Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Selamat Hari Raya. Maaf Zahir Batin (not too late to say so, right?)

I managed to make kuih makmur this year! Incredibly proud of this feat! Heeheee... and I think I was the one who finished off the majority of it anyway. But since I already know how to make it and I still have the ingredients, which is incredibly simple and minimal.. I can whip up a batch anytime I please! Weeee... Well, granted it is not perfect but it tastes and looks like kuih makmur and it is yummy, so I am happy.

Sejak awal Ramadhan lagi saya bercita-cita untuk membuat kuih makmur ni. Googled up the recipe, asks around from friends, getting tips and tricks here and there for the simplest yet most delish recipe for the little round tikes. Heee..

Here's what you would need:
  • Plain flour
  • Ghee, at room temperature (some recipes use butter or margarine but what I've heard is that ghee keeps the dough softer)
  • Peanuts (roasted lightly without oil and then beat them up to bits! Depending on preference, it's a nicer crunch if you don't beat them up too much and leave them a bit coarse)
  • Coarse sugar (mix this with the bashed up peanuts to make the filling)
  • Icing sugar
  • Optional: a wee bit of salt
The first step:
Cook the flour. Dry fry it in a wok, meaning no oil. Basically just heat it up and stir and stir. Until when? Hah, good question! Heee..I was wondering that myself.   Some say to stir up it is lightly browned. My SIL says to stir until it feels light and airy. Some said to stir with a little bit of peanut oil or ghee.

What I did was:  I basically stirred until it was nicely heated overall. It didn't go brown (impatient me). And I didn't stir with any oil. This step is supposedly so that it won't feel so floury when eaten and won't stick to your mouth (yeah right).

Once the flour has been fried, it's time to make the dough.

A friend told me that an easy method to remember is for every one cup of ghee (or butter or margarine), use three cups of flour.  It doesn't matter what cup you use, as long as you use the same cup to measure both ingredients.

This measurement did not work for me actually!  I found that at 3 cups of flour, my dough was still gooey and runny. So I added probably another 2 cups of flour.  I think it is because the ghee that I used was semi-melted, some bits were still solid. So my original one cup of ghee was actually more than one cup.

 Mix the flour and ghee and a bit of salt if you want, until it forms a nice dough. By nice, I mean, not too soft and not too hard (tough) but nice enough to be able to mix by hand without any gooey bits and not sticking to your hands. This takes practice actually. I guess once you've made enough you will know by heart what the perfect dough looks and feels like.

Then, the fun part! Mengkasi bulat-bulat. And oh, I put my filling in the middle.  My first batch was a bit too brittle and floury.  The bottoms went flat, which meant they were still too soft.  Thankfully, it was just a small test bunch.

I put the remainder of my dough in the fridge and left it there for two days (since I didn't yet have time to make anymore) and this actually helped make the dough tougher and more rigid.  For the second try, I decided to mix in the peanut and sugar mixture with the whole dough, instead of just having the filling in the middle.  And this made a whole good difference as well.  It was less floury to the bite.

Second round of mengkasi bulat-bulat (hee..) and I decided to make them smaller this time. Easier to eat, not too much of a mouthful of flour. Then bake them for around 30 minutes at 170deg C.

Once they are done. Leave them to cool and then cover them with a generous dusting of icing sugar. And voilaaaa! We have our kuih makmur :)

Baking is such a beautiful and therapeutic act that I wonder why I don't do it more often. Well, I know why actually. Because I will usually end up eating the whole thing!  It's art and science (and luck!) rolled into one.  It's chemistry and feel. It requires patience and consistency. Learning and trying again.  And the satisfaction you get at the end.. priceless.

Must must bake again soon. xx

Friday, September 14, 2012

On the subject of Education

I have always believed in the importance of education.  I am a self confessed nerd.  For the most part, I enjoyed school. I loved/love learning. I love books. I enjoyed uni. I enjoyed (for the most part) teaching in uni. And interacting and learning from the students as well.

But now I am faced with new territory: How do I get my children to love learning as well?

My daughter who is now in Primary 1 loves her games and toys and tv. A little too much, that it is quite a challenge to get her to concentrate and focus on her schoolwork.  Homework time can be such a challenge to mommy's patience level. To get her to get it done is like running in a steeplechase race - having to jump hurdles, run in puddles and all the while looking back to see time inching closer and closer by the second. A bit too dramatic you may say? Well, yes..the kid is very dramatic so mom has to do her best too.

In my search for ways to entice my darling daughter into the direction of learning, I have come across many methods and techniques, advice and ideologies, suggestions and feedback.  I have read about love and logic, homeschooling and unschooling, notebooking and lapbooking. I've downloaded worksheets. I have entertained the idea of multimedia programs such as Score A and TutorTV and TutorSpree .  Still, I do not know which is best to suit the personality and character of my budding learner.

My father is pushing for me to send the dearie for tuition classes and find some
home tutors , which is one idea that I am, for now, not very keen on. I am weary of the style and technique and quality of the teachers themselves.  I admit, there are some very talented teachers out there.  And I was priviledged to have been taught by some of them.  I believe that the issue I need to work on is the darling's attention span and how to get her to focus better. And for now, I do not believe that sending her off for additional classes will help much.

In the teacher-parent meeting a few months back, the class teacher was repeatedly asking me  where we lived. I think she was trying to let us on about sending Yasmin to her tuition classes as well.

What should I do? Take away her Nintendo, limit computer time (already done) (to which she tells me, she will plot her revenge on me..), lock her in her room until she finishes reading her books?  I am well aware that learning happens all the time.  And this is what I love in the homeschooling and unschooling philosophies.  There is no need for too much rules and regulations and schedules and structure. No making children feel that it is a competition, who is the best. No making them feel that they are bad if they don't score that elusive A.

This is what I need to work on. To make her feel that learning is natural, it is a part of life, that score and grades aren't everything. To make her love finding out something new.

Any ideas and suggestions for me?