Location: Fort Galle , Galle, Sri Lanka (6° 1′ 53.19″ N, 80° 12′ 58.78″ E)
Date: 12 October 2010, 6.10pm
Camera: Canon 500D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5
I first visited Galle in 1996 and spent less than 2 hours there. I did not do much research about the place then and went there because it is one of the tourist destinations touted by travel publications on Sri Lanka. I was a little disappointed with Galle then as there was really nothing to see apart from some old style Dutch buildings which are in various state of disrepair. Later I realised that it is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Lately I have read some travel guides that described the place with flowing praise, more for the so-called transformation into a shopping paradise for arts and the money spent, mainly by rich European expatriates in renovating and transforming some of the older buildings into boutique hotels and art outlets. So I told myself I must spend two days there the next time I visit- which I did recently- I specially extended my stay in Sri Lanka for this. Well, I was reasonably disappointed again. Yes, there had been some restoration of old buildings but the audience is obviously rich Europeans tourists. Most of the houses and churches are still in “original” state despite the “city” being a UNESCO site and hence, getting funds to preserve and upkeep. I guess the UNESCO inscription was for a “fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.” and in that sense it is correct. I do enjoy the fact that it is a living city with people actually living and breathing in the old houses, and for centuries for that matter. But that is also changing- many of the houses are already under renovation and soon the character of this place will change from being a living city to a commercial city.
Who doesn't love Elmo and Cookie Monster? And who doesn't love cupcakes? So when I first saw Elmo cupcakes on justJENN last year, I made a mental bookmark, as well as shot my sister an email to find me some red sanding sugar in LA. (Where to get it? Surfas in Culver City is a good place to start, or their online store.) I guess when she spotted the perfect blue for Cookie Monster, she bought that as well for me to bring back to Taipei, as well some white chocolate chips and smaller chocolate chips.
So when there was a chance to make them for an Elmo lover this past spring, I put my handiwork to the test.
The steps are fairly straightforward- you just need to do some prep work for the eyes and mouths before hand. And for Elmo's nose, I used some marshmallows I had and cut them into shape.. Otherwise you could use orange jellybeans or soft candies.
stuff you'll need:
vanilla or cream cheese frosting
red/blue sanding sugar (or food coloring)
white chocolate discs (or marshmallows)
mini chocolate chips
orange marshmallows (or gummi drops or jelly beans)
1. First, let the baked cupcakes cool down and frost them! Use vanilla or cream cheese frosting as I tried it with chocolate at first and the colors came out too dark. (See the first picture of the two pairs! The top is with chocolate frosting and the bottom with cream cheese).
2. While the cupcakes are cooling, pour the sanding sugar into two plates so you can dip the frosted cupcakes onto it. Also, cut off the nibs of the chocolate chips and use frosting to "glue" the chocolate onto the white chocolate. You could also use marshmallows for the white of the eyes. I also tried using a food coloring marker I had bought, but it didn't work as well. Then take apart oreo cookies and break each side in half. I scraped off the cream, but I guess you could use that as "glue" as well.
3. Assemble! Dip in colored sanding sugar, add eyes, mouth and for Elmo, a bright orange nose, using a touch of frosting underneath to make sure it sticks. Could be fun to do with friends or kids too...
For Cookie Monster, have the eyes be off center and in different directions.
4. And you're ready to party!
One thing is to be patient and be sure to let the cupcakes cool down completely. I think I rushed some of them and they were still not totally cool and the next day the sugar had sort of melted and some of the faces slid away from what they were supposed to look like. :( Or the humidity in Taipei. Or don't cover and seal them like I did in the cupcake holder until you're ready to go.
But we stuck them in the fridge for a little bit and the cupcakes were still a hit and though quite sweet with all the sugar and chocolate, super cute!
Happy halloween this weekend!
If you believe in reincarnation - pray not to become a woman in rural China in your next life.
Status of females in Chinese villages is not enviable from birth to death: three evidences to it are reflected in 1) statistics of infant mortality breakup by gender, 2) statistics of females suicides and 3) statistics of domestic violence.
The latter - violence in family only recently came into public light. The term "domestic violence" was included in Chinese Law for the first time only in 2001. And the first court decision protecting woman's safety from family abuse was made in 2008.
All that on the background of figures showing that domestic violence occurs in about 30% of Chinese families...
Unfortunately most of the victims prefer to live with it in fear of losing their face or being retaliated by their own family members.
Location: Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India (26° 55′ 26″ N, 75° 49′ 36″ E)
Date: 3 Jan 2009; 8.30am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5
Jaipur forms one of the legs of the so-called “Golden Triangle” of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur that nearly every tourist to India will visit. The city is a chaotic city- just like anywhere in India- and has a few interesting attractions, including the UNESCO Heritage Site of Jantar Mantar. However I always enjoy visiting the Hawa Mahal in the city.
Hawa Mahal means the “Palace of Winds” and is part of the City Palace complex. Nothing much of it is left except its exterior five-storey structure. The structure was designed like the crown of the Hindu god, Krishna. but with 953 small windows known as jharokhas, decorated with intricate lattice work. the windows was designed to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen as they have a tradition of strict face covering (purdah) for the ladies then. Hawa Mahal was for many years in a rather derelict state with peeling paint and broken windows until a restoration effort that started in 2005. It is now somewhat more “pretty”.