Boy I finally got a breather after a few weeks of intense reports, assignments, presentations and what-nots. Finally managed to indulge in some baking after having churned out more than 10,000 worth of words, and I only have one last report left to do before it’s time for the long-awaited exams! It’s long awaited because I’ve 2 full months of holidaying waiting for me after that =D I just took 3 jabs today, 2 on my arms and another on my butt, in preparation for Cambodia, where I’ll spend 3 weeks doing some volunteer work. Though my arms are all achy now, it makes me happy to know that I’m this much closer to getting there!

Anyway, I know that people usually only do posts like this after reaching milestones like the 100th post or the first year anniversary, but I wanted to write a little something after having a food-related blog for 3 months, since it’s my blog anyway. I’ve always wanted to have a food-related blog, but I never was able to find the time or patience to blog consistently. However, after living aboard and being exposed to different food cultures and coming back with the ability to cook and bake, I found the need to keep a recipe book (which I do keep – a spiralbound notebook where I jot down my ideas and recipes) and because I wanted to improve my photography skills, a blog seemed like an apt solution. Besides, I used to spend a copious amount of time online previously, tending to customers for my now-defunct online business, and when I came back, I didn’t want to continue, because I knew that I’d be busy with school – I’m in my final year after all, and I wanted to pursue my new dream – that of a baker. So I pushed the dream of being a businesswoman back, and brought the baker dream to the fore. [Perhaps one day, I can kill two birds with one stone and be a baker-businesswoman] So anyway, I had too much time on my hands – I would spend time surfing the net aimlessly, and admiring other peoples’ photography and writing, whilst thinking, if only I could photograph/write like that. And why not? So this blog was born on Christmas Day, after a week of waffling about and thinking whether I should or should not start a blog. I almost didn’t start, because the first words were just so very hard to write. I had to write and edit and delete countless of times before I thought the post was ready to see the world. The pictures were of course, another pain in the ass.

But I’m glad that I’ve been blogging consistently for 3 months, proving that I’m not what my parents call hangat hangat tahi ayam. Malaysians will probably know what it means - literally meaning for as long as the chicken shit is hot (which is not very long) or in proper English, a short-lived pursuit. Not only have I made new virtual friends, having a blog makes me want to challenge myself continually, to not stick to the recipes I’m used to, but to venture out and try new recipes. The fact that I visit other blogs rather frequently (on a daily basis actually) helps too! And most importantly, I’m fulfilling my three main aims for the blog – to hone my baking/cooking skills, to improve on my photography skills, and to keep a digital record of recipes I’ve attempted (especially my mom’s passed-down ones).

I’m giving away these Madagascar Vanilla Beans :)
To congratulate myself on passing the 3-month mark, and to thank you for supporting me on this journey, my dear blogger friends and readers, I figured a vanilla bean giveaway would be apt. If you recall, I bought a number of Madagascar vanilla beans last year, to make some homemade vanilla extract and for use in my recipes. Well, thing is, I bought close to a hundred beans, because they were cheaper in bulk. I was just using my vanilla bean the other day and when I saw how many I had left, I thought, I’d better give some away in case they deteriorate in quality =X (I assure you that they still smell as fragrant as before!) I’ve to admit that I’m not too sure if these are the top grade vanilla beans, because I know that there’s grade A and it wasn’t stated if these were or not. However, grade A or not, these are pretty decent beans! Just leave one bean out in the open and the vanilla fragrance will permeate the room in a few minutes! You don’t even have to slice it open! An inch of vanilla bean is equivalent to one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and trust me, this will be the best substitute you’ll ever use in your baking because the difference in depth of fragrance and taste you get is phenomenal! 
So to start one of you off on your vanilla bean journey, I’ve decided to give 5 vanilla beans away to one lucky winner. Hopefully, these five vanilla beans will provide you with a springboard into using vanilla beans in your recipes. You’ll be able to attempt at least 5 recipes requiring vanilla beans – think of crème patisserie or vanilla bean cookies or vanilla bean pound cake or even vanilla ice cream – the possibilities are endless really! If you’re particularly courageous, you can try Adriano Zumbo’s V8 cake here - it’s vanilla paradise for any vanilla lovers :] If you don’t win this giveaway, don’t worry because I have a few ideas up my sleeve and I just might have another giveaway sooner than you think :] Also, you can get the vanilla pods from local baking supply stores at about S$6 for 2 thereabouts. Or psssst if you’d like to help me cut down on my supply of vanilla beans, I’d be more than happy to sell some to you at the price I got them for. Just drop me an email here!
All you have to do to enter the giveaway is drop me a comment with your email address and name, and tell me what item you will make with the vanilla bean if you win it and you’ll stand a chance of winning :] I would love it if you actually did bake that particular something after winning the beans and shared it with me. Or it could be anything else you baked with the vanilla bean. I’d love to include you (and your recipe) in my series on vanilla-related posts (coming soon!) on the blog! This giveaway to both Singapore and Malaysia residents, and will close on 3 April at 3pm, and I’ll choose a winner using a random number generator after that :]

In the meantime, happy baking everyone!

14 comments

  1. CaThY says:

    I had never tried vanilla beans in my bakes before. I wanna try pound cake & macarons using vanilla beans~ ;)

    Cathy @ cathyng_24@hotmail.com

  2. shaz says:

    Good on you for blogging on :) I started my blog during the Christmas holidays too (about 2 years ago), all that spare time to think spurred me on to action. Although for the first six months I didn’t really post much. You’ve done 28 posts in 3 months already, so way to go! And if I win, I will attempt the V8 cakes (attempt being the operative word here).

  3. it takes quite a bit to get the baking and blogging on going for sure. But loads of fulfilment when you see your fruits of labour gettying “published” yeah? :)

    If I win, i’ll try Pierre Herme’s Tart Infinitement Vanille or macaron inifinitement!

  4. Janice says:

    i would make vanilla bean cream brulee!!

    homecookbaker@hotmail.com

  5. sotong says:

    Hi Janine, like u, the reason for starting my own blog is to keep a record of food and bakes I’ve made. I’m quite a forgetful person, so I may not remember the source of certain recipes when I desire to cook/bake the same thing again. My blog is my little online recipe box and it’s really nice to look back on the pictures of previous cooking/bakes.

    Vanilla beans eh? I’d make vanilla ice cream of course! :)

  6. i second sotong’s comment, vanilla ice-cream is a simple and clear way to appreciate the beans.

    I always insist on using vanilla beans if vanilla flavor is needed. Maybe I will get some from you when I decide to make something with vanilla in mind.

    A shoutout to the winner: I look forward to see what you did with your prize!

  7. Michelle says:

    Hi,i would like to make french vanilla mille crepe !! yummy !!

    micpat30@gmail.com

  8. Jean says:

    hey babe, i’ll pass on this wonderful giveaway because I’ve a bag of vanilla pods sitting around at home as well, waiting to be made useful haha

    but want to say that i’m in the same shoes as you are. parents think i’m “hangat hangat tahi ayam” as well. started baking last year, hopefully i’ll prove them wrong

  9. i’ve never tried using vanilla beans in my bakes before. i hope to use it to bake macarons! (: thank you for your kind giveaway (:

  10. hanushi says:

    I have never tried vanilla beans cos they are really not cheap. If I were to win it, maybe I will use them to bake cookies and muffins. :)

  11. I would like to use it to make some vanilla sago pudding :)

    But despite who’s the lucky one I am also eager to see all your upcoming recipes on using these lovely beans. Thanks for the giveaway.

  12. edith says:

    Nothing complicated, a vanilla pudding will definitely bring out the wonderful aroma. Nice blog.

  13. Jeannie says:

    I would love to try baking vanilla flavoured cupcakes with the vanilla beans…should smell awesome!

  14. gosh… how could I have missed out this post! now…. my vanilla beans ….

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