Sweet Sunday: Banana Cake with Walnuts and Chocolate Chips (Vegan!)

I have made cakes without butter. I have made cakes without eggs. I have made cakes without milk. But this is the first time I’ve made a cake without all three.

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Foodful Friday: Lemon Lime Loaf Cake

I am not going to preface this recipe with any long-winded story about how I was feeling adventurous about baking a new cake under COVID-19 quarantine conditions, nor about how I had all these limes that were going bad, nor about I looked up several recipes on the internet to get ideas, nor about how I finally decided to just wing it.

I’m just going to lay it all out for you to try.

The recipe makes a loaf tin size cake and serves 10-12. My family of six had it for dessert over two nights. Sooo YUMMY!

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Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Source of book: Borrowed from Internet Archive.

I first heard of this book when it first came out in 2003, or shortly after. People raved about it and my sister recommended it as well. So, I put it on my to-be-read-one-day list.

Well, 17 years later, I finally got around to reading it.

The Curious Incident is told from the point of view of Christopher John Francis Boone. The dog in question is Wellington, a poodle which belongs to Mrs Shears, who lives on the opposite side of the road, two houses to the left from where Christopher lives with his working-class widowed father in Swindon.

At the beginning of the story, when Christopher is 15 years, 3 months and 2 days old, at 7 minutes past midnight, he sees Wellington lying in the middle of Mrs Shears’ front lawn with a garden fork stuck through its body. He thinks it is a great mystery and is determined to find out who the murderer is. The book is him telling us all about it.

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Life in the time of COVID-19, April 2020

The world as it is on this day, Easter Tuesday, 14th April, 2020.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America.

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia. Daniel Andrews is the Premier of Victoria.

Yang Amat Berhormat Tan Sri Dato’ Muhyiddin Yassin is the Prime Minister of Malaysia after Mahathir Mohamad‘s unexpected resignation on 24 February 2020 as part of the Malaysian political crisis.

Australia has closed its borders to the world. Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland have closed their borders to the rest of Australia. Daniel Andrews has extended a state of emergency for another month (until the 11th of May).

For almost three weeks, pubs, cinemas, restaurants, indoor sports have been closed. Concerts, festivals, sports, weddings have been cancelled. Churches and all places of worship are closed. Churches and religious gatherings are not allowed. Only 10 people can attend funerals.

My small church of about 50 regular attendees has worked hard to make the switch to live stream the services. My family, along with others, watched the live stream from our homes. In some cases, we did communion at home, too.

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Before the lockdown, Mr Yewnique was already working from home one day a week. But now, he is working from home every day. The transition has not been too difficult for either the employees or the clients as one or more of the team were already working from home part of the time anyway. The lockdown has only proven with more clarity that working from home is extremely doable.

My younger daughter’s dance classes are going to be held on Zoom. Sadly, the dance competition which was scheduled to be held in July has been cancelled. In March, we were told that the Victorian State Youth Ballet’s production of Alice in Wonderland, which was originally planned for May, was going to be pushed to July. No word if that is still going to go ahead. With the more restrictive social distancing rules in place, it looks very much like it won’t happen at all.

Term 2 of school is supposed to start today (after the Easter holidays), but the government has declared it a Pupil-Free Day aka Curriculum Day aka a day when the teachers go to school to plan. So, school will start tomorrow.

The official word is that students who can do school from home must do school from home.

My younger son will do school at home and his schoolwork and assignments will be sent via email.

My older children’s university work is done online.

My older son has been told that his part-time job as a school crossing guard will resume tomorrow as there will be some students who will go to school.

Hairdressers, nail salons and beauty salons are all closed. Most boutique stores are closed. Stores selling a wider range of general household items — KMart, BigW, Target — are still open, although some with altered operating hours.

Public playgrounds are closed. That said, I have seen people disobeying this.

Petrol can be found for less than $1 per litre in Melbourne if one looks for it.  (I personally have not seen this.)

Three weeks ago, panic buying abounded, leaving many supermarket shelves empty. First, it was toilet paper; then it was pasta, rice, and flours; then, meat and canned food.

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Hey, ho! No toilet paper rolls

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Nor pasta…

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…nor large packs of rice…

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…nor cheaper cuts of meat. > $20/kg meat still available.

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Organic and Health Foods still available! 😀


Supermarkets have restricted some products to one or two per shopper.

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Tape on the floors at shops to help distance shoppers (1.5m) from each other. Limited number of people inside shops, therefore lineups outside the doors.

There have been videos of shoppers behaving badly posted on social media. I personally have not witnessed bad behavior. It could be because of when I go to the shops. I normally go in the afternoon when it is less busy. The area I live in is extremely multi-cultural and I have not seen any racist behavior.

My husband said that since he is not travelling to work, we are saving on petrol and parking. He suggested using some of that money towards supporting some of the local eateries by ordering take-aways. So, we’ve been ordering take-aways a bit more than we used to. (Still not a lot, really.)

What has it been like where you are?

Foodful Friday: Kuih Ketayap (Pandan-Flavoured Crepes with Grated Coconut Filling)

Hello again, my fellow readers, after a very long spell. Life here at the Yewnique household has been mostly same old, same old and not blog-worthy.

As I venture more firmly into middle age (I marked my 48th birthday last month), I feel that I am becoming increasingly Malaysian in my palate; I have craved for Malaysian street foods and delicacies. Fortunately, I live in Melbourne, where there is no shortage of Asian supermarkets and I can easily obtain the ingredients needed to satisfy my cravings.

One of my absolute favourite Malaysian kuih is Kuih Ketayap (koo-eh kuh-tah-yahp), a pandan-flavoured crepe filled with grated coconut and palm sugar.

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2018 Achievements

The last few months of 2018 were good to the Yewnique family.


Younger Daughter took part in her dance school’s concert. It was also the school’s 20th year, so it was a very special showcase.  Over the year, she took every dance class that was offered for her age level, was a concert helper for the younger dancers, and competed in troupes and solos at dance competitions (and did well!).

At the concert, she took part in 14 items and gave it her all in every single one of them. She was awarded (jointly) the Star Performer Award which is awarded to the student(s) who were outstanding on stage during the performance. This award is chosen on the night itself.

She was also awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award which is given to student(s) striving for excellence in dance and performance. She got a trophy to keep and there was also a Cup which is passed on to future recipients.

Star Performer Award and Outstanding Achievement Award

Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade

Younger Son completed another year of Boys’ Brigade and earned the relevant badges.

Boys’ Brigade


Younger Daughter received Best Girl in the Senior Section.

Best Girl in Senior Section

Older Daughter received the Queen’s Award, the highest international award in Girls’ Brigade. She put in a lot of work over the past two to three years to earn this.

Queen’s Award



Recipe: Bak Stik (Minced Pork Balls Stew)

It’s been many months since I’ve posted anything on my blog.

Since my last post, several rather significant things have happened.

For those who keep a watch on international goings-on, one of the major things that occurred in May this year was that Malaysia had an election. Ever since this smallish South-East Asian country got its independence from the British in 1957, it has only ever been ruled by one government, a coalition of many, many race-based political parties. If you’re counting, that’s 61 years under the same government.

Although there have been several opposition parties, none have been big enough or strong enough to make a dent in the government’s two-thirds majority. About ten years ago, all these small but persistent parties decided to band together and form an Opposition Party that was something to reckon with. It still wasn’t strong enough to win the election, but it was beginning to make some headway.

For the past several decades, many Malaysians had become increasingly frustrated with the political and religious situation. The (now former) Prime Minister and his cronies were corrupt, but how to vote them out? The opposition coalition party were deemed inexperienced and ignorant.

Then, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir decided to come out of retirement and help the opposition coalition. With him at the helm, things started to look a bit more hopeful.

The May 2018 election was unlike any other. Postal voting was allowed and large numbers of the Malaysian diaspora made the effort to register (if they had not already done so) and requested to vote by post. There were some anxious moments with voters receiving their ballot papers quite late with worries they would not be able to get their votes in by the stipulated deadline. Many Malaysians flew back just to vote and were willing couriers for the postal ballot papers. [I did not vote as I did not fulfil the minimum-time-spent-in-Malaysia requirement.]

The result of the election was totally unexpected.  When even political analysts expressed surprise, that’s saying something. Yes, those who were fervently hoping for a change in government felt that the most optimistic outcome would be that the opposition would win more seats, but to win the majority convincingly (not just by a small margin) was more than anyone dreamed possible.

The overseas Malaysians on Facebook were so ecstatic by this outcome that they formed a Facebook group: Global Malaysians Network (GMN). It grew to over 25,000 members within a few days.

A GMN member posted a picture of a “comfort food” dish she made called Bak Stik (pronounced /bahk steek/). When I saw it, I was immediately transported back to my early pre-teen years. At that time, my family had a live-in maid (very common in Malaysia) and she often made Bak Stik for us. It consisted of minced meat patties, long strips of potatoes, and peas, all cooked in a gravy. I had never seen this dish before she came to work for us, nor did I see it ever since (until that Facebook post), so I assumed that it was a dish that she made up.

Well, I looked up Bak Stik and interestingly, there are not that many hits for this dish.

As with many home-cooked comfort foods, there is a lot of leeway when it comes to ingredient amounts. Let your palate be your guide.

Here is my version.

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Lunar New Year 2018



Lunar New Year Eve Dinner 2018

Everything is homemade except the Roast Duck.

Centre: Steamed Fish with Cheong Cheng sauce.

Clockwise from top: Fried Noodles, Char Siew (Chinese BBQ Pork), Roast Duck, Siew Yoke (Chinese Roast Pork), Chinese Broccoli with oyster sauce, Cabbage with Carrots and Glass Noodles.

Orange Chiffon Cake


Red and Gold Fruit Salad

Happy Lunar New Year!

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

I watched this movie while I was in Tokyo. My sister, who lives there, wanted me to have a Japanese cinema experience.

According to this website, the general admission ticket price is Y1800, which is about AUD20, which is comparable to Australian movie ticket prices. According to this blog site, TOHO cinemas have discount prices on certain days:

Ticket prices start at 1,800 yen, but there are opportunities each month to watch movies at a discounted rate! The public can watch movies for 1,100 yen every first and fourteenth of each month. Women have additional benefits; every Wednesday is Lady’s Day for 1,100 yen.

We went on a Wednesday, so my sister paid the discounted price for the tickets.

The cinema itself was spacious, steep, and comfortable. Each row was wonderfully graded such that even vertically challenged people like me could have an absolutely clear view of the screen no matter who sat in front of them! Awesome!

Japanese cinema-goers observe strict etiquette of No Talking, No Noisy Eating, and No Kicking. And, the vast majority stay until all the end credits have finished rolling.

Anyway, on to the movie. The movie we watched was in English with Japanese subtitles. (Some films get dubbed into Japanese.)

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) is based on the 1934 Agatha Christie novel of the same name. Over the 80 years plus since the book’s publication, there have been four movie adaptations (including this one). So, really, we have to ask, “Why? Was this necessary?”

First of all, I would highly recommend reading the book. It is indeed a classic and it should be on everyone’s Must Read list. The book is memorable for its startling and one-of-a-kind conclusion.

Whenever a movie is based on a book, especially a well-known one, there will always be the temptation to make notes and compare the two, and evaluate the adherence of the film’s script to the written word.

In case you couldn’t guess from the movie title, a passenger on the Orient Express has been murdered. The train is stopped by a snowdrift. And so, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot must use his little grey cells to solve this case and present his findings to the police upon arriving at their destination.

The bulk of the book involves  Poirot interviewing and interrogating each of the other passengers. The reader at home will naturally play along and try to solve the case.

While the film also has the detective questioning the passengers, there are also a couple of high-drama action scenes involving guns and chasing (Come on! You’re stuck in a snowdrift. Do you really think you can get away??) that are definitely not in the book. Perhaps the filmmakers felt that only having people sitting and talking didn’t make for very good entertainment? In any case, audiences who are not familiar with the book (like my sister!) can also play along and try to solve the case. Film-goers who have read the book (or have seen a previous movie version), already know the outcome, so their motivation is not to find out who committed the crime, but to see how good this adaptation is compared to the ones before.

Other than the guns and chasing, the movie is quite faithful to the book, and one should not expect otherwise. A film adaptation of such a classic novel is asking for trouble if it veers too far away from the original text.

In the book, Poirot arrives at his conclusion methodically, systematically and with complete professional detachment. This is the Poirot that staunch readers know and love. In the movie, Poirot struggles mightily between doing what the law — and his conscience — demands, and what grace, charity, and ultimately justice, demands. I think this is a nice touch because it casts a light on the deeply human and Catholic side to the otherwise cold and logical detective.

Recommended, but you don’t have to splash out big bucks to see it. See it at the budget theatre, or wait for it to come on TV.

Book Review: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

I bought this book for myself while shopping for a birthday present for my younger daughter back in November 2017.  I heard that Tom Hanks — yes, that Tom Hanks — had written a book; news of it appeared on my Facebook news feed. I had not planned on buying this book when I ventured out that day, but when I saw it stacked up in the Books section of KMart, I decided to buy it.

I am not normally given to impulse purchases, so when my older daughter saw it in the plastic bag along with the books I had bought for her sister, she picked it out and asked, “Who’s this for?”

“It’s for me,” I replied.

“That’s not like you to buy books on a whim.”

“I thought it looked interesting.” As if I need to give a reason.

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