Category Archives: Cooking

Back to Cooking

It feels soooo good to be back in the kitchen again. To feel inspired by sights, smells and flavours. To dream up things I want to eat and things I want to feed my husband. To chop, peel and grill. To present a beautiful plate of food. And most of all, to watch him tuck in happily.

You see, most of the time, M cooks for me. He is a wonderful cook, don’t get me wrong, and I’m very fortunate to have someone who tries his best to come up with something new, exciting and delicious on the menu everyday. Now it’s my turn and I’m gladly returning the favour.

I’ve been a little more cautious with what I eat lately, as I am getting older and it only makes sense to try and eat a more balanced diet in appropriate quantities. I used to have such a hearty appetite, even M was a little alarmed in the early stages of our relationship and casually mentioned that even if I don’t get fat, I might just eat till he and I are broke. After a health scare in my family this year, I’ve resolved to cut down on the quantities of food that I’m packing in, and surprisingly, it didn’t take much effort to do so – it’s the age thing I reckon, I feel full more quickly than I do before with the same quantities of food. But I have my weaknesses – the more-than-occasional chocolate,  the incredibly tasty stuff (i.e. anything tasty is usually high in carbohydrates or fats) and man, do I dislike vegetables. To make matters worse, I don’t see the point of eating fruits. My philosophy was (still is, actually), why make yourself feel bloated with fruit when you can have your rice and meats, and feel properly full instead? People say they feel cleansed after eating fruits, I say I feel stupidly bloated and uncomfortable.

Regardless, I’ve started to pay more attention to what I eat. I still have a bit of a battle with fruits, but I try to have more vegetables and less carbohydrates (rice usually makes me happy). And the only person who could make me eat more vegetables is….unfortunately not my mother or my husband. It is Yotam Ottolenghi. If everyone makes salads like he does, we would all be vegetarians, I kid you not. I first heard of Ottolenghi about 6 years ago, when I realised that M loved the chocolate cake and I asked his good friend to get a birthday cake for him on my behalf as I was living in Singapore. When I came to London for a holiday, I made it a point to drop by Ottolenghi to try the cake for myself, and it was good but I remember thinking how silly those ridiculous good-looking model-esque people were to queue for….salads. I was clearly not herbivorous then. Two years ago, my good friend D suggested for us to have lunch at Ottolenghi, boy was I skeptical but I was keen to try the cakes, so I agreed. That changed my life forever (D has a knack for changing my life, first with macarons then this). I had the roasted aubergines with saffron yoghurt salad and I was SOLD.

I took M to Ottolenghi after that, and he too agreed that the salads were wonderful. So this week, I decided to make the roasted aubergines salad for lunch. I had only two strands of saffron left in the pantry and it wasn’t enough to make the yoghurt, so I tweaked the recipe and added whatever I fancied to make it better. It was mostly aubergines, pomegranate, pine nuts, basil drizzled with a yoghurt-y sauce made from 0% fat Greek yoghurt and some seasoning. I couldn’t stay away from meat of course, so I added some roast chicken slices into the salad, and it was divine. I can’t believe I’m saying this but it is possible to have a delicious AND healthy meal, and this revelation is all thanks to Ottolenghi! Needless to say, M was happy to come home to a good lunch.

We do have sinful meals of course. Just the other night, I made one of my favourite things in the world – Chorizo Spanish Tortilla! Turned out perfect and we were happily fighting for the last piece.

So it isn’t so bad to be healthier, really. I’m back to cooking with more of a healthy focus than before, everything’s still pretty damn tasty and our bellies are happy. I’m looking forward to trying out more new recipes in the kitchen and feeding M. Looks like New Year’s resolution came very much resolved…..early!

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Don’t Steal, It Isn’t Cool

You might have heard of or rather seen my wrath raged and splayed across the internet – yes wrath from the usually peace-loving me. What could have made me so angry, you might ask? Did someone deny of my food? No. Did someone criticise my cooking? No. But heck, someone did STEAL my things. Yes, STEAL.

I woke up bleary-eyed yesterday morning, and something jolted me from my half-asleep stupor. I was notified by Sheryl from Buns In The Oven that my macaron photos have been snitched and put up on the Facebook page set up by Homemade from Scratch Baking, and that they have been passed off as the actual products that the bakery was selling to its customers. I tried to get on the page to verify this, but I couldn’t and my friends from US, UK, Singapore and Australia couldn’t either. It turns out that the owner had barred anyone living in these areas from viewing the page. Luckily for me, Sheryl is based in Malaysia and J from Lady J’s Musings  is living in Switzerland, so they could do some detective work for me. Here is one of the four screenshots of my photos (J sent them to me) which have been posted without permission and without credit, in a way that misleads customers.

From the other screenshots that Sheryl emailed me, it appears that many other bloggers/bakers have been ripped off for their hard work too. Their photos have been snitched and put up, again in misleading ways.

It’s NOT cool to be at the receiving end of this nonsense. Even though my photos are not for sale, and I do not earn any money from writing this blog, the photos, my original recipes, my words are the end products of my creative process. It may not be worth something to you, but it is worth something to me. Snitching any of this is violating copyright. It is all very simple. If one wants to use content that doesn’t belong to him/her, ask. Once the request has been put forward, please don’t go ahead and use it without a proper permission issued by its owner. Only post something when you have received the written permission to publish it!

All you foodies out there, get the word out, let other foodies know that their intellectual property may have been stolen. Get on the page, and see if this happened to you or your friend. If so, get proof of it and make a report to Facebook (I have done so and am having great difficulties, as there are too many photos out there for me to identify every single URL that links to each stolen photo), or ask the owner of the page to take it down (I have asked them, and they have since removed four photos which were taken by me, but the last time my friends checked, there are other photos belonging to other people which are still up there at the time of writing, which is why I’ve also lodged a complaint to Facebook). If you love the work we do, the cakes that honest bakers are churning out, please help.

Thank you so much for staying on till the end of this rant. I feel really strongly about this.

[Update] Facebook has issued this reply to me: 

With respect to the the images depicting products of other individuals, please note that, in order to process a notice of infringement, we need a report from someone authorized to act on behalf of the rights owner. Please forward this to the rights holder and ask them to review http://www.facebook.com/legal/copyright.php?howto_report.

If you know of someone whose photos have been stolen, please let them know the link, thank you!!

My 7 Links

I’ve been tagged by the lovely Lady J on the 7 Links Blog Project, which was created by someone (please enlighten me if you know who it is!) to showcase the top posts from tagged bloggers in 7 categories. The tagged blogger then extends the invitation to do this meme to another 3 bloggers, so if you google this project, you will see that many before me have already done this!

It’s a mammoth task, I would say, to identify 7 of my top posts in these categories. I mean, every post that I’ve written here is a story that I’ve lived through, whether it’s about love, family, friends, and of course, food. So, whilst not many readers may agree with this, all my posts do mean a lot to me because they are part and parcel of my life!

For those who are new to my blog, I would of course ask you to start reading my blog from the very beginning, but that might overwhelm you, so I guess the 7 posts would do! If you’re a regular reader, perhaps some of these 7 posts would resonate with you, but do let me know if you think I have other posts that might better fit the bill!

1. My Most Beautiful Post

My husband, M, brings out the best in me, and all the most beautiful posts on my blog, be it words, photos, or our stories, are inspired by our times together…all our ups and downs, as a matter of fact. Here, I write about finding love, and finding beauty in imperfection in The Truth About Love.

2. My Most Popular Post

According to my site statistics, you guys are loving The Prettiest Cake I’ve Ever Made – Ispahan. This was an entremet that I made having been inspired by my favourite pastry chef, Pierre Hermé, who invented the incredibly seductive trio of flavours that are raspberries, lychees and rose. It was also the very first entremet that I crafted and in my humble opinion, one of prettiest pastries that I’ve put together. This was indeed a mean feat for me, because I’m not the most artistic, or that adept at making beautiful cakes! To my surprise, the editors at WordPress.com loved this cake, so much so that they featured this on Freshly Pressed. The good people at  Foodgawker and Tastespotting thought my Ispahan looked delicious enough to be featured as well, so do swing by and have a look!

3. My Most Controversial Post

So…I’ve ticked some people off on this one. I wrote about how we remained unimpressed by our visits to Paris. I was really misunderstood on this one – what I meant to say was how our visits were thwarted by a series of unfortunate incidents that seemed to happen to us and not anyone else. The less-than-pleasant experience we had in Paris had nothing to do with the jewels of Paris that so many have waxed lyrical on – but my words were misconstrued as a criticism for Paris. For the record, my husband and I are planning on another visit, because we know that treasures are waiting to be found in the City of Lights, and we hope and want to find them. Here’s how I Want To Love Paris.

4. My Most Helpful Post

I mean this in the most literal sense – it’s the most help I’ve tried to organise on my blog and it’s the Fundraising for Japan when the earthquake happened earlier this year. With your help, my dear readers, we raised £1510 for the disaster victims in Japan. I hoped our efforts gave rise to some good for them, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your donations!

5. My Most Surprisingly Successful Post

I wrote this after coming back from the best holiday ever in San Sebastián. I was at my wits’ end as to how I should do the city justice with my mediocre command of the language, and I was dreading how I was going to let the city down. I decided to stop thinking and just feel my way through this post, so I let my senses take over on this one and what transpired was a purely sensual piece of writing that surprisingly, sat very well with my harshest critic (myself), and also the editors on WordPress.com who gave me a much coveted airtime on Freshly Pressed. I remember just diving into this and immersing myself completely in this post as I wrote it. I warn you, this post (pictures aren’t great, but it’s all about the words….) might make you sweat, so brace yourself…San Sebastián – The Land of Promiscuous Eating.

6. My Most Underrated Post

Regular readers would know that I’m obsessed with making macarons. Some of you think that I’m a macaron goddess, not that I am…but errrr…do you know that I once started out this way too? If I can go from a macaron noob to what I have achieved today on the macaron-making front…so can you! Without sounding rude, stop telling me that you’re afraid to make macarons!! Don’t believe it? Check out my macaron journey from the very first post to the latest and I hope you’re inspired to make your own. Now, get your whisk on and just do it!

7. Post I Am Most Proud Of

Not exactly that, but I wrote about one of the things that I am most proud of in this post – starting my blog, writing, and pursuing my hobbies on baking, cooking and food photography that solidly define The Pleasure Monger today. Here’s what I was thinking when The Pleasure Monger turned ONE!

So here they are, my 7 links! Thanks Lady J again for getting me on this one. It was a good way to review everything I’ve written and put some things into perspective! Now for the next 3 bloggers I’m tagging…

1. Sherie at Maameemoomoo.

2. Shulie at Foodwanderings.

3. Annapet at The Daily Palette.

Please feel free to take part in this project even if you’re not tagged, just link it back to this post so we can all enjoy your posts too! Happy reading, everyone!

My Curry Puff Can Sing

M really, REALLY loves his curry puffs. That was the first thing I learnt about him when we were dating. Actually, maybe it’s one of two things that I first knew about M. The other is chicken curry, but since chicken curry is inside a curry puff, I suppose I could call it The First One-Big-Thing I knew about M. Now, M loves a good curry puff so much, that sometimes, I’m not sure which or who he would save in a fire – a puff or me. I’m not offended, because I mean let’s face it – a curry puff looks good and tastes good blistered and flaky – I can’t possible pull that off.

For his birthday last year, M asked me if I could make curry puffs for him. Well, I procrastinated, for a year, but thank goodness, my in-laws bought some Mr. Ting curry puffs and asked my parents to bring them over when they visited us in London. It was a sweet surprise for M. Almost a year later, I decided it was time to honour the request of my dearest husband. M decided to take part too, as he’s personally vested in this, so he made the chicken curry (a very thick version so we can pack it into the puff, you don’t want the curry to be making the pastry soggy…) with LOTS of tender, loving care. I’ve never seen him so focussed on getting the curry perfect for puffs. As for me, I used some of the pastry that was left over from making Portuguese egg tarts, and made more fresh puff pastry to accommodate the big pot of curry.

The result? Suffice to say that we were excellent partners-in-crime. The curry puff was perfectly flaky and fragrant, and yes, I would even go as far as bonkers-land to tell you that my curry puff ‘sings’! If you don’t believe me, watch this video. Yet, no frying was needed! This is definitely one of the best kitchen collaborations between us. We wolfed down two immediately, and exercised some self-restraint by popping the rest in the freezer. These kept well for a few weeks, all you have to do is to thaw the puffs out for a few minutes, and bake them as and when your craving hits.

The recipe for the puff pastry is the same as the one for my Portuguese egg tarts, except that I scaled the proportions of the ingredients up to match 200g of strong white bread flour. This should make about 10 large curry puffs. At Step 7 of the recipe, after cutting the pastry roll into 30g portions, with the cut side facing up (the orientation is very important because you want the flakes to appear like scales of a fish on the puff), press down each portion with the heel of your palm and roll out till you a circular pastry dough that is 12-15cm in diameter. Arrange the curry (preferably with a thick potato base i.e. add lots of potatoes in while cooking the curry, then mash the curry to create a thick luscious and dry-ish gravy) on one-half of the pastry circle, leaving a space round the edges for sealing. Bring the two halves of the circle together and seal by making indentations with the tines of a fork. Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes. If you want to keep them, freeze them before baking and let thaw for a few minutes (not too long though because you don’t want the butter in the pastry to melt – if that happens, the pastry wouldn’t puff up nicely and that means your puffs won’t sing like mine do, no Grammies!), then bake as per instructions.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Just Because I’m Hungry

I was looking through the thousands of food photos (I’m not kidding, I think I have accumulated at least 10000 this year…) that I’ve taken, and went cannibal-listic when I came across this one. I made tau yew bak (braised pork belly) as a supplement to the steamboat reunion dinner for Chinese New Year in February 2011. After hours and hours of patient simmering, I was pleased to know that friends really loved this dish, and even complained that there wasn’t enough. The pork belly practically melted in the mouth, and I wish I had put on a pot of this for dinner tonight. With a steaming hot bowl of rice please.

And I want this too – a heap of cornflake caramel drops, my favourite snack to make for Chinese New Year. So easy to make and even easier to devour…

Someone feed me please, because I’m too lazy to cook tonight!

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

 

The Kinky Ba Zhang

Once upon a time, there were a couple of little rascals I call Ba Zhangs*. They were quite a handful, and ANNOYINGLY stubborn and frigid. It took two of us, M and I, to  get them to behave and spank them into submission.

M is more into speed, and works the kinks out of 3 Ba Zhangs for every rascal I man-handle. If you really want to know, I spend about 20 minutes with each before they finally cave. Speedy or not, after a while, the rascals give in and we soon stumbled upon their dirty little secret. These naughty little bastards are very much into bondage, an unnecessary amount, if I might add. Heck, I even broke a spoon in the process. Tsk tsk.

M likes them a little lean, as you can see. And I like mine bottom-heavy. Whatever, so long as they look sexaaaay!

So we tie them up, give them a good spanking, pop them into a sauna, and out they come, waiting to be disrobed and savaged. Muahaha, revenge is mine….! Then I sink my teeth in. And that’s it. Seven hours of foreplay implodes in four passionate bites.

Too much work for that amount of pleasure, doncha think? First and only time we’re messing around with these guys, I reckon.

*For those who are unfamiliar with Ba Zhang, read this to find out what it is, and its history! By the way, I under-seasoned the glutinous rice, and the leaves were too small for me to shove truckloads of pork belly in. the salted egg yolk I bought was also pretty shite and I couldn’t find dried oysters. The textures were great though but I’m not going to post the recipe because I wasn’t completely happy with the flavours. If you want to know about the technique and tweak my recipe, just leave a comment, and I might add it if quite a few people want it.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker. Check out my profile on Foodgawker to see my other featured posts!

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Dinner Party: The Nasi Lemak That Wow-ed

We were definitely feeling homesick this January, when we decided on a whim, if I might add, to host a Nasi Lemak Dinner Party at our place for some friends. For those of you who aren’t aware of this, nasi lemak is a quintessential dish in Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine. Essentially, it is coconut milk (lemak) rice (nasi) that’s eaten with a variety of condiments such as ikan bilis (dried anchovies), sambal (a type of chilli sauce), hard-boiled egg and roasted peanuts. More modern and gluttony takes have us adding tonnes of goodies such as fried chicken wings, fried fish, sunny-side-ups, to the meal. Nothing pleases me more than a sumptuous plate of nasi lemak, with angiograms in food guises, stacked on top.

We did this for our own consumption about 2 years ago and we pledged not to repeat the feat in a while, even though everything was fabulous and authentic as it could be in our kitchen. Doesn’t make sense? Not really, because nasi lemak takes a hell lot of work. To assemble that deceptively simple plate of nasi, a factory-esque production line is needed. Someone needs to fry up the sambal. Someone needs to fry up the wings. Someone needs to cook the rice. You get the gist. All this cooking has to be timed properly, because you want to serve a hot plate of calorific goodness to people, and man, it was hard to do this during winter.

The amount of work that goes into making ONE plate of nasi lemak is enough to put us off, however delicious it may be. So that’s why I said that we must have been terribly homesick and infinitely kind to want to serve up 6 heaving plates of nasi lemak to our equally homesick friends. I started frying up the sambal chilli, and that took me an hour. All that work for one small pot of spicy goodness. A portion of this chilli went into frying the ikan bilis, leaving too little left for the meal itself. M spent ages marinating the chicken wings, and frying them up to perfection. He fried them again to make them exceptionally crispy, so go figure on the time he took. I made pork satay from scratch, and again, that took me a long time. By the time we got to dinner, we were both exhausted, greasy and looking very unglamourous.

But all was worth it when our friends took a bite and declared our nasi lemak a success. I was thrilled when friends said the sambal chilli was the best ever, because I have been working on the recipe a couple of times over the years in London. M, ever the handsome chicken connoisseur, was equally stoked when the chicken wings literally flew off the serving plate. We felt so much better by the end of the meal, catching up with friends and talking about food over food (by the way, that’s very Singaporean…), knowing that we had served up something good to our friends. We went to bed belly happy that night.

Now now…let’s plan the next nasi lemak party. Who wants to help us with the chicken wings this time round? You get paid in nasi!

P/S: The pictures are a tad pixelated, my bad for not being able to take photos properly in dim light!

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Just Because…

…I LOVE this picture. If you think it looks delicious, that’s because it is. M made this for his darling wife (that would be moi) as part of his birthday celebration line-up earlier this year.

I had planned to make a diner-style dinner for M after baking his birthday cake. It seems to be a routine now, for M to request homecooked birthday meals. Last year, it was curry chicken and fried bee hoon. As a result, I learn to make something new from M’s requests every year. This year was a little different though; I did manage to make a Japanese Cheesecake with Rose Whipped Cream for his birthday party with friends, and a Red Velvet Cake for his actual birthday celebration at home, but I didn’t quite get to the diner-style dinner because I felt absolutely nauseous after trying to frost the Red Velvet Cake. The poor birthday boy had to take over in the kitchen while I rested my cold, clammy head on the couch.

M put his heart into it and made incredibly juicy and flavoursome patties out of beef, pork and sausage meat. He even made shoestring onion rings, which were crusted in a sweet, crisp batter that had some semolina flour in it. Throw in a couple of fresh sweet tomatoes, gherkins for a bit of a kick and melted manchego cheese, I’d say the burgers M made me feel like one very lucky woman.

It’s 11.15pm now, all this talk about burgers and onion rings is making me ferociously hungry. Can someone make me a homemade burger now, pretty please?

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

I Need A Kick Up My Arse

I have been MIA for almost 3 weeks – that’s record time in blogosphere for me. I have also not been getting creative in the kitchen for almost two months, again record time in my teeny tiny world of cooking and baking. I wouldn’t put it to a mental block, because I still think up ideas of what to do next in the kitchen. I still want to document my activities here. But I seem to have lost the will to do it. Zapped of energy and motivation, what makes me even more frustrated is I don’t know how this could have happened. I really do miss having something to look forward to, and getting excited about my plans in the kitchen, plans that usually give me a high and an avenue to take away the stresses in life.

Some weeks ago, after much inertia, I tried to make a Mont Blanc, but I ended up screwing up the swiss roll sponge before I could even get to making the chestnut cream. True to my perfectionist self, I angrily chucked the sponge straight into the bin. It was as if I knew that I was going to fail before I even began. The buzz that I usually get when I’m about to get busy in the kitchen had gone. I thought that it was a phase, so I told myself to move on and let nature take its course. Even kitchen geniuses need to take a break, let alone amateurs like me. M convinced me to go out on weekends to try and soak up what the city has got to offer, to see if I might get the zing back. Then this happened. Thoughts about getting the kitchen mojo back flew out the window.

After that, we went out on trips that we had booked long ago. The first was meant to be a break for us to spend time with each other after the craziness that was the thesis writing, PhD viva and our hectic lives. Given recent events, we didn’t want to go but Expedia wasn’t able to give a refund so after assessing the situation in Singapore and making sure that everything was alright, we went to Florence anyway. A bit of a shame because despite the magnificent city, I was mostly pre-occupied with thoughts of my family. When I finally let go and was ready to enjoy the company of M in such beauty, our trip had ended and we were due to return to London.

Then, M’s parents visited, bearing good news after they visited my dad. We spent lots of time together and took them to Spain during the royal wedding weekend. These things kept me busy, I didn’t have time to think about the disinterest in the kitchen that has hit me like an unfriendly, ugly shadow that refuses to leave me alone. M’s parents just left this week, and it’s our first weekend alone, with nothing to do and yes, those horrible thoughts of mine have returned to haunt me. I dreaded this weekend, I wished I could drown myself in work so I wouldn’t have the chance of feeling dead inside. I spoke to M about this and he said that I should perhaps stop thinking and just throw myself into the last thing I wanted to make. So I attempted a Mont Blanc again yesterday morning.

It was a disaster. The swiss roll sponge came out wrong again, although I did manage to make the creams before I realised that. I was about to throw in the towel, and dump everything into the trash, when I stopped myself for a second and thought, maybe it’s time for me to accept this. That it’s okay to not feel excited about the things I used to be singing about, that it’s okay to feel dead for a while, that it’s also okay to not want to do the things I usually like to do, to just to give it a go than to regret not trying.

The swiss roll sponge did end up in the bin eventually, but not before I used it to learn to construct and plate up my ‘Mont Blanc’. At least one good thing came out of it; I thought the ‘Mont Blanc’ looked decent, imperfect yes but decent, and I practised shooting it with my new-ish lens. The creams were thankfully delish and I snuck a few licks of the spoon, so all was not lost.

I don’t know when the crazed kitchen maniac will be back to inhabit the shell that is me, but bear with me as I get back on track. I may need a kick up my arse along the way, or perhaps you could suggest something to help me retrieve that energy; in the meantime, allow mawkish me to entertain myself and you, my friends, with tales from the past. I guess this might be the best possible time for me to let you in on kitchen adventures that I embarked on months ago (I have almost two dozen drafts of entries….), and to tell you the stories of our travels beyond London.

For now, this ‘Mont Blanc’ that wasn’t, remains a lesson to me – that when things go wrong, some sense or value can still be made of the worst of situations, even if it comes in the form of a few licks of cream or photos that mostly won’t see the light of day. Erm…right?

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker. Check out my profiles on Foodgawker to see my other featured posts!

Fundraising for Japan – A Success, And Yes, We Have A Winner!

Thanks to your generous donations, The Pleasure Monger’s fundraising event for Japan was a success! We may have fell short of the £2000 target, but we did raise a whopping £1510, which amounts to 76% of our target! To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone would donate when I organised this, but a number of you did; the funds that we’ve raised together are so much more than I could ever give on my own. I’m grateful for your support and I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The fundraising page that I’ve set up on JustGiving will run till 2016, so please continue to drop a pound or two to help the victims of the earthquake in Japan. I’m sure everyone knows that the people in Japan are still suffering from the aftermath. For people like us who can’t be there to deliver aid, we can help in other ways. Yesterday evening, I was just thinking how wonderful it would be if everyone who stops by this blog could give a pound or spare some change; we could very well raise £20000 in a month! And then we have other bloggers who are trying their best to raise funds (read the updates at the bottom of this post for more details on how you can get involved), bloggers who are way more popular, prolific and well-known than I am, and if every reader of theirs give a pound for every post they read, they could raise so much more. That £1 makes such little difference to us, but for the victims, every penny counts and the success of the fundraiser thus far proves that we can pool our resources together and make a HUGE difference. So please continue to give, within your means, to any of the avenues that are most accessible to you.

Now, let’s realise the promise I made. When I organised the fundraiser, I said that I would pledge a USD100 Amazon gift card to one lucky donor so long as he/she donates before 31 March 2011 (GMT2359h). So today, I used the random integer generator on random.org to pick a winner and the gift card goes to…….

SHIRLEY!

I’ll be in touch in the next few minutes with an Amazon email containing the gift card. Congratulations and thank you for your donation!

xx