Chocolate Almond (London)

The ingredients:

- 250 grams butter

- 60 grams icing/castor sugar

- 360 grams multi purpose flour

- 30 grams cake flour mix

- 10 grams custard floor mix

- 1 tea spoon vannila extract

- 2 egg yolks

- 500 grams almond (roasted and cooled)

- 500 grams (your favourite) semi-sweet cooking chocolate & 1 table spoon butter (to be melted in a double boiler)

- some almond bits

How to make it:

(1) Beat sugar and butter till all mixed and fluffy

(2) Add egg yolks to the batter, fold a bit more.

(3) Add vannila extract, and fold some more.

(4) Add all the dry ingredients (flour), mix well into a soft dough.

(5) pinch a thumb size amount of dough, place inside it the roasted almond, close over it and shaped it into a longish ball.

(6) Bake for about 17 minutes in 300 F oven.

(7) Totally cool the cookies, before dipping it all in melted chocolate.

(8) Place the cookies in paper cup, and sprinkle on top of it with almond bits.

(9) Done ;)

Good Luck Folks

 

 

All the best folks.

The longest road trip ever taken!

In two weeks we will leave Ohio, our base for the longest road trip we have ever taken thus far. We will back track to Kuala Lumpur, where in exactly six months we are scheduled to arrive.  This trip has been everything we think it to be and more.  From the shore of the Hudson River to a California beach – “Coast to coast of the USA”, Rez said.  All modes of transportation, and with every cent in our pockets.  We started with Europe; with Paris as our 1st landing European airport. 

During our entire stay in Paris my son kept saying, “I can’t believe we are in Paris. It is like being in a 3D movies.” That is it, the reason we are now on the road. We even got a plane ride cancellation from British Airline. That was headache giving situation. We spent entire morning in London hunting for British Airline Office. Ground travel agents in the city were either not helpful or unable to help, especially when they knew we booked our flight online.  Expedia, the online online travel agent did not respond to our phone request to get back to us and get us on another flight to Ohio.  I was also calling expedia with international roaming on Malaysian phone. It cost the bomb. We had to go to Heathrow to get to BA office. We finally arrived on March 2nd to the Ohio Valley.

Added in KL after 20th August 2012:

Then we packed again and be on our way to DC & NYC, to LA and New Mexico. At the height of summer, in mid August, after 14 days of Ramadhan fasting in North America we headed home. My son said, “I don’t want to go home.” Same old Rezuan. Now he is going to be “homesick” again, but this time of his USA family and friends.

Living in enchanted future

Once again I found myself at the stationnary area of a local book store. Those pretty prints and ribbon tied paper stacks kept calling my name. I ignored them all. Now this next one is harder to ignore. Beautifully bound journals. Romantics, philosofical, funny, work of arts on their covers.  As your fingers touch their covers, your mind are transported to so exciting days ahead. Enthralled, I made promises: I will write my plan in this one – of geometrical art on it’s cover. I will write my adventures. My thought. I will write a moving poem and my first novel. Ahhh what a dream life mine would be. I will write a novel that rivals  Harry Potter, the next Good Earth of Pearl S. Buck. I shall truly live my dream of being a rwiter. My life will be exciting again.

The lure of freshly minted journals of the coming years is intoxicating. And if you get one in July, you will have six full months to have this exciting anticipation while waiting for the coming year. Six full months to have amazing dream and make detail plans.

Meanwhile changing seasons are passing by, and as in my case changing cities too.

From forever summer days of Kuala Lumpur brilliant garden with bloming flowers of such as hibiscus and the water lily:

To colours of the Ohio’s Spring.

I’m already surounded by living inspiration and living the dream life. On the road, meeting loved ones face to face.   And yet imagining writing my future life in that 2012 journal,  included of course: writing a sensational novel seems to be so enchanting. I want this 2012 journal, I feel devoid, incomplete, without it.

This musing bring me to light another habit, of not fully living in the present. Of my tendency past memories. Of over dependency on my camera to capture these memories instead of fully experiencing life as it is. The fact is that so very often, my best moment in life goes (digitally) unrecoded. It is now in my bone, part in what is of my heart. Tears and laughters. These are seeds of my inspiration that brings words to my thought. There is still much to learn to live in the present time. Not just in task oriented mode but truly with heart and mind.

Then perhaps,it is time this first novel gets to be written … starting today. With pen and paper, any paper.

Wishing everyone a fabulous day, from the Ohio Valley.

~Bareheart.

p/s I passed the 2012 journal. My son totally disagreed with me to get one more notebook to write on. Too many already, laying around, mostly with empty pages. Time to start filling them up.

Practicing saying “Au revoir mon amour”

What better way to say goodbye than saying “Au revoir mon amour” in Paris itself. Not that it matter there was no one to say to, although the Recidence Albert staff were the closest being one. When we came down to get the hot water for our coffee and hot chocolate on the morning we were to depart; the breakfast time was just about over. The lady who was taking care of the breakfast service offered us some croissants, telling us that they were really good. We each took one, with lots of merci. It was really delicious; soft and buttery. What French hospitality to remember! In fact it was not the first time the hotel staff offered us such favour. When we first arrived, it wasn’t yet time to check in. We went to get our lunch and came back at about noon, and it was still early to check in. The lady who was taking care of the rooms though informed the reception that there was a room ready for us. I wanted to give her a big hug. Not sure though if that was the right French thing to do. So we just say thank you very much.

Just saying so ;)

Indeed Paris welcomed us with understated charm. The tourist information personel advised us rightly to take one way ticket from Orly airport to our hotel, as it would be much more expensive to acquire  a day pass that include Orly airport, unless we wanted to travel to ther outer part of Paris as well. We took that advice and also bought a three day city pass. As Montmarte is on the opposite site of Orly Airport, I wonder if purchasing a oneway ticket from Orly to just the inside fringe of Paris city, then continue on by using the city day pass would save us some Euros. As it was, two one-way trip from Orly airport to our hotel and two 3-day city passes cost us 47 Euros. 

Nope. Not the way to carry our luggage.

Paris Metro are all over the place. I don’t remember of any color code (OK – so they were numbered and color coded, only my memory was vague on these). You have to find your destination terminal and find where your trains intersect to go where you want to. In some stations you have to walk a mini underground city to go to your next train. Up down up down thousand steps, stairs. Many times we just sat down on top of these steps or bottom most; with two luggage and two backpacks. Must record many many merci to Parisien Gentlemen who helped us to continue on with our journey. One young man practically carried our luggage from one train to the next one, up and down on stairs, making sure we got on the correct train. He was worried that we could end up on the opposite site of our destination.

Orange umbrella

Color in a sea of gray

Yes. We met many amours in Paris. We don’t have their pictures nor their names but they are the one who will colour our memory of Paris, in briliant hues, and adds to what it all means to be on the road. Au revoir mon amour, for now.

And we will come back again for another visit. InsaAllah.

(In retrospect): Tears in Paris – Day 2

Our stay in Recidence Albert did not include breakfast. It would be another eight or nine Euros to have one. After checking their breakfast menu that comprised of croissant, butter, honey, coffee or tea, we both decided to just have bread bought from the corner bakery, coffee for me, and hot Milo for Rez in our room. I had to go down to the reception though for hot water. Probably a wise thing than providing guests with hot implements in tiny rooms. It was no problem at all to wake up by early morning Paris time which just be like waking up real late in KL. Perfect for Rez.

There were two “persons” Rez wanted to “meet” while in Paris – Rodin’s The Thinker and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. I already made a check that The Lourve opens on Monday but did not do so forThe Rodin Museum.  I took my chance and went to Rodin’s first. I knew that it could be closed on a Monday, yet finding that it was really close did not lessen our disappointment. The guards allowed us to take a peek at the Thinker from the museum’s gate. Has to be enough then. Rez later enacted the Thinker on The Lourve’s lawn.

The thinker is alive

Traveling by Metro train is perhaps the fastest way to reach your destination in Paris. However it can mean missing much of above ground Paris. Trying to capture some  old memories of walking Paris streets I dragged Rez to walk Champs Elysees from its Metro (Champs Elysees – Clemenceau) to the Lourve, passing de la Concorde. We had a good view of L’Obelisque.

L'Obelisque, the one in Paris

Along the way we stopped for creepes filled with nutella chocolate hazelnuts. Just to feel a bit like home. Arriving at the Lourve is like meeting old friends. Every one was there like old time.  The lovely hemaprodite, serene Venus and of course the ever mysterious Mona Lisa.

Here they are in images:

Hemaprodite of the Lourve:

Venus de Milo with her missing arms

And Rez with his date, Mona Lisa.

Somehow though I had that feeling the Lourve was getting old. Or maybe just me. Coming back after 15 years and finding everyone still the same can be unerving. Rez was very happy to exist my time warp. Appropriately, or so I thought, I took him to La Defense. To me the New Paris. Rez did make an expected observation – that the entire Paris is a museum, except for La Defense, till maybe someday.

La defense

With La Defense, we wraped off our second day in Paris. Rezuan did not forget to have another good cray though. Still despite his tears, when we first arrived in Paris, Rez did say in wonderment, “I can’t believe we are in Paris. It is so unreal, like I just walk into a 3D movie or a simulation game. Wow.” Yup, he is my son alright.

(In retrospect):Tears in Paris – Day 1

February 20, 2011

It is not the first time my son and I travel out of Malaysia, yet the knowledge that he would have to be without his cousins, aunts, uncles and grandma for six months brought him tears days before the journey, and worst of all the few days we were in Paris. I suspected there was also that dreaded feeling of what these coming six months are going to be. Of course that one thought;  “My mom is crazy”, is always in his mind.

Boarding Air Asia at LCCT (KLIA)

Still, Rez  managed to get his emotion together while getting ready to board the plane at LCCT. He carried his heavy backpack stuffed with our notebook computer and his reading materials without much complain. I had his DVD player and our camera in mine.  We had two checked luggage, 15 Kgs each, filled with all sort of things, including his Wii players and packets of instant noodle. Our winter clothings were what we wore or carried on our body, and a couple of wool jammies, but not much else. That was how we headed to our first destination – a wintery Paris, in early morning of February 2011.

 It was a very pleasant flight actually. Much better than what I had expected of Air Asia.  Food was nothing much, but adequate and we were well prepared for it. We arrived early Sunday morning Paris time; about 3 pm same day KL time. From Orly Airport, we took multiple trains straight to our hotel, the Recidence Albert at Montmarte, which is just below the  famous Basilique du Sacre Couer. 
 
The hotel was about 80 Euros for a two nights stay. Very tiny room, clean and functional. It was on the 3rd floor, with a tiny lift – awesome. There was a small tv with French programmes. Rez was happy that all things were working. Then he had his cry.
 

“What is the matter, Rez”

“I want to go home”

Lunch in Paris

I knew he was not hungry as I just fed him a huge lunch from a Turkish Restaurant not far from the hotel, prior to checking in. So we went out again, into a Rainy Paris afternoon.  First we climbed up to Basilique du Sacre Couer and was entertained by watching other tourists watching others; and talking with a bronze statue.

As it was still early in Paris, and that we didn’t have much time anyway we went back to the city for a visit to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. Again it required us to travel by train, I think two trains. First to Eiffel Tower, and then backtracked to Arc de Triomphe.

Eiffel Tower

The temperature must have drop close to 0 degree C because we got so cold, even with thermals and more layers on top. Somehow the decison not to bring our thick winter coats was not too smart after all. Well not when we felt the cold to the bones. Brrr.

Corners at Montmarte

At about sunset we returned back to Montmarte. After checking all corners and the streets around our hotel, we decided that was it for our first day in Paris. We headed back to our room for a hot Milo (yes, I packed a Milo too) and a good cry; Rez not me. I was just glad we made it to our first pit stop.

(In progress) Around the world in six months – Almost

 

Kuala Lumpur Skyline by Taman Tasik Titiwangsa

 A good friend offered  to host us as long as we needed to see USA. It was too good to pass. In six months, we put together our resouces to purchase two cheapest return tickets available  from Kuala Lumpur to Columbus, Ohio. That was the beginning of our six months adventures of USA, coast to coast, via Paris and London. Of course we meandered to Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent as well for there were friends to see and loved ones to say hi.

The Columbus City Hall, in Spring

We are now in Columbus, eating, resting, watching birds in our own forest, as well gathering thought about all that has happened. It has been an extraodinary visit. Still it is time to go home,  guess better make a plan, gather our stuff and find our way home, then.
Who else if not the thinker!
Yes, we do have another date with the thinker on our way home. Last time we only managed to take a peek by the gate. But next time we pass his city, it will be a Thursday, and better chance to have a long chat with him.
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