Monday, December 17, 2007

Mellow Days and Evenings

The days are short - 7.50am till 4.40pm -- and the sun shines like a shy maiden (now you see her, now you don't). Daily temperatures tell us winter is here but there's no snow on the ground yet.

(Right) The bakery round the corner from the apartment building where I live.

Many bakeries in Switzerland like to decorate the store facade according to the seasons and festivities. They sometimes remind me of the edible house in the story 'Hansel and Gretel'.

(Above) The children's books in German I borrowed from the library and have read. I love the illustrations.

Learning German is hard-going if one does not use it every day. However, I enjoy choosing and reading children's books in the language. My other half helps me with the vocabulary and turns of phrases.

(Right) Where the lake in Cham pours into a river, there is a fishermen's boat-house with a backdrop of a church spire.

Other than writing and reading, I take walks in the lake park. When the day is sunny, despite the cold, lots of people stroll about - mothers with prams and children, people with their dogs, and a motley crew of other folk.

At the beginning of winter, a flock of greylag geese made a pit-stop at the Cham lake park. What's the marching soundtrack?!

For me, the best part of the lake park is the wildlife, the many swans, ducks, geese and water fowl that change their feathers with the seasons - just like fashion!

(Right) This could be Small Duck, actually a female Common Pochard (Tafelente in German), all grown up now and probably has a mate (the rusty-headed chap below). There are around 20 of her breed, both males and females, on the river and lake these days - Small Duck is no longer one of a kind.

Nearby is a yoga school, the building of which is fronted by a restaurant that was probably a milk-collection place - hence perhaps the cow statue?

Now that this is such a mish-mashy post, tell me which recipe you want and I will blog it:

Lemon iced cupcake

Naked coconut-milk cupcake

English scone (below right)

Or, lemon curdy pudding (below)?

Here's the recipe for Coconut-Milk Cupcake as requested by Cynthia:

80g butter
5 tbs sugar
7g packet of vanilla sugar or 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
1 egg
4 tbs coconut cream or coconut milk
3 tbs plain yoghurt
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream sugar into butter. Add vanilla, egg, yoghurt and coconut cream. Mix gently. Mix baking powder and salt into the flour and mix the whole lot gently into the butter mixture. Spoon 3/4 full into paper cups in medium cupcake or muffin tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 degrees C for 22 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes 7 or 8 cupcakes.

Note: To make it extra special, top each cupcake with a few chunks of white chocolate before baking.

For Wonda, the Lemon Iced Cupcake:

For the cupcakes, use the cupcake recipe above, except that instead of the coconut cream, use 1 more egg, 4 tbs lemon juice and 1/2 cup of ground almond or hazelnut.

For the icing, use a handmixer to whip up:

100g butter
1 cup icing (powdered) sugar
3 tbs lemon juice
(add a drop of food colouring if you like)

Ice cupcakes when they've become cool.



Kenny Mah said...

Oh I miss Europe so during wintertime! And that cow reminds me of the multi-coloured bears in Berlin (their state mascot of sorts)... scattered all over the city.

I'm sure snowfall will come soon, dear. :)

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Kenny. Yes, many painted cow statues are dotted all over Switzerland. Your Berlin bears remind me of the Munich lions. Outside trendy men's stores, the lion gets bedecked in 'gay' colours. ;-)

I love to LOOK at the snow but I'm not sure I like the fuss over footwear when it has snowed. (You know how most Asians love to just pad outside in their slippers!)

Tunku Halim said...

Sounds like a lovely place to live. Maybe we can do a house swap sometime? :)

Argus Lou said...

That's a fantastic idea, TH! I'm sure my other half would go for it, too.
We can have 10 days in Tasmania - wowee!

Cynthia said...

I love catching up with what you're up to and the naked coconut milk cupcake would be my favourite.

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Cynthia! It's always nice to see you here. And I love visiting your blog, too.

Will add the coconut-milk cupcake. Hope you'll enjoy it.

wonda said...

The bakery looks like an edible doll house which is nice to eat and play. Lemon iced cupcake recipe, please!

Argus Lou said...

Yes, Wonda, I have to remind myself not to chew on other people's house. ;-P
Lemon iced cupcake recipe coming right up!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

I love the picture of the bakery, Argus! If I were there, I'd probably set up a stool across the street and sit and stare and hopefully get a whiff of the freshly baked goodies. :-D

Argus Lou said...

Yes, Lyrical. I like to look at the Christmas-decorated bakeries and other Xmas lights in the small towns we pass through on the way to Zurich. The Swiss sure like to make things look pretty.

If you pass one on foot, you can smell the goodies. Even the bakery section in supermarkets smell heavenly. :-)

wonda said...

Thank you so much, Argus! I'll try the recipe when I am in the pink. Err... can I omit the yogurt and subsitute with milk? BYW, I like the cute illustrations on the book covers. They sure reflect the atmosphere around you in Switzerland.
Off I go to church for Sunday service and Christmas celebration.

Xeus said...

Merry Xmas to you and R, ARRRRgus@!

Argus Lou said...

Yes, Wonda, you can use milk instead of yoghurt, just lessen the amount slightly.

At our free small-town library, I choose my children's books very carefully, according to the charm of the illustrations and text-difficulty level, as if they're for my (invisible) kids -- but they're actually for me. (*cue: evil laughter*)

Thanks, Xeus! Same to you and E, and all the doggiess$ss. ^_^

wonda said...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Ada masak apa special?

Argus Lou said...

Wonda, I was at my parents-in-law's house over Christmas. Baked for them some macadamia and cashew nut butter cookies.

They stuffed me with roast chicken, panfried rabbit, preserved meats, lentil soup with sausage and bacon, applecake and cookies. ^_^

wonda said...

Wow! You had a spread! I think it's been 20 years since I last ate rabbit meat (rabbit meat satay!). Happy New Year 2008 to you and your other half!

Argus Lou said...

Wonda, the spread was spread over 3 days, thank goodness. ;-)
I too ate rabbit satay a long time ago and found it too soft and flavourless. I don't cook rabbit in our home (born in Year of Rabbit! Besides, they're cute!) so my other half pestered his mom for it in HER house. I still don't see the point in eating rabbit - it tends to be dry and flavourless (hubby thinks the flavour is nice though). I prefer chicken any day.

WokandSpoon said...

Hello there! Hope you had a good Christmas and Happy New Year!

Argus Lou said...

Hi, WokandSpoon. Thanks. Hope your new year has begun well, too.

wonda said...

I'll go for turkey anytime but it's hard to get it in the local stores or supermarkets. BTW, what rice did you use to cook nasi briyani?

Argus Lou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Argus Lou said...

Turkey is relatively cheaper and quite widely available here. Ostrich comes next.

I used basmati rice. Since my friend didn't have star anise and turmeric powder, we used just a stick of cinnamon and several cloves for the spicy fragrance. And butter instead of ghee. My friend's family liked the raisins and cashewnuts in the biryani.

wonda said...

You can get basmati rice there? Over here, it's even more expensive than the Japanese rice.

wonda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Argus Lou said...

Yes, it's about RM10 for 1kg in Switz. Not sure about the price in Germany. Japanese rice is much more expensive here, almost double.

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)