milk&honey cafe

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

sew easy: one-of-a-kind cheater quilt



I am so excited to share a special nursery with you. It belongs to a very lucky baby girl who I know will be one of the coolest kids on the block. Her parents are an über talented pair - stunning designer mom and engineer-by-day, DJ-by-night dad. The two definitely live with style. So when I walked into her nursery, I wasn't surprised to see how beautiful it was. I wanted to live in this room! There are lots of little details that only an interior designer mom would take care of and even if it's not 100% completed yet, it looks straight out of a pinterest board named "dream nursery inspiration". I know their baby girl is going to have sweet sweet dreams in her little crib.




Her parents are special friends to us - they've shown so much love and care for my own little Heidi. I've always been so grateful for how much they've adored her, playing with her and caring for her, and even putting her to sleep a couple of times (and that is no easy feat!). I was soooo happy to hear that they were expecting – surely the two girls are going to be great friends! And so when it was time to prepare a gift for the baby girl, I knew I wanted to give her something extra special. I wanted to hand-make something to keep it personal and one-of-a-kind, but also make it practical while fitting the cool decor of the room. Then, I remembered a crib-sized quilt project I pinned a while ago – a pretty triangle quilt. It claimed that it would only take an hour - even with no experience in quilting!

How do you make a quilt in an hour? By the magic of an amazing website called Spoonflower. If you haven't heard of Spoonflower before, you are in for a treat. It's a genius idea - you can upload any design and they would print it on a variety of fabrics for you. I think that's a million-dollar idea, don't you? It's a game-changer for the sewing world, that's for sure. I think there are an endless amount of things you can do if you're able to design your own fabric!




And so with the help of this wonderful company, I was able to design my very own quilt pattern with triangles. I took mental notes on the design theme of the nursery when I came for a visit and used it to design the fabric. "B&W cool with a touch of baby girl" was what I was going for! I used Adobe Illustrator to make the full-quilt sized design and uploaded it to their website. I have to say, their prices are quite reasonable for what they're offering and the quality is really great. The customer service is awesome too - I wasn't sure which fabric to pick for quilt and they responded with great choices and inspiration to go along with it. I chose the basic combed cotton, but you can try their Organic Cotton Knit, Satin, or even their Minky fabric. The other great thing about this website is that you can also chose designs from a library of other people's designs. There a ton of beautiful fabric designs and even other "cheater quilt" patterns as well.

Once the fabric comes in the mail, you're already halfway there. All it really takes is trimming, basting and sewing in straight lines. You'll also have to add a bias tape around the quilt. What I love most about this project is that it's a unique and thoughtful gift, but easy enough for beginners like me. And I know that there's only one like this one, just like their baby girl!





INSTRUCTIONS




You'll need:
• 1.5 yards triangle-design fabric (I used basic combed cotton from spoonflower)
• 1.5 yards backing material, quilting weight
• batting (I used baby crib sized quilt cotton batting)
• 2 packages 1/2″ double fold bias tape
• thread



1. Line up batting between the two fabric and trim to the size of batting. Try to line up the triangle fabric so that the edges of the triangles sits centred.
2. Pin the three pieces so that it doesn't move. You can use safety pins or even spray baste in a cinch.



3. Sew along the lines of the triangles. Finish one direction at a time. (Like this: \ / —)
4. Sew your bias tape along the edges of your quilt.



And you're done! Add any finishing touches you'd like. I decided to embroider the baby's initials. It was actually the first time I've ever done embroidery so I followed instructions from the internet and kept it super simple. It's still cute though, right?




My friend is actually due this week, so here's a little message for you: I'm so so excited for you and cannot wait to meet your little girl! It's gonna be scary and crazy but it'll be all worth it once you hold her in your arms. I hope you make countless beautiful memories together in your beautiful nursery.




Friday, February 20, 2015

quick! easy! delicious! banana bread!



I never quite understood why all those "30 meals under 30 minutes!" or "Quick, Fast, Instant, Speedy Cooking" or "10,000 one-bowl meals!" cookbooks sold so well. I knew that time is of the essence when it came to managing the family, but I thought it was kind of overboard when I saw the plethora of these cookbooks. That is, until... I became a mom! O how I underestimated the value of a quick and easy recipe. Motherhood is a series of juggling acts and I realized I'm constantly trying to simplify things when I can. And so when I was in the midst of amusing an energetic 9 month old baby and eating a quick lunch off the counter yet still wanted to do something about those overripe bananas, I looked for the simplest one bowl banana bread recipe I could find. The name of this recipe also happened to be "The Best Ever Banana Bread", so it was an easy sell.



I liked this recipe because it asked for simple ingredients that I knew I had in my kitchen. It didn't require milk (which I rarely have in the house) or buttermilk (which I always end up throwing out) or room temperature butter and eggs (which I always forget to take out ahead of time). I'm pretty sure you would have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now too. I know banana breads or any quick bread is usually very easy to make, but this one couldn't be any simpler. And it took me just 10 minutes to whip it up. To be honest, if it wasn't for me having to entertain Heidi as she sat in the highchair beside me, I probably could have made it in about 5.



It turned out just like how good ol' banana bread should. Super moist, very banana-y, and a perfect amount of density. I know it's gonna be even better when I let it sit overnight. It's definitely my favourite banana bread recipe now! So here it is – a super simple and scrumptious banana bread that you can make if you can spare 5 minutes of your time. I know I'm going to be making it again.



Mom's speedy banana bread

recipe from Domestic Superhero

makes one 4x8 inch loaf pan or two small loaf pans or 12 muffins

ingredients

3 or 4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add the melted butter and mix until combined. Mix the sugar, egg and vanilla extract until combined well. Add baking soda and salt to batter. Finally, slowly add the flour until just combined - don't overmix. You can add the nuts or chocolate chips here.
2. Grease your loaf pans or muffin tins and pour in the batter. Bake for 1 hour for a large loaf (4x8 pan), 45 minutes for smaller loaves, or 22-25 minutes for the muffins. Check if it's done with a toothpick (no crumbs!)
3. Let it cool on a rack and enjoy!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

donut fail like me


Hi guys. I failed. I failed as epically as I wanted to succeed. It was supposed to be my big baking comeback: Sarah the Baker Yoon comes raging back, with an unbelievably delicious post that will make everyone remember how amazing she is! YA RIGHT! The best thing that turned out of this whole baking debacle is probably the title of this post. (Haha - get it? Get it? Donut/Do not? Ok...)

I knew I wanted to bake something that was super decadent and a bit out of the ordinary — a real treat. So I researched and poured myself over recipe ideas and finally came to the decision to make Lemon Meringue Doughnuts. I've had these doughnuts from a bakery in Toronto called Glory Hole Doughnuts, and almost died and went to heaven when I took a bite of it. It was everything I loved: chewy warm donuts with tangy sweet lemon curd topped with toasty meringue. It was huuuge too, which made it all the more indulgent. It costs a pretty penny, but for good reason. There's a lot going on there and required a lot of work and love. So I thought it was perfect for this occasion. I've never made doughnuts before, let alone fancy ones like this, so it was gonna be a challenge!




And a challenge it was. I wouldn't say that it was necessarily because the doughnuts were hard to make - but it just showed how rusty I am with this whole baking and blogging thing. I timed everything wrong and I couldn't keep track of whether I was documenting things properly. I was supposed to make them fresh to bring to a friends get-together, but I misread the recipe and didn't give enough time to rest these yeast treats. So I had to pack up the dough midway and after waiting too long, I made them at my friend's house. I also got lazy once we finished dinner there so I copped out and decided to make "donut bites" instead of my original plan. So as you can see, it was just not gonna work out.

One success, though, was this delicious lemon curd. It was perfectly lemony and sweet, and I can imagine it would be delicious on about anything. It's easy to make but does require you to stand over the bowl on a double-boiler and whisk the whole time so that the egg doesn't curdle. They were definitely the saving grace to my donut bites. We ended up dunking the fresh donut bites in the curd and we scraped the whole bowl clean.



I found a basic but highly-rated raised doughnut recipe, but my doughnuts had nothing to do with it. Haha! I totally screwed it all up. It became doughy and tough since I left it in the fridge for too long. And then I ended up undercooking the inside and overcooking the outside since I didn't have a thermometer for proper oil temperature. It was nothing like I wanted these bite-sized morsels of deep-fried dough to be. But... you know what? It was still pretty good. We still devoured these treats and my friends really enjoyed it, despite it being "all wrong".

And then I realized I was being extra hard on myself and disappointed in myself since I felt like I ruined my big baking re-emergence. I wanted to prove myself and I guess that's exactly what was "all wrong". Isn't that a bit like life? When we feel like life isn't a certain way we want it to be, or when we're so caught up on what it "looks" like, we often miss the treasure right in front of us. Sometimes what we have right now, even with its messy mistakes and shortcomings, is most valuable. Sometimes a small piece of fried dough and lemon curd is all you need to make friends happy.



And so with that, I give you my failed donuts, proudly and happily. I hope you give it a try and make it better than I have! Also, if you want, you can go to this beautiful blog that tells you step-by-step how to make these! I didn't use the same recipe, but it helped me figure out how to make them. Check it out at Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook.

See you again soon!!


Lemon Meringue Doughnuts

raised doughnut recipe from Peggi Anne Tebben and lemon curd + meringue from Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook

makes about 12 filled doughnuts

ingredients

for doughnuts
1/4 cup water, warm (not hot)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/3 cup milk, lukewarm
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/6 cup shortening
1 egg

for lemon curd
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

for meringue
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1/8 cup of water

directions

make raised doughnuts
1. Soak yeast in 1/2 cup warm (not hot) water - 5 minutes. TIP: I throw about 1 tsp. sugar in with this to kick it in the butt to get it going.
2. Scald the milk and melt shortening.
3. Pour milk over sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir until dissolved. Make sure this mixture is warm, not hot.
4. Add 1/2 cup of flour, eggs and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. When dough leaves sides of bowl, turn out onto lightly floured board.
5. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place in lightly greased bowl. Grease top of dough and cover with waxed paper. Allow to rise in warm place (80-85°F) until doubled (1-1/2 hours). You can make the lemon curd while you wait.
6. Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut-with a #2 can that has been opened with a tadpole can opener to leave a sharp cutting edge. Use a pill bottle or the center of doughnut cutter to make the center hole. Remove centers.
7. Let rise on the board until very light (40-60 minutes).
8. Drop into deep hot fat (325° - 350°) and turn when doughnuts are just barely brown. Turn once again when browned sufficiently. Make sure the doughnuts are completely cooled before filling.

make lemon curd
1. Place the zest, juice, sugar, salt, and eggs in a metal bowl. Whisk away. Add in the butter, clamp on an instant-read thermometer, and set the bowl over a tiny pot of simmering water.
2. Don’t ever stop whisking gently or you’ll end up with a layer of scrambled eggs on the edge of your bowl.
3. Keep cooking and stirring until it’s thick, and the thermometer reads 160°F, 5-10 minutes.
4. Place a fine-mesh sieve over another metal bowl and press the curd through it with a rubber spatula.
5. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap, cool completely, and refrigerate until ready to use.

fill the doughnuts
1. Use a long tip so that you can reach the centre of the doughnuts.
2. Lightly hold the doughnut from the bottom, cradling the sides with your fingers, and gently insert the piping bag tip. If the doughnut isn’t hollow for some reason, you can clear a space with a chopstick, and then simply squeeze your piping bag, slowly withdrawing it as you fill.

make italian meringue and top the doughnuts
1. Get the egg whites ready to go, but don’t start beating just yet.
2. In a heavy sauce pan, dissolve 1/2 cup of sugar completely in 1/8 cup of water. When the sugar is completely dissolved, crank up the heat and wait for it to boil.
3. Start up your stand mixer and beat the egg whites. While the sugar syrup is climbing in temperature, add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
4. Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites while it is rapidly beating. Mix on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes, or until the bowl has come to room temperature.
5. Spread the meringue on top of the doughnuts (forming any and all peaks, as you wish).
6. Stick it under the broiler until the meringue just browns. Or, alternatively, be really cool and use a blowtorch.





Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sew Easy: Pretty Bow HeadBand



I've done it. I've jumped on the mom-bandwagon and started to sew. I dusted off my old sewing machine and started to make things for the baby. Yes, Pinterest and this whole DIY-movement has launched me into this "mom-on-mat-leave" stereotype, but it just made practical sense! I could make things just the way I wanted it, at a fraction of the price. It started when I couldn't find a nursing cover I liked because of the unappealing fabric choices and the ridiculous price it asked for. And then I wanted to make the same headbands I bought for Heidi at the Gap for $10 a piece. From then on it was just a whirlwind of little projects I could think of, late at night while Heidi was asleep. I am no where near an expert sewer but I've been sewing here and there since Jr. High (I promised my mom I'd put good use to a sewing machine if she bought me one – I kept the promise!). And so, I want to share these little sewing discoveries with you. I am still learning myself and you could probably find a ton of blogs that teach you better than I could, but I thought it'd be fun to share my projects with you and maybe show you a few things I've learned along the way. (I'm new at this tutorial thing, so please bear with me!)

Here is my first tutorial: an easy bow headband. This bow is a cute accent to any outfit for your baby girl. I love putting it on Heidi. And I've made a bunch in different fabrics because it's super easy.



Materials:
- 2 pieces of fabric for the bow (sizes are below)
- Elastic (the length of your baby's head circumference)
- Thread


You'll need two pieces of fabric: one for the main bow and the second for the middle piece. The size of the final bow would basically be a quarter of the piece of fabric you cut. So here, I cut a 6"x 6" piece that would ultimately make a 3"-wide bow.


1. Fold the piece of fabric in half, with the right sides facing each other (so that you see the wrong side). Then sew along the edge. Flip it inside out.
2. Fold that piece in half again, so that the seam is outside (the clean side is in). Sew along the edge. Flip it inside out.




1. Take your small piece and fold it in half length-wise. You're gonna sew it in an L-shape so that you get a closed pipe.
2. Flip it inside out. Then sew it shut. This part is kind of tricky since it's a small piece of fabric but with patience, you'll get it through!


Take your bow piece with the non-seam side facing up and hold it so that the closed sides are on the left and right, open sides on the top and bottom. Do an accordian fold. It's basically like when you fold a paper fan. I like having the edges on the top and bottom folded so that you don't see the edges. Now take some string and tie it tightly around the middle. I loop around it quite a bit so that it stays nice and tight.


Knot it a few times so that it doesn't unravel.


Now sew the elastic piece into a loop. Make sure you use the zig-zag option so that the elastic doesn't come apart.


Place all three pieces together so that the small piece wraps around the bow and elastic. Make sure the neat end of the small piece stays on top.


Get a needle and thread and sew it all together. This is probably the hardest part since you have to hold the pieces tightly together and you have to make sure the thread goes in all the layers. I find it much easier when you take it slow and sew one direction at a time. For instance, I would take the needle from the inside, poke through all three pieces and come up. Then I'll take the needle back inside, again going through all three pieces. I repeat this until I feel like it's on securely.


Voila - it's all done!


Once you start making these, you're not gonna stop! You can make a bow for every outfit.








Friday, January 23, 2015

introducing heidi


I think it's only appropriate to start off my return with the biggest change since my last post, which also happens to be the biggest event of my life – the birth of my daughter Heidi. Becoming a mother has been nothing that I could have imagined in so many ways: like how strong a mother and child's bond can be, or how absolutely horrible sleep deprivation feels, and how wrong I have been about maternity leave (which for some misguided reason seemed "glamorous" to me). Motherhood is exhilarating and exhausting, rewarding and routine. But as any mother would tell you, it is an absolute blessing – the good and the hard – to be a mother.

I want to share my birth story because it's kind of nice to share these kinds of stories, but mainly (and selfishly) because I haven't journaled it and I figured I should leave a record of it somewhere, haha. I will be careful not to over dramatize what happened though. I realized that people love to tell birth "horror stories" because sometimes it truly is crazy what they go through, but I find that it often paints an ostentatious picture of the birthing experience. Yes, it's really intense and there was definitely lots of screaming, but I am humbled by the thought that every single person in history was birthed by someone. So without further ado, here is how little Heidi was born!



The lovely baby shower hosted by my friends Alicia and Mina.

Heidi Ella Chung was born on May 5th 2014, exactly one week after her estimated due date. That extra week was pretty hard, partly because people kept asking and it got pretty repetitive telling them "No, she's not born yet" and partly because I just wanted to stop being pregnant! Pregnancy was not fun at all. I concluded that women who say they love being pregnant are either elves or liars. Being pregnant felt heavy, acidic, awkward and nauseating. Morning sickness is horrible and I hated peeing every 12 minutes. But I did love not having to suck in my belly to fit into tight pants, and also got to go on a baby-moon! I have to admit I'm not looking forward to being pregnant again, but alas, you can't get a bun without baking it first.


One of our last evenings together before Heidi's arrival.

After waiting and waiting, May 4th finally came around. I have been feeling Braxton Hicks contractions (false contractions) for a couple of weeks so when I first felt contractions at 1 am, I brushed it off. But then – it became different. The pain became much deeper and heavier, so I knew it was it! I didn't bother to tell Andrew though, who was sleeping beside me, since they tell you to wait around until 4-1-1 (which is contractions every 4 minutes lasting 1 minute long and sustained for an hour). I tried to sleep without much luck and by 4 am, I knew it was time to go. I nudged Andrew and told him "Honey, this is it. We're meeting Heidi today."


My baby bumps.

We excitedly and nervously got ready and hugged our parents and headed off to St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto. I called my midwife on the way there, feeling contractions closer to every 2 minutes. We totally assumed that I probably had a long way to go since I wasn't feeling that uncomfortable. The pain was bearable and I didn't look anything like the pictures they show you of the face that you're supposed to make when you're going into labour. But once we got in and the midwife checked me, I was already 5cm dilated and pretty close to go into active labour. I knew I didn't want to get any drugs going into it, not because I felt like I was super strong, but because it can often make labour longer and sometimes lead to complications. Plus, my sister did it twice without an epidural so I figured we may have similar pain tolerance.


Look how happy and okay I looked at the beginning!

So then I felt everything. And that pain was nothing like I could have imagined. While I felt that the contractions were quite endurable (I even joked to Andrew that I didn't understand why people would ask for an epidural at all), when it was time for pushing, I completely broke down. My midwife told me that every single woman comes to a point where they hit a wall and feel like they possibly can't do it anymore. I hit that wall pretty hard and soon enough I was screaming "I CAN'T DO IT. I JUST CAN'T DO IT. MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP!!" It was especially hard for me since Heidi, while not being breeched, was "sunny side up" which means she was facing up and out to my stomach. Her head was down but she kept turning forward instead of facing my back. My midwife would then have to reach inside and turn her head while I pushed (and screamed and screamed). OH my Lord, every time she put her hand in there I could feel it and I felt like everything was burning and ripping. SO MUCH FRKIN PAIN.

But nothing lasts forever, thank the Lord. When I started to feel hopeless and delirious with pain, my midwife told me to try and feel her head that was just crowning. At first I refused because I didn't want to know what was going on down there. But she insisted and it was the best advice she could give me at that point. As soon as I felt her warm head I felt a rush of urgency – that I needed to get her out!! I refocused and gritted my teeth and pushed and pushed. And then! After 8 hours of labour and 45 minutes of pushing – there she was!! My baby! So alive and so real. I will never forget that moment: Andrew's elated face that searched my eyes to thank me, my body's huge sigh of relief, and Heidi's tiny body pressed against mine. I instinctively started to sing to her when she couldn't settle down and for the first time I felt like her mother as she calmed down and snuggled peacefully in my arms. This was my child and I was gonna love her with my whole being.



Someone's falling in love real hard, real fast.

That's how Heidi came into the world. Only now have I realized that the birthing was actually the easy part of motherhood, the hard part was just beginning! But I discovered the real beauty is that day by day I fall in love with her more and the day before that will always be a precious memory. I'm so thankful to have experienced giving birth and I'm so grateful that I gave birth to a healthy little girl. I know it's truly a miracle and I promise to never take it for granted.


My happy girl Heidi is now almost 9 months!