HALLOWEEN SHORT – Steps

I remember…them talking about it at uni…or something…

Leon and I didn’t exactly believe in that sort of stuff – it’s all made up stuff for grabbing attention anyway.

If I..remember correctly, it was just at the start of autumn. Leon and I were having coffee when mum texted. After hanging up I told Leon “It’s Jules, the granny living in our neighborhood. She passed away.” It was a little upsetting..I mean, that lady used to play with us from time to time and brought us cookies and whatnot. It was nice…we didn’t really see much of her anymore when she got a bit sick. My parents didn’t really want us to go near her place anymore because she apparently started talking to herself a lot and no body had any idea where her family or relatives were. I guess it was just a matter of time before people grew distant and she was just on her own all of a sudden..

But…that’s kind of when things got weird. The community wanted to ‘sort her out’ if you get what I mean, so for a while every day there were always people in the neighborhood going in and out. Leon turned up to class a few days after that, and said he wasn’t sleeping too well. He seemed pretty off. Like..he would easily go from participating in the conversation to suddenly going into a trance of some sort. I often had to nudge him a little to snap him out of it. I just kind of figured he was low on sleep so it was only natural that he was acting so weird.

I remember I did end up asking him at one point later, that if he was getting any better with his sleep. You know when you know someone for a long time and the energy level and vibe…is all off. You’re always one of the first to feel it in your gut that something isn’t right. He told me he kept hearing footsteps. “Foot steps..??”

“It’s like over and over again. Different, but always the same.” He said. “Dude, that literally makes no sense.” I told him. How is it different, but the same. Turns out, a few nights after Jules passed away, when he got home late from watching the games he walked pass her place. He heard some noise from the house. That was really late, there shouldn’t have been anyone there at the time, everyone would have gone home to rest and attend their own stuff.

Anyway, he said when he walked up to the windows, he could hear it better. They were sounds of someone’s footsteps on the stairs. Weird. He went closer and peeped through where the blind was kind of parted, and saw someone at the stairway. Whoever it was…stopped dead in the track…as if knowing Leon was watching. He kind of freaked and bolted home after that. So, um…this was when it started. Leon said that night, he dreamed of walking down a dark street at night. It was completely empty. It was a very, very strange feeling of emptiness. The sort that consumes you sometimes when you lie awake at night in bed, and those heavy yet unexplained feelings weigh down on you. He felt out of breath – scared even. Don’t know why. That’s when he heard foot steps. So strange…they reminded him of the ones he heard at Jules place. I mean footsteps right? But he swore there was a difference and it kept making him think of that. I asked him..if he saw the face. He was quiet for a while. He said it was very dark in the house. Moonlight helped a bit but it was practically pitch dark from his waist up.

It didn’t stop there. Every night after he had trouble sleeping. He said he always felt like the footsteps became faster. Faster and faster each night. He could never see anyone, or even see himself. But he felt the need to run. Something triggered his sense of fight or flight…it was…threatening somehow.

But…few days after that, it stopped. In his dream…he remembered vividly, almost reaching his house when chased by the footsteps. They were already beyond ordinary by that point, with the speed it was walking at. But it stopped. He didn’t hear anymore foot steps the following night. He slept better, but he said that even then he felt really drained. Energy just wasn’t coming back even though he felt better rested. It was this ongoing fatigue that was eating at him. Most days he really just preferred to go straight home cause it was a lot for him to even just hang for a coffee. Well, definitely not for a coffee..

Things…got worse suddenly. He told me, after telling me to promise not to think his losing it..that some of his stuff at home have gone missing. His parents didn’t touch them. They were very specific things he had kept in specific places. Just gone. One day they’d be there, the next day they were just gone from the house. Then, sheets of paper just turned up out of nowhere, scattered in no particular place around the house in the following days. I didn’t think he was going nuts or….I don’t know. I just wasn’t sure what to think. Especially when he told me what the sheets of paper said. “I’m…here” Over and over again. Some unfinished, some just really oddly written. Dragged, strange font or style…it didn’t feel good. I considered maybe his parents wanted to play a cruel joke on him…but I doubted it. His parents are kind of strict and to be brutally honest…bit of a bore – they rarely did anything fun for themselves..haha..

I..shouldn’t say that. They’re going through hard times right now. Leon…sorry.

Leon is gone. We don’t know where he went. He got to the point where his parents decided he should rest up at home and see what the doctors could do. I got a bit busy with some class assessments and…I just kind of didn’t get around to him as much.

His parents said he stopped sleeping, altogether. He murmured all the time “It’s starting again..It’s starting”. He began to stare at the bathroom a lot the day before he disappeared. He would just stare. In a trance, at the tiles like something was there, or is there…

Strangely, that night…he set foot into the bathroom. He was awfully quiet by then. I don’t know if I felt something wasn’t right. I had come over to visit and see how he was doing – with everything else on hand settling down for me. The three of us were at the door, a brief chat ensued to brush me up on the situation and know the yes and no’s for this visit.

“Leon..?”

Just like that. He was gone. He never came near us at the front door. But he was gone. Looked all over the house and called the cops.

I stood a distance away from the bathroom. His parents, frantic in the background as the cops arrived and the neighborhood gathered.

For some reason, what the other kids were talking about at school that day came back to me. “You know how they’re like tearing down the old dormitory and rebuilding it right? I went home late after finishing up some studies and heard someone pacing around in there…it was like 12am at night, why would anyone still be there?”

“Did you see anyone?”

“Oh god no, are you kidding me?? I…no. I once heard a friend’s dad who studies mythology talk about something he read out of interest…some article about avoiding abandoned buildings, especially if you hear footsteps.”

Laughs. “Ok…why?”

“Can’t really remember, something like it follows you or like takes you or something. I didn’t like it. Scratched that memory big time.”

“Wow…you’re a wuss.”

“Excuse me?”

……Chattering fades out gradually.

 

*Sounds of pacing footstep.

 

 

 

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JAMMY CREME BRULEE – Recipe


SERVES 6 Small Pudding Cups / 4 Regular Ramekins

RASPBERRY APPLE JAM Ingredients:

  • 250g (3 Green Apples)
  • 125g (4.4 Ounces) Raspberries/Strawberries
  • 90ml (6+1/2 Tablespoons) Water

Method

  1. Wash and peel the apples.
  2. Avoiding the core, cut the apple into quarters.
  3. Place apples in a wok (for even heat distribution) or a large pan and cook with the water on high for 10 minutes. Cover with a lid and stir a couple of times as it cooks. The apple will turn a deeper yellow and smell fragrant when done.
  4. Add raspberries to apples and cook for a further 10 minutes on medium uncovered. They will be soft and jam-like in texture.
  5. Allow to cool slightly and process in a food processor or with a wand until smooth.
  6. The pectin in the apples removes the need to use gelatine.

 

 

CREME BRULEE Ingredients:

  • 250ml (1 Cup + 1/2 TBSP) Thickened/Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean & Seeds
  • 25g (1 + 2/3 TBSP) Caster Sugar
  • 80g (4 Large Egg Yolks) Room Temp.

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 150C (302F).
  2. To each pudding cup, add generous 1/2cm worth of raspberry apple jam & level it out roughly. About 2 heaped Teaspoons or so.
  3. Add 1/2 vanilla bean pod and its seed into the cream in a saucepan. You can get the seeds by slicing it lengthwise in half, then use the back of a knife to scrape out the seeds.
  4. The other half can be stored airtight in a cool dry place for another recipe.
  5. Bring to a gentle simmer where bubbles start to appear around the edges of the saucepan.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until combined.
  7. Gradually whisk in the cream to combine.
  8. Skim off the froth and any bubbles, gently strain into a pouring jug.
  9. Pouring gently, divide between the pudding cups, skimming off any froth as needed.
  10. Bake in a deep tray of boiling water filled up to half the height of the pudding cups.
  11. It is ready once the brulee just barely wobbles in the 1cm from the middle.
  12. Remove from the water bath and allow to cool completely before chilling in the fridge, covered with cling wrap or foil until serving.
  13. Alternatively, you could also cover tightly in foil then freeze for up to 2 weeks or so. Just thaw before serving, and brulee as per normal.
  14. To brulee, take additional sugar of choice and spoon it over just enough to cover the surface evenly. You could tilt and turn the cup or ramekin to help disperse it.
  15. Torch it with blow torch on medium heat from a distance to avoid burning it too much, or put it under the grill until same effect takes place.
  16. Allow it to sit for a bit to harden and cool so you don’t burn your mouth over hot caramel, and so that you can get the iconic creme brulee ‘crunch’ with the spoon.

 

BON BONS/TRUFFLES – Recipe

APPLE GOO BON BONS

= 100-200g (3.5-7 Ounce) White Couverture Chocolate
(Tempered)
= 1 Tablespoon or To Taste Raspberry Powder
= 250g (3 Regular) Granny Smith Apples
= 125g (4.4 Ounces) Raspberries/Strawberries
(Fresh/Frozen)
= 90ml (6 Tablespoons) Water

 

 

Method

  1. Wash, peel, core, and dice apples.
  2. Place apples in a wok (for even heat distribution) or a large pan and cook with the water on high for 10 minutes. Cover with a lid and stir a couple of times as it cooks. The apple will turn a deeper yellow and smell fragrant when done.
  3. Add raspberries to apples and cook for a further 10 minutes on medium. They will be soft and jam-like in texture.
  4. Allow to cool slightly and process in a food processor or with a wand until smooth.
  5. The pectin in the apples removes the need to use gelatine.

 

ESPRESSO SAUCE BON BONS

  • 100-200g (3.5-7 Ounce) Dark Couverture Chocolate, 70% Cocao (Tempered)
  • Handful of White Couverture Chocolate (Tempered)
  • 200g (1 Cup) Muscarvado Sugar, Packed
  • 120ml (1/2 Cup) Thickened/Heavy Cream
  • 60g (4 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
  • Pinch Of Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Espresso Coffee Granules
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract

 

 

METHOD:

  1. Mix the brown sugar, half and half, butter and salt and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker.
  3. Add the vanilla.
  4. Turn off the heat, cool slightly and pour the sauce into a jar.
  5. Refrigerate until cold.

 

MINT SYRUP

= 100-200g (3.5-7 Ounce) Dark Couverture Chocolate,
70% Cocao (Tempered)
= 150g (2/3 Cup) Caster Sugar/Vanilla sugar
= 150ml (2/3 Cup) Water
= 1-2 Teaspoons Pure Mint Extract, To Taste

 

 

PASSION FRUIT BON BONS

= 100-200g (3.5-7 Ounce) White Couverture Chocolate (Tempered)
= Passion Fruit Pulp, As Needed

 

BLUEBERRY YOGURT WITH COCONUT

  • 100-200g (3.5-7 Ounce) White Couverture Chocolate (Tempered)
  • Blueberry Yogurt (Choose One That Won’t Separate)
  • = 2 Handfuls of Desiccated Coconut, Toasted

 

LAVENDER y

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE – Recipe

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE – Ingredients: Makes 1 Tablespoon

  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice

METHOD:

  1. Measure the spices and add them in a bowl or over baking paper.
  2. Stir or whisk until well combined.
  3. Store airtight in empty spice jar or any airtight container.

CARAMEL APPLE BUNS

BUN BREAD Makes 12

  • 2 + 1/4 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 236ml 1 Cup Milk, Tepid
  • 112g 1/2 Cup Caster Sugar
  • 86g 1/3 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temp.
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 500g 4 Cups Plain/All-Purpose Flour

METHOD:

  1. Stir yeast into tepid milk in mixer bowl. Allow to activate and foam up for 5 minutes.
  2. **If you use fresh yeast, or active dry yeast they both require the step for activating in tepid liquid until frothy. If using instant dried yeast, you can skip this step and add it directly to the dried ingredients.
  3. Add the sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour to the bowl.
  4. Use dough hook or by hand, knead until well incorporated.
  5. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow to proof till double in size in a warm place.
  6. Roll out the dough till 16 x 12″ rectangle in size, 1/4″ thick.
  7. Slightly warm the caramel till spreadable consistency and spread over the dough evenly.
  8. Sprinkle over the fine apple pieces.
  9. Gently roll from one of the long sides to the other. Using sharp knife or floss method to slice into 1 + 1/2″ thick slices.
  10. Place into muffin pans and cover with damp towel or cling wrap for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  11. You can also make this ahead of time and allow to prove in the fridge for an entire day – it will be easier to work with and you won’t have to rush with making everything all at once.
  12. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  13. Bake for 20 minutes or until just slightly golden in colour.

 

CARAMEL APPLE FILLING

  • 250g (Cup) Caster Sugar
  • 95ml (7 + 1/2 Tablespoons) Water
  • 86ml (Cup) Thickened Cream
  • 65g (Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Large or 3-4 Small Red, Firm Apples, Diced into 1/2cm Cubes
  • Pink/Sea Salt, Optional

METHOD:

  1. Over medium-high heat, cook the sugar and water in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan without stirring.
  2. Once the sugar dissolves and mixture turns a dark amber color, add the cream. * Be careful as the mixture will bubble and spit a little.
  3. Swirl and stir it until it subsides, about 30 seconds – remove from heat.
  4. Stir in the butter & salt.
  5. For the apples, peel & cut into quarters around the middle core. Cut into sugar cube or smaller sized pieces roughly.

 

FA GAO (PROSPERITY CAKE) – Vegan Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 125g (1 Cup) All-Purpose/Plain Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 100g (1/2 Cup) Dark Brown Sugar
  • 130ml (1/2 Cup + 1 TBSP) Hot Water

 

METHOD:

  1. Stir together sugar and hot water till well combined.
  2. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
  3. Gradually whisk in one direction as you add in the sugar water. Once all combined, continue to whisk in one direction for 5 minutes.
  4. Line molds with regular cupcake paper. I’m using fairly standard sized pudding molds. Ceramics are traditionally used, but thinner containers of other materials for baking may work as well so long as they are thin enough to conduct the heat in small amount of time.
  5. Chinese tea cups, small ceramic bowls are traditional go-to, otherwise muffin or tart pans can come in handy too.
  6. In a large wok or deeper pan, bring lots of water to boil on high heat – it should be just under the height of the bamboo steamer or just under where your cakes sit.
  7. Pour batter into lined molds till just under the brim, cover and steam for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Do not open the lid in the first 10 minutes.

CREAM CHEESE MINTS – Recipe


CREAM CHEESE MINT Ingredients:

= 250g (9 Oz) Cream Cheese, Room Temp
= 57g (1/4 Cup) Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
= 875g-1kg (7-8 Cups) Pure Icing/Confectioners Sugar, Plus Extra
= 1 + 1/2 Teaspoon Mint Extract
= Matcha Powder, 2 Teaspoons or To Taste
= Chocolate Chips, 2 Teaspoons Worth

METHOD:

  1. Over low heat in a saucepan, melt together butter & cream cheese till smooth.
  2. Begin to add sifted icing sugar, you will need a large amount in order to get it to the consistency to be able to handle and shape it.
  3. Once it is firmer bread dough consistency where a large handful holds its shape in your hands it is ready and you can add in flavourings and colors. Make sure to use gel based coloring if you can to not water down the mix.
  4. From here I take the size I want to use to make which was shy of a tennis ball size and rolled it in more icing sugar, kneading between my hands until it was not sticky anymore.
  5. Roll between hands until smooth and round, place on a tray or cutting board and shape neatly as you like. A round, a square, etc whatever you prefer.
  6. You can then take cookie stamps or cutters, press firmly into the mint to emboss it with a pattern. You need to do this soon after rolling or the cookie may begin to crust and set and crack under asserted pressure.
  7. You can flatten out the balls a bit and add chocolate chips, paste fillings of your choice before rolling into a ball and embossing.
  8. For the matcha I simply added 2 teaspoons for each ball and kneaded the powder in by hand to create rustic swirls through it.
  9. You can of course even do very tiny ones with multiple colours by getting the consistency right and fitting it into a piping bag.
  10. Air dry these as is for 2-3 days uncovered. If you are worried about pests, cover it with a cake net so it can still vent out and dry. Once the outside is set relatively firm it is ready.
  11. Store airtight, chilled for longer storage but serve at room temperature or it will be hard.