Tuesday, 27 November 2007


Every year, at work, we are having a christmas fayre and the staff association get a stall where they sell cakes. Anyone can bake something or buy the bakings and the money collected goes to a charity.
This year I've baked chocolate tarts.

Here is the recipe:
225g plain flour
100g icing sugar
25g Van Houten (unsweetened pure cocoa powder)
1 egg
125g butter
All the ingedients must be at room temperature. Mix them all quickly. Roll out the pastry and bake it, with baking beans, for 20-25 min at 180 degre C.

Chocolate cream:
100g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
100 ml single cream
Heat the cream with the chocolate gently until they are mixed. Spread the cream on the cooked pastry (don't forgot to remove the baking beans...;0)).

Et voila ! Bon appetit !

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Ginger bread man

Yesterday evening I finally decided to make a ginger bread man. I did prepare the piece of felt almost a year ago ! Andrea gave me the pattern.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


I've just completed my second lace scarf ! This one is for my gran for christmas (She doesn't have internet and doesn't speak english so I don't think she will find out before then).
This is a pattern from Jane Sowerby's book: Victorian lace today. I only made the central panel using one ball of Rowan kidsilk night and 6mm needles. It is a very light scarf (25g) but extremely warm !

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Knitting group

Yesterday it was our weekly knitting group at Border and I took some pictures...
Sheila and her (nearly, just need the beads for the flowers) completed bag from Nicky Epstein's Fabulous Felted Bags.

Some of us are doing a knitted and felted poinsettia wreath as a christmas gift for Laura and Peter, the owner of the most fabulous wool shop I have ever seen: twist fiber craft. There is another knitting group there once a month. This is Louise showing some petals.

Jane knitting a sample

A few month ago, I've knitted 2 blankets for Sheila's daughter. She gave one as a baby gift to friends in South Africa. They liked it so much that they used it for the baby christening. This is a picture of the blanket. It is a pattern from Lucinda Guy, Designs for kids, I've just modified it a little.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Temple of literature - Hanoi

The temple of literature (Van Mieu), dedicated to Confucius, was built in 1070 by emperor Ly Thanh Tong. In 1076, Vietnam first national university was established here to educate Vietnam's administrative and warriors class. The name and birth place of the successful doctorate were engraved on stone steles from 1484 to 1780. The steles are mounted on the back of stone tortoise.Located in the heart of Hanoi, Van Mieu is a quiet and peaceful oasis in the sea of traffic that is Hanoi. Today, art students sit on the grass and try to reproduce traditional vietnamese architecture on paper.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Rickshaw tour in Hanoi

It is much better with the sound !

Nail art

Before coming back, I had a wee treat: a manucure and some flowers drawn on my nails. They are painted one by one on each nail. They had around 50 designs to choose from so it was difficult to make a choice. I am really pleased with the result and I hope I will be able to keep it for a couple of week.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Banh Bao

I have known and eaten banh bao since I am a teen, thanks to my vietnamese neighbour in France. It is a vietnamese delicacy originated from China: stuffed steamed buns. They can be stuffed with meat, vegetables, sweet soya paste...
I asked Oanh to teach me how to prepare banh bao. She had to ask her aunt for the recipe as she never made them (they cost only a few thousand dongs and are widely avalable in Vietnam, although only in a few places they are really good). I should mentionned that we had to call my friend's mum in France at 7am on a Sunday for a few tips...

Anyway, here is the recipe:
Prepare a bread dough with 150g sugar, 1kg white plain flour, 30g dried yeast and water.
Once the bread dough is ready, prepare the stuffing:
Submerge separately 5 perfumed mushrooms , 5 black mushrooms, and 100g of fine rice vermicelli in hot water until softened. Drain the mushrooms and vermicelli, then, chopped the mushrooms finely and cut the vermicelly in bits of a cm long.
Boil quail eggs for 5 minutes.
Mix 100g of lean pork meat finely ground, 250g of fat pork meat coarselly ground, one chinese saucisse sliced (40g), the chopped mushrooms and vermicelli.

Take a piece of dough (size of your choice), roll out thin, add a spoon of filling and 1 or 2 quail eggs. Seal the dough and put on a piece of paper. Wait at least 1h for the dough to raise.

Steam the buns for approximately 20 minutes (it depends on the size of the buns, of course). Banh bao freeze really well so you can prepare a big batch at a time !

Vietnamese food

I am back in sunny Dundee.
As promised, I am going to take a bit of time to post more pictures of my wonderful trip ( I should call it 31 days in heaven !).

First, I am going to talk about food. Vietnamese cuisine is one of the best cuisine in the world (after French cuisine, of course ;0)). You can eat exotic things like dogs or snake (I didn't eat snake this time, as I had some during my previous trip to Vietnam 5 years ago) as well as simple soup prepared with fresh ingredients, grilled meat, fruit juice.... You can enjoy great food in the street for few thousand dongs (few pennies) or go to 5 stars palace and have more elaborate food for a dozen of british pounds (a bargain !).
I enjoyed all that of course as well as home cooked meal as I was staying with friends and the Vietnamese nanny was a really good cook.

Sugar cane juice




Dim Sum are originated from china. It designated a wide range of light dishes.

Dim sum.

Sweet dim sum

This is a traditional vietnamese noodle soup originated from North Vietnam. In Hanoi people eat pho for breakfast.
It is a bowl of white rice noodles in clear beef broth with thin cuts of beef or chicken.
You can ganish the dish with onions, coriander and other vietnamese herbs and adjust the flavor with sauces such as fish sauce.
You can order some garnishes such as unlaid eggs (the yellow balls on the picture). Delicious.


Boiled fertilized quail eggs

Boiled fertilezed hen egg. If you open it, you can distinguished all the different parts of the future chicken ! It is better to choose it recently fertilized as the texture is similar to the egg texture.

Eggs, maize, cane stuffed with glutinous rice cooked on a barbecue in the streets of Sapa.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

The End

I can't believe my holidays are already over !
My luggages are ready.
I won't bring back my lacquer, they are too heavy and paying for the excess weight is a rip off. But don't worry, my friends are bringing them back to France in December.

This is my last post from Vietnam but I still have hundred of pictures I would like to share so I'll post them when I'll get back.
Cheerio !!!

Saturday, 3 November 2007


Vietnam is a great country and there are some extremely well developped services. I wonder how we survive without them in Europe ;0)
For example, you have people waiting at some street corner with a saw (picture) or a drill (and probably other things). I am sure most of the tourists don't pay attention or if they do they probably wonder why they are here waiting. Well, this is simple, they are offering a sawing (or drilling) service. If you have anything that needs to be sawn then you come to pick up the guy, show him what you want him to saw and once it is finished, you pay him and drive him back where you picked him up.


Done !
I did it, in less than 4 weeks. This week I had to sand the lacquer, and believe me, this is a hard and lengthy job ! You first sand with a very fine sand paper then you use a stone. You have to be extremely careful not to sand too much and you also have to remember in which order and how thick each lacquer coat is! When the lacquer is smooth and flat you have to polish it so it become shiny. For that you have to use a tiny amount of a sort of clay powder (it feels like greasy) and your hand. I had some help to polish the 2 lacquer otherwise I wouldn't have had enough time to finish them.
The final touches are golden leaves.
The pictures will evolve with time and the final result will be reach in 2-3 years. I told you, you need patience with lacquer !
Now my biggest challenge will be to bring them back. They are extremely fragile and heavy. Additionnally they are bigger than the authorised hand luggage size... I will probably have to buy a hard suitcase and pack them with a lot of bubble wrap. Encens, pray and some bank notes to buddha will help as well, I hope.