[Quick Fix] Pearl Barley Oat Porridge

We love having oat porridge for breakfast.

When we were on our honeymoon, I quickly got sick of full english breakfast by Day 4, but a warm bowl of oat porridge with honey, nuts and even the occasional honeycomb never fails to give me a warm, cozy start to the day 🙂

Oat porridge is healthy, easy and extremely versatile. I like making fruit versions when we have berries, peaches or apricots lying at home. But there was no fruits available this time, so I decided to make a pearl barley version while keeping the condiments simple.

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Ingredients for 1 serving:

Pearl Barley – 20g

Rolled or Steel Cut Oats – 20g

Fresh Milk/ Soy Milk/ Almond Milk – 180ml (depending on how thick you want your porridge)

Pinch of salt

Cinnamon Powder – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)

Nuts or Dried fruits

Drizzle of honey

Method:

1. Wash and soak Pearl Barley for 15 mins before boiling for 20-25 mins

2. Boil the liquid (I used Soy Milk) and oats on low-medium heat for about 2 mins

3. Add the plumped up pearl barley into the oats and simmer for another min 

4. Add a pinch of salt

 5. Place porridge in serving bowl and add cinnamon power, nuts, dried fruits and drizzle on some honey

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“She was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep–only soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that wide-gazing calm which makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child, such as we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in the earth or sky–before a steady glowing planet, or a full-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees over a silent pathway.” – George Eliot

[Cakes & Bakes] Vanilla Cupcakes with Honey Passionfruit Frosting

A relative back in Malaysia gave mum several dozens of homegrown passionfruit a week back and I inherited 10 of them.

I’m really lazy with my fruits (I often leave them untouched until they are no long able to be eaten), but I’m quite excited about creating some things with those passionfruit so I decide to freeze the pulp until I need them.

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And with a brush of coincidence, I came across a beautiful Vanilla Sponge Cake with Cream and Passionfruit recipe on Donna Hay magazine. If you’re keen in the recipe, it’s in the latest Fresh issue.

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I used the same recipe, but made 12 cupcakes instead and the Vanilla cupcake base were so amazing. Fluffy, fragrant and very… “eggy”.

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While I was about to start on the cream frosting, I realised that I was out of sour cream, so I decided to improvise on the frosting and took inspiration from my favourite food blogger for a Honey Frosting instead.

Just a note, I used only 2 cups of sugar instead of 3 because my food tasters have pretty low tolerance for sweetness. I’m glad I cut down the sugar because it would have been too sweet if I followed the recipe to a T.

With all these improvisation and deviation, the end product looked nothing like the beautiful sponge on the glossy page of the magazine, but I still liked them enough 🙂 The tangy passionfruit pulp cuts the sweetness of the honey frosting and the crunchy seeds helped to layer the texture.

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“The saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there’s nothing to make it last.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Dear John

[Cakes & Bakes] Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

My family members have been some of the best supporters for my bakes and I love making things they like, especially for special occasions.

Mum has always been a fan of chocolate banana cakes, especially the one from Secret Recipe. So I’ve long set my mind on baking a choco banana cake for her birthday 🙂

Searched through some recipes and finally decided to make a cupcake version instead as I really wanted to practice my piping.

I pretty much followed the recipe to a T (which is extremely simple) and the cupcakes turned out really moist and fragrant! Some things to share from the experience:

– Make sure the banana is ripe enough so that the aroma and taste are will not be overwhelmed by the chocolate

– I used Valhorna cocoa powder and the chocolate flavour is really rich and intense

– The cupcakes stay moist in the fridge and still tastes pretty good 3 days old

– If you’re lazy or have no time to prepare the frosting, it tastes pretty awesome as a chocolate banana muffin too!

– I sprinkled some chopped almonds on top of the frosting to create some contrast in terms of colour and the texture. The nutty flavour also helps to cut the richness of the cake and frosting

– Washing up after making chocolate-anything is such a back-breaking chore… But it’s worth it 🙂

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

[Moments] Ennui

Been extremely domestic these few days – resting, reading, cleaning the house, making meals, doing laundry.

It’s nothing exciting, really, except that the reason for our domestication was due to Wayne getting into a close-shaved accident.

But being at home, enjoying the breeze winding through the house, the gentle touches of the sunlight (which was also perfect for laundry), and doing almost mindless chores gave me some time to think about life.

Maybe it’s what the call quarter-life crisis. I’m extremely thankful for everyone and everything I have in my life right now but especially in the recent months, I haven’t been able to shake off that intense feeling of ennui.

I watch hours pass by at work, submissions made every other week, one meeting after another, weekends come and go. It’s really not too bad, but I haven’t been able to shake of the feeling that one day I should be doing something I’m truly passionate about, advocating for something I truly believe in and taking pride in my accomplishments.

I haven’t quite seen the light yet.

So in the meantime, I just let the feeling of ennui linger while I pray about it, as I cleared out some leftover apples from the fridge and made a pot of Apple and Red Dates Beverage to lift the mood.

Ingredients:
2L of water
5 Apples
40g of rock sugar (or to taste)
A handful of red dates
Some Chinese almonds (optional)

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“Life creates itself in delirium and is undone in ennui.” – Emil Cioran

[Moments] Spontaneity

While spontaneous moments are sometimes fun and exciting, I’m not one who embraces impromptu activities with arms wide open. In fact, I sometimes feel lost and aimless in unplanned moments. Or worse, when plans are disrupted.

But I’ve come to realise that it’s also moments like these which inspire creativity and encourage one to try out something new. Maybe because spontaneity carries with it, a certain sense of impulsivity and carelessness. You usually won’t think too much in moments of spontaneity.

Last Sunday, we had a whole series of activities line up but both of us woke up feeling unwell so all the plans got thrown off the track.

Came back from the clinic and had the urge to bake so that the Sunday could be a little more fulfilling.

So I turned to one of the quick-bake recipes which I’ve been wanting to try – Eric Lanlard’s Peanut Butter Blondies

And it was perfect for an impromptu bake because the ingredients were really simple and even more so, the baking process. And it smells so fantastic fresh out of the oven! What’s more, I got to share them with the lovely peeps at the office on Monday 🙂

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“Spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art.” – Oscar Wilde

[Cakes & Bakes] Banana Walnut Loaf

In case I’ve not confessed on the blog yet, I don’t cook all the lovely food you see on my Instagram – Wayne does.

So what do I do, besides eating and taking photos? I bake! Because I’m more of a sweet tooth compared to Wayne and I lurveeee a good after-meal treat 🙂 In case you’re interested, some snapshots of my very amateurish baking can be found on Instagram at #poppybake.

Recently, I’ve grown to like baking loaves. I first started with a Blackberry Lemon Yogurt Loaf and I was hooked by how easy it was to make, the heavenly aroma that flooded our kitchen when it was baking and how surprisingly nice it tastes! That, being the first time I make a loaf cake.

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So I decided to make one today for my family’s Fathers’ Day gathering at our house!

Found this recipe on Foodnetwork.com and it looks really quick and easy! I had less than 2 hours to spare so the prep time seemed perfect.

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The butter-sugar -vanilla-egg-banana mixture may seem a little runny when you’re first done with incorporating them, but after you fold in the flour mix and walnuts, the texture will turn into something that resembles more of a cake mix (as below). So don’t be taken aback when you first pop your mixing bowl out of the mixer!

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Alway remember the all important step of giving the loaf tin a good butter-up and it’ll make removing the loaf a whole lot easier 🙂 And don’t forget to rap the baking tin to remove the air bubbles!

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After my experience with the Blackberry Loaf, I’ve found that baking the loaf on the middle rack may brown the crust of the loaf a little too fast. Hence, I’ve decided to bake on the lowest rack instead, to allow enough time for the inside of the cake to cook thoroughly before the crust browns. And I’ll rotate the tin every 10 mins or so to let the heat even out.

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I love the cracks on the loaves because they are unique and gives them character – no 2 loaves look the same!

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I let it cool in the tin for an hour and on the rack for another hour before serving. You can even keep it in the fridge, cling-wrapped, and enjoy it for breakfast!

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My sister-in-law who adores banana cakes gave it a thumbs up! Except that she ate one of the “end” slices so she found the crust area a little too dry. I’m trying to find a way to solve that too and keep my cake more moist without loosing the flavor. Let me know if you have any tips!

I was intending to make a plain banana cake at first, but glad I threw in the walnuts because the contrast in the texture makes the cake a whole lot more interesting 🙂

Such an easy recipe, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it too! Go give it a shot! 😉

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