know. But what if you got it like on sale?

I love how kids see possibility more than limitation.
We were walking out of church and some guy in the parking lot in a white Starex threw a piece of scrunched up paper out his window.
Lala: Nice! That guy just littered.
Rocio: I know it’s so bad. It’s so dirty. Why do people do that?
Lala: Because they’re lazy and not properly educated.
Rocio: Well, if I were to rule the Philippines, the first thing I would do is teach people that it’s bad to litter. Look at Singapore, they’re smaller than us but they’re so clean and the people are disciplined. It’s embarrassing!
Lala: True but you need to realize a smaller country is also easier to manage than a bigger one. Get it?
Rocio: Yes, Mom… But then I could make it like the States which is way bigger than the Philippines and still people there don’t litter so much.
Lala: (silent thought bubble) Damn she’s good.

Happiness is Dulce de Leche Cupcakes 🙂

I know, I know, I need to work on my cake decorating skills.  I wasn’t feeling very aesthetic then.  But these were delish if I may say so myself.   The recipe is from The Gourmet Cookbook but I got it from Joy The Baker (love her!).   Check out the recipe here.  Try making it and let me know how it goes.



This indian summer weekend was awesome  with cloudless skies and temps back up in the 80’s. So I jumped at an invitation to go hiking at the Delaware Water Gap.

It was a 7 mile hike with some pretty decent inclines.  When we reached the top, this serene panorama was waiting for us.   How picturesque is this?

And here I am disrupting the serene view.

On the way back was quite challenging because descending on rocky terrain is very difficult wearing just cross trainers protecting your feet.  But it was a nice, adventurous way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


Posted on: October 6, 2011




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