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Lazy Brunei Bread

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I know, its been aaaages since I last post on here.  I must get back here and use this blog more.  Today’s post is a little different, as I have decided to try my hand at putting a recipe on here. Many of us try baking our own bread here in Brunei because the supermarket stuff is pathetic, it’s too light, has no flavour, doesn’t fill you up and there is no variety (just wholemeal or white).  I get lots of requests for my bread recipe, and I’m tired of scrawling instructions onto bits of paper, now you will just get a link to this blog and it should be all here including some handy pics.  I’ve been perfecting this recipe over the last year and it is a regular in our household now.

I think I originally started with this Overnight Bread recipe: http://www.the-baker-chick.com/2013/02/no-knead-crusty-artisan-bread/ , and have further simplified it using ingredients I can find here in Brunei.  It really is super easy to make as well, no kneading or proving, just mix, wait then bake.

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I tend to use this brand of bread mix that I can buy locally in our German Shop for about $1.50 a bag.  Of course all of the instructions are in German, so I usually ignore them and make the bread my own way.  Google translate tells me that Mit Hefe means “with yeast”, so these mixes handily have the yeast already in them.  There are four or five different flavours of this brand of bread mix, ranging from light rye, to dark rye and wholemeal with various seeds/grains, they are all nice and I usually buy a selection of whatever is on the shelves at the time.

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If the German shop is out of that brand of mix (this is a common occurence in Brunei resulting in massive bulk buying whenever the shop has what you want) I use either of these two, again depending on what is in store at Supasave.  When I use these bread mix’s I use the original recipe quantities which is : 3 cups of bread mix/flour, 1 1/2 c water, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp yeast.

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You need to start your bread right before you go to bed at night so it can do all of its magic overnight while you sleep.  I mixed up these two batches in about 2 mins last night at 10pm.  I used the German Kuchenmeister brand, one bag in each bowl, then water straight from the filter.  I didn’t measure the water, but just added as I stirred with a wooden spoon until all the dry ingredients had incorporated with the water and I was left with a very wet looking mixture.  Remember that because you don’t have to knead this bread it can be a bit softer than normal bread mixes.  Just do the minimum amount of stirring required to mix it all, then cover the bowl with cling film, leave on the bench overnight and you can go to bed.IMG_0557[1]

The next morning, when you have time to bake (for me it was at 10am after yoga), pop a lidded casserole dish in the oven and heat the oven to as hot as it will go, about 220c in my oven.  When the oven is at temperature take out the dish and sprinkle the base lightly with flour.

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Using floured fingertips gently scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl while tipping the bowl.  Use plenty of flour to do this and try not to squash all of the air bubbles out of the dough. Tip the dough into your floured, heated dish, pop the lid on then put it in the oven for about half an hour. It is important that you have a lid on your casserole dish to let the steam build up inside, this helps the bread to rise properly.

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After half an hour the dough will have done all its rising, so you can remove the lid from your casserole dish and leave the bread in the oven for another half hour to finish cooking and browning.  Use your judgement here and give it longer or shorter cooking time if it needs it.

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Lots of mucking around with our new toys!

 

Sometimes we actually do stuff around Brunei too…….although it looks like we just travel all the time, it’s not so.  Craig recently decided it was time to renew his love of boating, so went to the local boat club and did his ‘licence’ on a half day course.  This means that we can hire one of the club’s boats by the hour and take them either up the Kuala Belait river or out into the sea.  So we teamed up with our friends Tania and Nathan and their kids Chloe and Sam, for a morning’s trip up the river on two boats.   Not much to see to be honest, just lots of jungle on either side.  Angus tried his hand at fishing with no luck, but there were lots of other fisherman about so perhaps if we’d persevered we might have had some luck.  The kids all had turns driving the boats and we managed a quick trip past a water village just out of KB.

 

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I guess going out on the water got Craig itching for his own boat, which would be completely impractical given the size of our property and lack of boat launching ramps in the area.  So instead he came home with this jet ski…………..

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That’s our friend and neighbour, Mike (ex HNZ), on board with Craig who went halves in the ownership of the jetski with us, making it more affordable and twice as usable.  The jet ski came complete with a biscuit which we can tow behind and terrify the poor riders.  The next plan is to purchase a wakeboard, after we borrowed one for the day and found it was loads of fun towed along behind the jet ski.

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Of course we needed to get ourselves a suitable vehicle to tow the jetski trailer, so Craig managed to find this wee beauty which was being sold by the previous owner of the jet ski.  Apparently he’s always wanted a Hilux.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Seeing as we now have a vehicle capable of taking big loads we decided to get yet another toy to lug around, this time a go-cart for Angus.  This is something that has been a while in the planning as Craig had a go-cart as a kid too and has been dying to get Angus into one since birth.  It arrived at the port this week and yesterday had its maiden voyage in the field opposite our house (good for model aircraft flying and go-carting) and then on to the Panaga beach.  Angus’s wee girlfriend, Molly, came along too – she’s got a wild streak that one!

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Renee has not been too left out either as we had a new swing installed last month for her.  Designed by Craig, he made it strong enough to take and adult and big enough to completely swamp our house (it’s just about bigger than our living room – no exaggeration!).

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Phuket

 

 

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Better late than never……I thought it was about time I logged in our latest trip away to Phuket.  We’ve been back for about 3 weeks now and the kids at school for two.  We had a two-week end of term school holiday in mid March, so we headed off to Phuket on the 16th for seven nights at Dewa Nai Yang Resort.  We were recommended this resort by Craig’s sister Sarah, and she was right on the money (thanks for the tip Sarah).  We hired a car for a few days and drove around the Island to see the busier resort areas like Patong Beach, we left feeling very grateful we didn’t have to brave those crowds each day.  We couldn’t even find anywhere to park the car let alone find a patch of sand in the over-crowded beach.  Nai Yang beach, where we stayed, was only five minutes drive from the Airport, we were just across the road from the beach and were able ride bicycles into the ‘town’ each evening to eat at one of the beachside restaurants.  The kids were delighted that the resort had two pools to choose from and spent most of their time trying to decide which one to swim in next.

We managed two-day trips out to visit outlying Islands, and filled our non swimming time with an elephant safari, go-cart driving, Gibbon sanctuary and of course a spot of outlet mall shopping (have to do it when we can because the shops are pretty limited in Brunei).

Our first day trip was to the Phi Phi Islands, we went on a big boat with about 20 other people (ours were the only kids) and spent the day beach hopping and snorkeling.  Angus had his first experience snorkeling, of course he loved it, but struggled a bit with the snorkel part so ditched that and just used the goggles.  He could not believe all the fish down there!  Renee got quite brave and decided she was not going to miss out on all the fun too, so jumped into the water from the boat as well (sensibly wearing a life jacket).  The beaches were absolutely divine, but a bit overcrowded for our tastes.  There were several boat tours all visiting the same places, and often hundreds of people were crammed into small swimming spots.

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A friend recommended we visit the Tigers while in Phuket but we left feeling a bit sour about the experience to be honest.  The brochure claimed that the tigers were not drugged, but after seeing them just lying around, barely moving, we were left questioning how honest they were being.  We were also a bit disappointed that it wasn’t about the tigers at all, we didn’t learn anything about them, what they like to eat, how they behave, how they are looked after – nothing.  The whole ticket price was simply about getting your photo taken with the tiger.  As soon as we put down our camera the keepers tried to move us along, when we really wanted to stay for a few moments longer playing with them.  I would not recommend this to anyone visiting Phuket!

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Our mode of transport to dinner each evening was on borrowed bicycles from the resort.  No helmets, which gave me the worries, but there was very little traffic to contend with thankfully.  Renee was too small for any of the bikes so she got to hang onto Daddy, great fun!

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On our way to visit the Gibbon Sanctuary we found an elephant safari, and the kids were keen as.  Angus nearly had to be removed going downhill into the stream and screamed his head off in terror, but he survived and quickly forgot to be scared after realising it was quite fun.  You can’t tell from the photo’s but my knuckles were white by the end of the trip, I was hanging on so tightly.  I don’t think I’ll be doing that again in a hurry.  No photo’s of the Gibbons unfortunately, as they are in a proper rehabilitation facility where they are reintroducing them back into the rain forest, so no photo’s allowed as this further humanised the poor creatures.  We loved the sanctuary and left after ‘adopting’ two wee Gibbons that we will continue to financially support in the coming years.  All of the Gibbons have been rescued from being pets or being used in the tourist trade (in bars where you can have your photo taken with one), and many of them are mentally or physically damaged.  It takes several years to rehabilitate them to the point that they can be released back into the wild (if at all) and they receive no government funding to do this.  So sad but such a wonderful thing to see happening.

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Angus and Craig tried their hand at paddle boarding and of course we had to hire another kayak, hours of fun while Renee and I had massages on the beach.

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Go cart driving.

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Our last day trip was another boat ride out to see more fantastic Islands, and we had lunch on a floating water village.  There was a short sea canoe ride out through some caves (thankfully paddled by a keen local) where we yet again had to fight our way through masses of tourists.  The scenery was spectacular though which made up for all the crowds.

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So that was our holiday away.  We had another week at home before school started back, but it was nice just to take it easy and not have much going on for that week.

There’s a Five Year Old in the House

Yesturday the youngest person in our house turned five.  Renee was so super excited about this and has greeted everyone she’s seen since with ” I’m five, how old are you”?  We started the morning in usual birthday fashion, pancakes and presents, followed by a big crowd of friends for her party.  One of her classmates also had a birthday party in the afternoon, but thankfully we were able to time it perfectly so that both could be done.  This mummy was well and truly partied out by 5pm though!  And I think Renee ate at least three pieces of cake and no food with any actual nutritional value for the entire day.  It was back to reality with a jolt this morning, back to the school grind as usual.  

Thanks for all the well wishers hoping Renee enjoys her first day at school.  She actually started school in June last year though…….which is admittedly a little different from the New Zealand way.  She’s already quite adept and reading and writing, which is a fantastic start considering she couldn’t even write her own name in June. Thankyou also to all the family who sent gifts to us all the way out here in Brunei, the effort was very much appreciated.

So here’s some pic’s of the big day, and the cake of course, which was yet again strawberry flavoured, as requested by Miss 5.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Our gift to Renee was this fab little artist’s easel, we are hoping that it’ll mean less paper lying around the house covered with Renee’s wonderful drawing and writing practice.  The back side is a blackboard with chalk, and there is also a roll of paper in the centre that she can use instead of swiping the paper out of our printer.

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Of course no weekend would be complete without a little time spent in the garden.  We had this patch of lawn that refused to grow grass and was full of gravel, so we spent a morning digging out the stones (which turned out to be bits of concrete, roofing/flooring tiles and bricks), filling back up with topsoil, and then replanting with something we hope will survivie.  I rained heavily last night and washed away some of the topsoil, but so far nothing has shrivelled up and turned brown.Image

Abu Dhabi

After our lovely Christmas in Dubai we decided to take a mini break and hired a car which we drove to Abu Dhabi for a couple of nights. We had a lovely time there staying in a nice hotel on Yas Island, catching up with a friend from HNZ and Shane McLean who dates back to Craig’s Air Nelson and Aberdeen days.

The roads in the Middle East are a nightmare so poor Craig was left driving the whole time, but he was very adept at the high speeds, unfamiliar roads and driving on the other side. Our first tourist stop in Abu Dhabi was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which was completely spectacular, although the kids were rather unimpressed. I had to dress up in the full black tent dress with hood, which assaulted my feminist side but was necessary to enter the mosque. While in Rome………and all that!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Later that afternoon we caught up with our old friend Shane and his wife Julia and their two boys.  Shane took Craig and Angus out on his jet ski, while I happily sat on beach and sipped wine (shhh don’t tell the locals) and watched the kids play.  Afterwards we had an excellent Kiwi style BBQ back at Shane’s house.

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The next day we were up bright and early and headed out to Ferrari World which was located right next to our hotel.  We all had an absolute blast there and I’d actually go as far as saying it was even better than Universal Studios, thanks to fewer ques and more age appropriate activities and rides for the kids.  Ferrari world is famous for having the worlds fastest roller coaster, but one look at it and kids were begging to leave!  I think after their last roller coaster experience in Singapore they’ve both decided that they are not keen on them.  Craig and I were more than happy to have an excuse to avoid the roller coaster too, and there were plenty of other things to do anyway.  We were very reluctant to leave and had to drag the kids out at about 3pm so that we had time to get back to Dubai for New Year celebrations with the Costello’s.

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So back in Dubai, after the New Year’s eve hangovers had passed we made it out to the Aquarium with the kids, followed by a fantastic Thai meal while watching the fountains.

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On our way home we came across a display of the new Dubai police cars, yes it is a Ferrari and totally ridiculous, but that’s what you do when you have too much money I suppose.  And of course there is always time ice cream before bed.

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Big thank you to the Costello’s for looking after us and putting up with us for nearly two weeks.  We had the best holiday ever and can’t wait to come back and it all again.

An exceptional Dubai Christmas

We are back in Brunei after 10 days holiday in Dubai, unfortunately we all have rather nasty jetlag keeping us up half the night – I suppose that is our punishment for having such a good time on holiday. Both kids keep telling me that they have been falling asleep in class, but it sounds like they are not the only ones.  I guess when you go to an International school everyone has jetlag after the holidays.

We flew out to Dubai late on the 23rd after opening most of our Christmas presents that we wouldn’t be taking with us.

Lots of lovely gifts from NZ!  Including coloured hair chalk from Aunty Sarah.

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Daddy got a new foot stool.

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Mummy was very spoilt  with a new mixer, something I’ve been wanting for a couple of years now.Image

We arrived in Dubai early Christmas Eve getting to Sarah and Karl’s house around 3am.  The kids were happy enough to go straight to bed and we all slept in until about 9am.  Christmas morning was super fun with all the kids in the house, and Karl even made it home from his latest trip in time to join us all.  We went to Brunch on Christmas day at the Meydon Racecourse, it seems to be the thing you do when in Dubai!  The food was fantastic with so much choice it was almost too hard to decide what to eat next, plenty of wine and beer (makes a change from Brunei) and lots of entertainment for the kids.  Several of Sarah and Karl’s friends joined us at the Meydon which made it so much more entertaining for the grownups too.

Opening their santa sacks with Seamus and Charlotte, still in their jarmies complete with bedhair.

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Arriving at the Meydon, cousins enjoying hanging out with each other.ImageImage

I tried to take photo’s of the buiding because it was just an amazing piece of arcitecture, but the photo’s could not do it justice.Image

The Dubai skyline on the way home in the taxi.Image

Angus’s Christmas present from us was a ‘green machine’ which defies explanation, but is obviously a ton of fun!  Seamus has one as well, so there were lots of green machine derby’s on the road outside Aunty Sarah’s house.Image

Of course we had to do some touristy stuff in Dubai while there, so Sarah took us to Ski Dubai for a bit of a play in the snow.  We didn’t ski this time, but I think Sarah was planning on going back at some stage to take some lesson’s.  Its hard to imagine this huge snow mountain in the middle of a Dubai shopping mall, and its even weirder once you are inside and can see all of the happy shoppers watching you from the other side of the glass.

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Next stop Abu Dhabi, but I’ll put that on its own post because this one is getting rather picture heavy already – see I told you we had a good time, we packed a lot into 10 days.

Busy Children

December is always busy I suppose, and Brunei has proved to be no exception.  Angus had yet another school production to perform in (Starship Silver and Grey) over two evenings, Renee had two ballet performances (and several rehearsals) and finally today, on the last day of school for the year Renee had a nativity play.  Of course this has all been frantically fitted in between Christmas parties and end of year functions.  Thank goodness the school holidays start tomorrow and we have three weeks of slow starts and no more packed lunches!

Some photo’s of these busy kids then:

Angus’s school production, his job was to hold a silver archway, and sing loudly.

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Renee’s ballet performance of Sleeping Beauty, was a bit excessive for a four year old to be honest.  In the week before the two performances she had two dress rehearsals and her usual ballet class, the times of which kept changing on a daily basis.  The tickets for the performance were $20 per adult, which I guess was to pay for the fantastic costumes, set, lighting etc – truly I would have been just a pleased to see her stand up in a second hand tutu and dance with only her class mates.  Will try to keep this in mind next year…….

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Today’s performance was the Christmas Nativity story with the other P1 children at her school.  I was a bit surprised that they would have a christian performance like this but then I suppose it is an international school and they have to cater to all.  There were a few of the Muslim kids not attending today which is understandable.  Renee was an In-Keeper for this performance, so I had to dust off the sewing machine and make her an outfit.  Mum – you will recognise the top half as that pretty cotton peasant blouse/dress you bought her earlier this year.  Poor Renee had a small accident over the weekend and came off with a nasty big bruise on her forehead (boys shut a door in her face!), so she was most pleased this morning when I insisted we apply makeup before going onstage, you can almost pretend the big egg isn’t there?

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Renee with her two best girlfriend’s Niah (the shepherd) and Luciana (the angel).

And lastly I thought I must pop a wee something on here about our two new additions to the family.  These two boys were dumped behind the local supermarket, in a plastic bag, at around three weeks old.  Thankfully they were discovered very quickly by a kindly sort (don’t think they would have survived the night) and taken to a foster home until they were old enough to be re homed.  There were three brothers, one was taken to his new home before we met them, but I didn’t have the heart to separate them so they both came home to live with us.  We are not sure about their parentage, but they might have some sort of Siamese in there somewhere given that they are both white with blue eyes and points.  Sparky (or Sparkly as Renee calls him) is a red or fire point and wee Freckles has a grey tail and freckly paws.  Before any of you say anything, yes I am aware that Craig is severely allergic to cats, and no, it was not my idea to get them, it was Craig’s suggestion.  Craig is coping fine, the kittens sleep together in the pantry at night so are kept well away from poor Craig who loves them just as much as the rest of us.Image