July 31, 2011

Chocolaty Winter

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My father had been suffered from cancer for 6 months, yet the news about him passing away on July 21st struck me like a lightning. I could not think of anything else but wanting to get a flight and fly home, to give my mother a hug and strength, and to be with family. Instead, I am stuck here in New Zealand, cannot go home because of many reasons and conditions we are facing right now. I felt miserable, guilty, and sad. However, one thing I have to just accept that he will never feel pain anymore.

My father was so happy on my wedding day
He wasn't a sweet tooth person, but he never failed to spoil us with sweets when we were kids. I always waited for him to come back home with a pile of chocolate bars, or a box of lollies. The sweetest memory I had with him was when we were going fishing on a wooden bridge. He led my hand and put the bait for me, then let me fishing with my tiny fishing pole which he made himself from a strong tree shoot. He gave a smile and calmly cheered when I gave a yell that I caught a fish, although it was only a tiny baby fish. He made me proud of what I achieved.

Father, mother and uncles posed for family album on my wedding day
There are moments I would never forget, especially when we were both in the kitchen. He wasn't a modern cook, but he knew what he could cook and wanted to cook, although sometimes he would love me rather cooking him his favourite dinner which I did it in pleasure. I always loved cooking for him, because he always ate them all up. I can understand how suffering he was when he had to fight the cancer in his mouth. Anyway, he is no longer suffering now. A relief. 

Talking about chocolate, I almost fill in Winter season with chocolate treats every now and then.

We have had chocolate pudding. A classic one, served warm and eaten after dinner in front of the fireplace. Delicious and soulful.

Chocolate Pudding-2

And every now and then we have Homemade Hot Chocolate served with Homemade Candied Orange Peel. It taste like Jaffa Hot Chocolate!

Hot Chocolate and Homemade Candied Orange Peel

There was a Gluten-Free Two Layers Chocolate Cake. It was no celebration but I felt like making milk chocolate cake. Unusual of me as I am more a dark chocolate person, but it was quite satisfying.


My dear daughter has just turned 7 and I made her Gluten-Free Four Layers Chocolate Cake with cream cheese and mascarpone filling with milk chocolate buttercream, sprinkled with Valrhona chocolate pearls


Her older brother served us his homemade pies for lunch, that he made from scratch, including the pastry, on that day. We all made it so special for her. And she was just so happy.


And now, KBB has its own task on pastry with chocolate this month. Another treat.

Pastry Making. Helped by my little kitchen fairy. 


I adjusted the measurement for gluten-free flours. The  mixture was much wetter than I expected. Perhaps, my little kitchen fairy did not measure it right, I just did not want to disappoint her, so I tried my best to keep the pastry balanced. I ended up making a lot more pastry than it should be. So, my pastry was quite thick. I rest it in the fridge for up to an hour.


Do you know how tricky it is working on gluten-free pastry? You can't expect it pliable quite the same as gluten flours. Although I have use Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum as the thickener, the dough will still be torn here and there. I just lifted it up carefully with whatever I could lift on the base of the tin, and press the rest of them to the sides. Rest it for an hour in a tin, before it is blind baked and cool for 15 minutes.


Filling Making. My little kitchen fairy beat the eggs and sugar. We use Valrhona Manjari. I did not use much sugar as I love it bittersweet than a too sweet tart. 

And here is what we've got:


Would love to have it with berries, but they are not available locally here, so we just serve it with thick cream and Valrhona cocoa powder to dust.


Review: Kecewa dengan hasil kerjaku kali ini, ga sesuai dengan yang aku harapkan. Kulit pastry terlalu tebal dan filling yang tidak gooey. Sedih karena mengorbankan coklat Valrhona yang mahil!

July 29, 2011

iPhoneography #26: Rich Chocolate Tart

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The pastry is gluten-free. I use Valrhona Araguani for the chocolate filling. Superb eaten while still warm when the filling is still soft and intensely dark.

July 26, 2011

The Taman Mesari Villa

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It's been more than a year since we left Ubud, Bali. That was the year when we had started building our nest in the heart of Ubud. 

Ubud is the village where we always come back to stay and enjoy the lifestyle for three and a half week, as well as to be experiencing beautiful cultures, customs and arts. We hope that we would be able to enjoy Bali more than we have been able to in future years.


IMG_2899.CR2-1 back from the market

The Taman Mesari, we call it, which is literally meaning the Beautiful Garden. It is located in the centre of Ubud with easy access to cafes, restaurants, traditional market, warungs, Ubud Palace, spas and health centres, many arts centres, workshops, and shops.


Our backyard is a small jungle, with its native trees and shrubs. There is a creek down the property if you care to have a little walk.



This villa is practically newly built and fully furnished. All you need to do is just bring your bags of clothes, perhaps some swimsuits to enjoy the warm water in our private swimming pool?

The Taman Mesari Villa

We have 4 bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Three bathrooms are with cold and hot showers, one bathroom is with bathtub. Three bedrooms have the jungle and pool view, and one bedroom with bathtub has garden view.  We also have a large kitchen, dining room and a large hall upstairs, suitable for yoga practices with your friends. 


The Taman Mesari Villa03

All we need is just a good tenant who can live in our house, preferably in a long-term stay, although we are open for any other options.

We have low rates, to be compared with other commercial villas in Ubud. You can do currency converter with these rates on your computer easily and find out how cheap they are. We are offering:

IDR 900,000/night
IDR 5,500,000/week
IDR 9,500,000/month

We do not allow subletting, however, each bedroom can be fitted for two-three guests. If you are interested, please contact me for further inquiry and information at arfi.binstedATgmailDOTcom.

We do hope you will have a great time in Bali!

July 05, 2011

The Big Four and Pie Party

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I know perhaps many of you in the Western world avoid talking about age. But I don't. I am honest, I am 40 on the 4th of July. The-start-of-life-kind-of age, some say. For me 40 is 40, older than 20, but younger than 60. Fair life, isn't it.

When you are 40, what would you wish on your birthday? I have had a long wish list, some are crossed, some are clean. Some are achieved, some are dreamed. It takes time, but when the time is right, I am hoping they'll be all crossed, one by one. If some are not crossed, perhaps someone will cross them for me.

40 is 40,
it is older than 20, younger than 60...

There is no party of a kind, with champagne and a chocolate cake, or a girlish group of good friends. Only a moment of deep concern about my father's health who had to receive 4 bottles of blood transfused and is now on further cancer treatment in Jakarta, which distracts my whole conscience about what's happening in my life at the moment. I have been thinking about him the whole time and been so regretful that I cannot be with him. I am just hoping he will be well again.

A news that brightens my life at 40 is that our book Food Photography Made Easy is on the print and will be released some time on either the 6th or 13th this month. This book was written by me, Dita, Riana, and Irra as our editor. It's been at least 14 months since we started, planned, drafted, proof-reading, and printed at last.

This is, perhaps, the only food photography book in the world which is written by full-time mothers with children, who has passions in food photography as well as being food bloggers. Although I am one of those photographers working for a stock photo agency, I consider myself a professional full-time mother. At least, I don't underestimate my own role of being a stay-at-home Mum.

We are just hoping this book will inspire other full-time mothers in Indonesia (and maybe you?) to know their functions of their camera much more, either pocket camera (as we also have featured photos taken with digital point-and-shoot cameras) or digital SLR, to explore, to express, and to be creative. There is nothing can stop you, unless you are dispassionate about what you are doing. Not even a cheap camera you own. Let me tell you, I am still using my entry-level camera for the book, although I have upgraded my lenses and using more equipment than I had 5 years ago.

...this book is to mark my journey
at 40...

To me personally, the book has made a mark on my journey. It is either an achievement, or rather an exclamation of a personal work that got printed in a book. I am happy. I have crossed one of the wishlist items, on my own goodwill and timeless efforts in between house chores, homeschooling, and nursing. I am hoping that our book will be found an easy handbook to read and, later on, perhaps to inspire.

When you are 40, perhaps you won't expect a euphoria like of being a 17. We are maturing, like Cheddar cheese; hardened and umami. However, my little family had started this euphoria since the night before 4th of July. They made an excuse for me to go to bed early, so they could wrap the presents up. Cheeky babies I have. 

to give you a peek of my new kitchen, made from NZ Rimu. the big hole is for the dishwasher.

And I was surprised, indeed! Apart from the kitchen that we've been renovating for ages (which is sloooooooowly in progress), I was thrilled to find out that I am going to use my new oven (and of course, new stove top) in my new kitchen. 

IMG_9368-early birthday present IMG_9373-prince charming

I also have received a box of Schoc frog chocolates and truffles, and New Zealand made Saint Clair Cookware's 30cm carbon steel skillet pan from a gourmet shop, Sabato and a few more stuffs which I chose myself. I will treasure these quality gifts (and make use of them, for sure!). My children also chose good presents for me: new pasta machine, new pie and tart tins. Now we are expected to make fresh pasta and pies, like a daily chore perhaps. I just had a lovely, lovely morning, and a wonderful,wonderful 4th of July.

Beef and Mushroom Pies

And, now let's have a Pie Party!!

Beef and Mushroom Pies-2

Talking about pies, it is another euphoria of Pie Party talks across the internet, which is held on 5th July. Shauna's idea. There is a talk over the Facebook and Twitter about it too, and I am joining in. We've been having pie days every now and then in Winter. Although it does not feel too cold for us up here in the North Island, pastry is reasonably easy to make in wintertime. We have to work it with gluten-free flour. The use of guar gum really helps to make gluten-free flour pliable for rolling out. Just like wheat flour. 

Black Bottom Pie

Black Bottom Pie-2

We have Beef and Mushroom Pies for lunch, and then Black Bottom Pie for desserts. Both are gluten-free. I use homemade gluten-free biscuits for Black Bottom Pie crusts. I was not too happy with the cream topping. The texture is not as smooth as I would like it would be, and there are specks of gelatine in it. I confess, this is my weakness. I am not too good with gelatine.

Anyway, the taste is nice. I like the chocolate layer part, though. Next time, I'm going to make the chocolate custard thicker than the cream topping. That'll be MY PIE! We also had had slices of chocolate bites made from 72% dark chocolate and sour cream, swirled with white chocolate for an extra special celebration.

Have a wonderful Pie Party!