crème caramel

Although I don't normally obsess over TV shows, when I do it becomes a full-blown affair. I'm not even kidding when I say that I can't miss a single episode, and usually read up everything to do with the series when I get sick of waiting for the next week (or year, in Sherlock's case)... That being said, it must be a blessing in disguise that the Great Australian Bake Off isn't on everyday! See, in recent weeks I seem to have lost my baking mojo, what with a lack of time and energy to try new recipes and clean up afterwards. Nevertheless, watching the contestants make pies and cookies (or utterly fail at it) is strangely addicting, and I think it's inspired me to try more of the recipes that I've been putting off for ages. 

Anyway, I've had this classic crème caramel on my to-bake list for a long time, and until recently I never actually bothered making it! Now you could opt for those sinful refrigerated versions from the supermarket, but obviously nothing beats that feeling of gratification from knowing that you made something yourself. So read on for the recipe...

Just a little side note - don't be like me, who stupidly burnt the first batch of sugar! As it turns out it's pretty easy to get carried away, and realise that you have a saucepan of burnt toffee after it's already too late. In the end I still think the caramel hardened too quickly, so if there are any dessert aficionados out there any tips would be much appreciated...

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay Magazine:
⅔ cup (150g) caster sugar
⅓ cup (80ml) water
¾ cup (180ml) milk
¾ cup (180ml) single (pouring) cream
2 eggs
4 egg yolks, extra
⅓ cup (75g) caster sugar, extra
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes or until mixture is dark golden. Pour into 4 x ¾ cup-capacity (180ml) ovenproof dishes or ramekins. Set aside for 5 minutes or until caramel is set.
2. Place the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Remove from heat.
3. Place the eggs, extra yolks, extra sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking to combine. Strain the mixture and pour into the dishes.
4. Place dishes in a water bath lined with a folded tea towel. Bake for 35 minutes or until set. Remove the dish and refrigerate for 2 hours or until cold. Remove the creme caramels from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Turn out onto plates to serve. Serves 4.

The end result? A really nice and simple dessert that even the pickiest of eaters will probably enjoy! My only issue is that there wasn't enough to go around in my family of six, but I guess that's my own fault for not bothering to calculate the right measurements. Anyway, definitely let me know if you happen to give this a try!
Posted by : Mani

to melbourne and back

I'm not sure if it's the beginning of a midlife crisis, but suddenly my parents have become really open to the idea of camping and going on achingly long road trips. Not that I'm complaining, though! Melbourne's roughly an hour long plane ride from Sydney, but why do that when there are sights to see along the way? Surprisingly the drive only took eight hours, but I think I'll opt out when my dad wants to drive halfway across the desert (that's a whole other obsession I won't go into)...

Anyway, during my time away I was definitely able to appreciate a change of scenery for once! If you ask me, Melbourne has this cool vibe and appreciation for aesthetics that Sydney will never adopt, and I feel like everyone there is just a little more well-dressed. It's no surprise that this place is known for its shopping, especially considering I spent most of my trip doing just that... I also found that everything's organised logically unlike back home, where restaurants, shops and cafes are scattered all over the place! The grass really is greener on the other side, huh? Anyway, on to the pictures:

Just a random beach and breakfast before a day of walking... lots of it, might I add. While the food at the Coffee Club was okay, I still thought it was pretty ordinary considering the price! However I did steal a bite of my brother's pancakes and they were exceptionally good, so I guess I should've gone for those instead of the eggs Benedict...

I made a point of seeing Melbourne's street art while I was in town, but since the works are quite spread out I didn't get to see as many as I would've liked. Anyway, most of these were taken in Hosier Lane, which probably counts as a tourist destination on its own! Unfortunately I don't know anything about art, so I couldn't tell you much information beyond that...

In the Royal Arcade there were so many cute and quirky things, but my favourite was definitely this shop dedicated to puppets and babushka dolls! I've only got one set of dolls right now, but don't they look pretty when they're clustered together like that? I'm seriously considering starting up my own collection now...

Chokolait was tucked away in the side of the arcade, but I'm so glad we gave it a chance over a cafe on the main strip! While most of those shops had people spilling out the front door, we were able to get cushy seats here straight away. Anyway, the chocolate pavlova was absolute heaven, with thin layers of meringue sandwiched together with dark chocolate. I felt quite sorry for my sister though, she also ordered an iced chocolate and probably had a sugar overdose by the end of it!

See that pixelated alien on the wall? According to my sister there are many tiles like that all over the world, and when you join the coordinates on a map they form the image of a space invader. Too bad I didn't hang around for longer though, I think it'd be fun to hunt down all the little space invaders in the city!

Anyway, that was basically my outing in Melbourne. The next day was dedicated to exploring Chadstone shopping centre, so that didn't call for much picture taking. I kind of regret not seeing everything that the place has to offer, but I guess it's impossible to cover all bases in such a short period of time! Plus, I'm pretty sure it won't be long before I come back to see everything that I missed out on. Anyway, I hope you're having a great week and see you soon!
Posted by : Mani

address is approximate

Sources: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

So while perusing some old blog posts out of boredom, I was quite surprised to find a lot of drafts that I'd completely forgotten about. Most of them were inspiration-y image sets, and the only thing holding me back must've been the fear that no one else would find them inspiring, or even remotely interesting for that matter... Anyway, these are just a few interior inspirations from a while ago, and it seems my taste hasn't changed much since! If my Pinterest is anything to go by, my future house will be white, bright, and full of bookshelves... Preferably my library will also need a ladder to go with it, but let's not jump the gun because a) I can't afford a house and b) I definitely can't afford all the darn books needed to fill my collection! Wanting things can be so tough sometimes.

Also in my drafts was this cute video that I came across on Vimeo, which is really amazing for discovering creative short films! I've always wanted to try my hand at making some videos, but I've never had any good ideas and just the thought of putting time into it makes me feel lazy. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this kind of post and have a great weekend!
Posted by : Mani

winter warmers

DIY snood, thrifted jacket, Uniqlo jumper, Miss Shop skirt and boots, Lovisa bracelet

Judging from my recent posts, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I wear skirts, boots and stockings on a permanent basis. After all, that's a pretty accurate summary of what my daily uniform is like at the moment! I think it's because I hate trying on pants in stores and never end up buying them, but after a freezing night in the city I may consider getting clothes that actually keep me warm when I'm out and about. Anyway, with winter well underway in Australia I'm proud to say that I've finished a knitting project for the first time in my life! If I'm perfectly honest though, I have a love-hate relationship with this snood, and not just because I was inspired by DIY goddess Shini of Park and Cube. While the stitching is pretty good for a first timer (if I do say so myself) I find the length a bit awkward, and in hindsight I should have made the scarf thinner to compensate for that. Now the snood looks strange if it hangs around my neck, but it's also kind of uncomfortable when looped again over my head. Tell me though, which way of wearing it do you guys prefer?

Korean side dishes, japchae noodles, ox tongue and pork belly for barbequing

Vegetables and rice cakes topped with cheese, stir-fried squid with chili, frozen yoghurt

Moving on, I feel like a broken record for talking about Sydney Madang, but it was pretty much inevitable that I'd end up there again sooner or later (not that I'm complaining). On my aforementioned trip I met up with classmates for a little reunion, and the food was as great as I remembered. However, the difference was that I got to try more dishes, and also had a team of fellow diners to help me do so! The chili dishes in particular were incredibly warm and hearty, and probably tasted even better due to a combination of hunger and the nippy weather in Sydney. Even though I'm weak when it comes to spicy food and couldn't feel my tongue by the end of it, everything was just so darn satisfying. Ironically, we also went to have frozen yoghurt for dessert afterwards, but what can I say? Whether it's winter or not, you can't keep me from my frozen desserts... In fact, I happen to prefer ice-cream in the colder months, strange as it may seem! In summer it just melts instantly and gets all over your fingers, so that's a scenario I'd rather avoid.

To finish the night off my friend and I visited the ice-skating rink that's opened in World Square, of all places! They had these amusing penguins for learners to hold on to, and I seriously thought they did more harm than good for my balance. Anyway, that was my night in a nutshell. I feel like I always unintentionally talk about the weather on here, but it's one of those things that are easy to make small talk about. Besides, even though I complain about the cold a lot I secretly want to experience waking up to snow on my doorstep one day, though I probably wouldn't be able to handle it... I think for now I'll keep living in blissful ignorance of a winter where the temperature actually goes below zero. Anyway, I hope you're having a great day!
Posted by : Mani

instagram diaries

1. Doc Martens  2. My current winter essential  3. Freshly squeezed orange juice  4. Star Master  5. English breakfast tea, my favourite kind  6. Depressing weather in Sydney lately  7. Oatmeal, honey and strawberries  8. My little brother's birthday  9. Overpriced hot chocolate  10. Knitting progress  11. Handsome kitty  12. Berry pavlova

So if my activity on Instagram is anything to go by, June was a month of creature comforts, futile attempts to combat the cold, various hot beverages and food. Lots of it, might I add. Putting it that way makes my life sound really sad now, but hey! With the arrival of July the sun has decided to reappear in Sydney, so hopefully the weather stays pleasant like this for a little longer. Speaking of which, is anyone else wondering where half the year disappeared to? At this point I feel like I've wasted all the free time uni life grants me, but at least that leaves time to stress about more serious things further down the track. That's what I like saying to myself anyway, before realising that I've spent yet another day watching Youtube videos nonstop... Anyway, hope you're all having a great start to the week and I'll see you soon!
Posted by : Mani