Friday, 30 October 2015

WHO sez ...?

Phew! Made it! Thought I'd miss posting something in October.

Just doing my bit for cancer awareness.

Do share to be aware. Peace.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

I became a ghost!

Hey, guess what? I plonked this text on my FaceBook page!

Hello Dear Visitor <3

I guess you're reading this after wondering why I still have not accepted your friend request :)

Here's my take:

a) I set a limit of 50 friends, and I'm maxed out.
I can't keep up with any more than 50 and seriously, who can? lol

b) Let's get to REALLY know each other before we become FB friends.
This takes at least a few months, my dear, not a few comments.

c) Yes, it's virtual, but I seek a gracious, mutual friendship with you.
I will not ignore your comments or only click "Like" silently. I will reply. I will giggle. I will unfriend you if you don't do the same, unless you unfriend me first (dang!).

d) I'm a diecast collector, not a Friends collector, and certainly not a "Likes" collector.
If you are, then please withdraw your request cos I will swiftly lightning-slap on your unfriend button once I find out I'm just a lousy statistic to you.
Here's a reality check - could You also be a statistic to your friends? no, not a lousy one, just the normal data type <-- see? that's how nice I'll be to you.

e) So now you're thinking "she's maxed out her limit... how can she ever include me?"
Well, I unfriend freely. See c & d above. 'nuff said.

Thanks for reading. Maybe you had a bit of a laugh (or a frown). Good luck on your pending friend request to me. God Bless.

Your possible friend,

Yes, I do have a queue of Friend Requests. I decided not to delete them cos I thought I’d see how things turn out between us, but who knows? They may very well pull out their request after reading my post above & *gasp*... Block me!

Yeah, so what? No way am I going to be so lame as to lose sleep by staying awake all night sulking and upset about it... sheesh! well, not anymore anyway... ok, 2 hours tops, promise.

It was actually kinda fun guessing what could possibly have gone through that person’s raging-bull mind to shut me out and damn me to hell like that. I mean, they actually take the trouble to accurately spell out my full username (I should have made it longer!), make EXACTLY sure it’s me (there are hundreds of Angel Tans virtually floating out there), grab that mouse again & click “Block”. Poof! I immediately become a ghost.

They can see others mention my name, laugh at my jokes, ask me questions, but shhh... I’m not visible... Woooooo...

and I can’t see them either. Creepy fun, ain’t it?

I got blocked for the first time (by two Singaporeans, mind you, and on the same day) more than a year ago. They’re friends or cousins or something, together with me in the same FB food group. I was just asking for help from the guy on a cooking dilemma. I private messaged him (the method he suggested didn’t work & I didn’t want to embarrass him by asking openly in the group for all to see), he advised me all nice & friendly, then one hour later BOOM! The three of us became ghosts.

The female one (we’ll call her “The Addict”) was actually stalking me in the group and at one point I wanted to block HER. She made me real nervous to just log in! SHE was scary...

She would also suddenly take a very keen interest in any unsuspecting person (whom she’d never bothered with before) who showed me more attention, especially with a good conversation, as if to compete for them.

Once I caught on to this, I just felt it was so unfair to those people. Till today, I can’t do anything about it... shucks!

I mean, how would I start? Something like this?

“Hello, (insert unsuspecting person’s name) do you really think (insert stalker’s name) gives a hoot about you and your financial problems? How come her fingers were too lazy to click “Like” on your posts in the past, until you and I had that nice, long chat yesterday, and you tagged me today and we LOL non-stop? Wow! Did you so think the French/Spanish/Portuguese phrases she floods all over your post was because her stalker heart cares to sincerely bond with you? I know her husband’s lineage is part this, part that & part the exotic country you’re from – she’s used this to death every chance she gets. He probably had to fill out a form and he won cos he’s got the most cocktail-mixed elite heritage she’s looking for, to boast for all eternity. Yes, we suspect he is possibly part-Martian, too.”

I sound bitchy, don’t I? You don’t believe me, do you? I don’t believe it myself.

I can’t even hold a matchstick to her outstanding scholarly achievements. How can a highly academically accomplished person become so addicted to an FB food group as to go all out to stalk & block an itty-bitty little homemaker like me?

What threat do I pose? For goodness sake, I happily cook, clean, take care of my sick mom, live on a budget and don’t travel anymore (I did say “budget”).

So what do you think? Jealousy? I became a tiny bit too popular at times? Does that even make sense? Come on, everyone has their days on the net. I’m just glad to have fun & laughter when it comes along.

I am a cheerful person and do enjoy everyday delights. I smile when I see flowers in the roadside bush, pet dogs out for a walk, puffy clouds, seniors having a game of chess, raindrops on my window, friends having a chat over coffee. In our virtual world, I applaud witty comments by anyone; I cheer the funny ones!

Yup, I was born happy.

I don’t need diamonds, haute couture or expensive bacon, and certainly not a gazillion “Likes” or boasting about the snowy European country where I’m skiing, to bring me joy. These are all transient. These all I’ve done.

I found it to be a self-centred mess, which is now my faraway past.

So back to The Addict, I really don’t see anything in my life for anyone to feel the slightest tinge of envy... unless...


Could it be she is an unhappy person?

With all her degrees, luxury food, boastings, virtual fame & money to burn, I think The Addict subconsciously knows that these things do not bring lasting happiness, but it’s gonna take time for that epiphany to reach her heart.

So I guess I was too hasty (and, yeah ok, bitchy) to judge her. Empathy is the better choice here.

Do you know of anyone in your life (incuding yourself) who is jealous of someone who has less, but is more happy than they are?

Tell them it only seems that way.

Tell them to peer into their hearts and have a look-see. Their true happiness is within their reach.

Oh ya, and For God’s sake, tell them to unblock me, please! Thanks.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

I grovelled...

Mom landed in hospital... no, wait... I can do a better intro.

So I lost April, May & June - do you know why? Mom landed in hospital... gasp!
Hmmm... One more try, ok?

(clears throat)
My mobile buzzed like crazy. I felt a cold tinge of strangeness in the air.
A quiet darkness swirled in my anxious head.  The voice spoke.
Mom landed in hospital. I hung up.

Not bad, huh?

No, I DIDN’T hang up – sheesh! Of course I got the ward details & immediately rushed down with hubby to see her.

Fast forward to now and all her tests results are okay - Thank you, God!

She’s fine. My mommy’s alright again.

I’m shuttling between her place and mine more often now, but in the 3 months mentioned,  I had hardly any time or strength to pick up a wok, so it’ll just be ‘Angel Laughs’ for now till I get cooking proper, people.

It’s not easy to just pick up from where I last cooked. It’s 3 months not 3 weeks, mind you!

I’ll probably start with something simple like fried taugay (bean sprouts), fried fish and something that was around for donkey decades that I just discovered at food courts due to my zero cooking.

Pork Ribs, Lotus Root and Peanuts Soup, right next to my hot rice & light soy sauce dip, infused with bird’s eye chillies, makes me a happy food blogger. Wholesome goodness & the dip brings home the zing! in my meal. The soup is a rich brown with glistening slices of lotus root, that winks temptingly at me. I usually succumb nowadays.

Let’s see, what else did I stumble upon? Oh ya, MOS Burger’s Kakiage Rice Burger!

This one you must try! I know it may look strange-ish, but believe me it’s like chowing down on wok-fried zhi char* with chewy rice. The flavor pops and at first bite, you immediately wonder why you never ordered it before, like I did. Scallop, prawn & asparagus never had it so GOOD!

It comes piping, finger-stinging hot so it’s best to let it cool down a bit or your tongue can’t taste anything, but ouch!

Ok, one more thing I discovered and it’s not food. It’s mom.

I rediscovered that my mom can still affect me when she does that one thing. It’s something  others also do that never comes close to affecting me.

First of all, you know those moms who don’t ever complain no matter how sick they are? My mom’s not like that. She bites.

It’s not surprising I broke down tired & quarrel-weary many times in my dutiful attempts to make her recovery as comfortable as I could. Together with my sister, we struggled to understand why she didn’t want to stick to her new & heavily restricted diet, and why the heck’s she snapping at us for? We’re not the ones who said no salt, lowest sugar and just 1 litre of water per day. Oh ya, don’t forget cholesterol is a no-no, too. Did I mention we also had to get her moving around and exercise to smoothly slide pass constipation?

Amidst all these argument-filled afternoons & bargaining nights, she just needed to do one thing that immediately got me silent & sorry. Cry.

I grovelled like a starving beggar asking for a crumb of forgiveness. Sorry I yelled. Sorry I was slow. Sorry I was asleep. Sorry I made you cry, again.

Just one teardrop quietly flowing down her cheek and I swear I could hear a crack in my heart so loud, I once cried along with her.

The sadness didn’t last long though. She straightened up, looked at me and exclaimed,”Aiyah! Why you so silly to cry? How are you going to take care of me like that? Come, come we have some kueh** and forget all about this. Silly girl!”

Yup, that’s my darling mom and I’ll bet it’s the same with yours. Lucky us.

*  zhi char is restaurant style cooking found in Singapore’s coffeeshops.
**kueh refers to Nyonya kueh. C’mon, just google it.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Thank you, Mr Lee.

Click photo for full size view

Mentor, Father, Friend of our country, you loved us so much to give us your Best.

You saw us as your children; our young land as your Home.

Thank you, Mr. Lee.

You are my childhood. You are my adulthood. You are my Singapore.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Caught me staring at her husband...

Warning: Reader discretion advised. This entry contains scenes that you may find disturbing... well, I sure did!

It’s Sunday. I’m resting in the seating area of Takashimaya Shopping Centre’s baby department.

Children are laughing, crying and talking non-stop. I see a baby screaming red in the face while the grandfather is gently rocking him in his arms, softly talking to him. He starts to calm down (the baby, not the adult) and we’re back to happy.

A young mid-twenties mother, carrying a quilted bag, arrives with her newborn (and I really mean newborn as this kid can’t possible hold a one-word conversation, let alone hold his own head up). She sits & skilfully whips out a full milk bottle from the bag, while still cradling & cooing to the little sweetie.

Young husband arrives with the pram; two bigger quilted bag are hanging on it. He starts shuffling for someting in one of the pram bags... oh it’s his iPad. He scrolls fast.

Mother gives that bottle a couple of good shakes and feeds it to her baby. Fast as lightning, without missing a beat, father shoves the iPad cartoon screen in front of the child, blocking his own fatherly face and distracting from mother’s motherly gaze.

What the... ? I was stunned. I sat there with eyebrows raised for 5 seconds. I lowered them when the mother caught me staring at her husband.

This man held up the device, unflinchingly for the full 8 minutes or so, it took the little munchkin to quietly finish drinking his milk. Congratulations, Sir - You are an iDad.

Not a single word was exchanged between the couple either. It was as if they’d rehearsed this scene a million times to dullsville. It’s now a mime performance.

Ladies and Gentlemen, am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?

For the life of me, I remember mothers always looking with utter adoration at their babies during milk time, no question about it. As much as possible, proud fathers would make funny faces to entertain their newborns at all times.

He sees your eyes, nose, mouth and ears. He sees your cheeks perk up when you smile. He hears your voice when you laugh. He sees you, his dear mother & father. He shouldn’t be looking at a flat screen device just yet. He’s a baby!

Should I have said something to the uncommunicative parents? I honestly didn’t think I’d get through to these two, so I just sat there for the full 8 minutes and sighed.

Bored, I started making up excuses for them.

1. They are runaway aliens in human form. They mustn’t speak lest the Interstellar Police radar picks up their vocal signals.

2. The baby is a robot. A first generation robot baby that looks & does everything human, except for one glitch - when he cries, he picks up the local radio station or police intercom, whichever is nearer. They couldn’t risk the kid making a sound at not wanting to be fed.

3. They actually ARE mime performers hired by the shopping centre. A travelling one.

4. There’s no milk in there. It’s one of those bottles that fake the liquid disappearing. The kid hates this joke his parents play on him, but he’ll go along with it since he gets the cartoon.

5. It’s a reality advertisement for iPad.

6. This is one of those hidden camera Gotcha! kinda thing and I’ll be famous real soon. Anytime soon. Sooner than this blog will make me, dang it!

7. The store thinks I’m a celebrity, or a shoplifter, and the two adults are plainclothes security staff ready to protect me or pounce on me. The baby is a robot (see Number 2).

8. They are after my latest culinary discovery, Furikake French Toast and here’s the simple oh-so-delicious recipe. Enjoy!

Furikake French Toast

It smells Incredibly tempting
2 slices white bread, cut into 8 triangles
2 small eggs, beaten
1 tbsp, or more, Furikake (I use the Mishima brand; see last pic)
Chopped cilantro, optional
White pepper, to taste
Dash of sesame oil

Heat up a non-stick pan.
Mix all the ingredients, except the white bread.
Dip and thoroughly coat a triangle of bread into the egg mixture.
Fry both sides of the bread till egg is cooked.
Repeat for all the triangles of bread.
Serve hot.

Quick & Easy Snack

Friday, 6 February 2015

Unpredictable Mixture...

I heard sizzling & saw a stream of smoke billowing by me. Someone had walked past carrying a Fried Saba on a Hotplate. I closed my eyes in ecstasy; the saucy fragrance slowly enveloped my senses like some temptress executing a sultry pole dance. It was utterly tantalizing! I couldn’t resist.

I love trying new foods and Korean cuisine is one of those that I really like... now. It took quite a while, years actually, to find really great Korean cooking at a reasonable price. The first time I ate kimchee (with a bland soup & rice) in a food court made me wonder how much salt exists in the Korean diet. It was that heavily salted, really bad...

I didn’t touch anymore of this foreign food for over 5 years. Then came the smoky Saba temptress. I ordered in a flash. The mackerel had shiny skin like a polished jewel. It is one of those times you can’t wait to sink your teeth in. It was fantastic and I quickly caught up with lost time by ordering it every chance I got.

The kimchee, on the other hand, was still as crazy salty as 5 years before. Thank goodness they usually give just a few slices. It didn’t put me off eating the fish though. I happily ate it for all it’s worth, but ignored the kimchee again.

One day, the adventurous side of me decided to point at the ‘Beebimbap’ on the wall menu. I cradled the bowl to my table & enthusiastically mixed it up.

Bad choice! It was all cold ingredients and tasteless. The sauce and vegetables had no taste. The fried egg had no taste (is this even possible?). Fortunately, the rice had ‘rice’ taste. I slapped my hand to my forehead when I realised that I had just bought the most expensive bowl of plain rice in my entire life.

I ran back to the Fried Saba and stayed faithful for another long stretch of time, safe in my smoky comfort zone. All hunky-Dory Fish, well mackerel actually.

However, stuck not so deep in my subconscious, I couldn’t shake off the nagging fact that kimchee is Korea’s National Dish. I also keep seeing Beebimbap popping up happily everywhere in my KBS drama serials.

It finally turned around.

I just had to give Beebimbap another chance after seeing this elderly gentleman earnestly tossing & mixing it up, at my first visit to the new Kopitiam food court in Suntec City. He took one spoonful and as he chewed, he shook his head with a ‘Praise-the-Lord-for-this-Dish’ expression.

I couldn’t argue the look on his face. I don’t think he paid with an Amex card, but it was Priceless.

I ordered and in a flash, it was ready. The egg yolk was raw & stood on top in the middle of the bowl, looking at me with a cute custard wobble. I swirled it into the sauce below. The rest of the mixing came carefully with me singing a little prayer in my head hoping I didn’t waste my lunch money.

I picked up a full rounded spoonful of this ‘unpredictable mixture’... looked ok; smelled ok. I chewed... slowly.

The euphoria came like a desperate bowling strike in very slow motion. Incredible is the mildest word I can think of, to describe the layers of supreme flavors that excited my tastebuds all at once. I tasted savoury egg, fragrant sesame oil, prickly chilli, uber fresh veggies, warm pepper, cool cucumber and such delicious rice! I certainly got much more value than what I paid. It is an authentic Beebimbap.

I asked the nice staff for the name of the company. It’s called ‘Han Ga Wi’. I dived in to the rest of the menu.

Oh Kimchee! What sensational soups they whipped up & they cook the Ultimately hands-down juiciest BEST Fried Saba I have ever greedily gobbled up! Just look at it! Isn’t it Gorgeous?

Click this photo for a better view
The top prize is the kimchee. It is the undisputed stand-alone Most savoury, delicious & well-marinated napa cabbage EVER! You will thank me for it! I requested for a nice pile and they kindly obliged, as you can see.

I confidently say to you – Don’t ever give up looking for Great Cooking. It may take awhile, and some experimenting, but you don’t want to miss these confetti events.

Food is a Journey. It will take you further than you ever thought you would travel, to cultures you will welcome with joy.

Food is a Love Story. It’s like an emotional meeting with a long lost love after years of searching, finally finding each other’s embrace and growing old together.

Food is Life. Mine and Yours.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

not entirely my fault...

(Best not to read this while you’re eating. Come back when you’re done, ok?)

One thing I wish they’d stop is the abstract arty restroom signs for restaurants & malls. I have absolutely no time to analyze any of it!

There I am, legs crossed, trying to figure out which is my loo. Recognisable images don’t help much either. Is it the sun or the moon, beer mug or tall glass, fried egg or hard-boiled egg? 

Tough choice silhouettes make me go eenie-meanie-miney-mo. Is mine the spider’s web or blackbird’s nest, eagle or humming bird (which also looks like a landing hawk... ).

Thank God I know how different the lion & lioness look like! I also got scooter & motorbike correct, by the way.

As it happens to everyone, I did walk into the wrong loo a few times by accident. If this has not happened to you yet, just wait.

1st time

I got as far as soaping my hands when these two gentlemen walked in.

One shrieked like a girl (split second I thought he was one), while the other immediately U-turned to check the sign at the entrance. Still not realising that I was in the Gent’s, I frowned and shouted, “Hey, get out!”

The ‘girl’ pointed his index finger at me and proclaimed, “YOU Get Out!”

I didn’t get to finish soaping my hands and I don’t go to that mall anymore...

2nd time

I feel this time it’s not entirely my fault. The mall made both the entrances directly opposite each other along a rather narrow corridor.

The hand dryer was out of order in mine and I saw another just four steps into the room opposite. Thinking it’s the diaper changing one for babies, I casually went in and started to dry my hands, all the while facing the noisy machine.

I sensed someone walk out briskly behind me. I heard someone else clear the throat, then a cough. There was a flush and murmuring. There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned around. This time I was the one who shrieked.

I apologised profusedly blaming the mall’s lousy floor planning. They told me to ‘Please stop talking. Just Go Out!’

I ran out.

3rd time

On an overseas trip, I walked out of the Ladies’ and while trying to find my way to the hotel lobby, I wandered into what looked like a lounge (hey, there were flowers ok!), but turned out to be the swanky Gent’s.

Noticing the BOSS colognes, different fixtures, and from past experience, I got that Titanic-sinking feeling that I was in the wrong place... again. I turned to rush out, but came face to face with the Chef Concierge. Shriek!

He kindly directed me to the exit after jokingly lecturing me to not be so curious about how the men’s loos in other countries look like & that it's not part of the hotel tour. I think he must've blabbed/blogged about me cos after that, the other staff seemed somewhat amused whenever I approached them for sightseeing directions.

So there you have it – not a pretty part of my life, but true. I certainly don’t plan these things (who does?) even when I’m bored. I much prefer to cook or bake in the quiet comfort of my kitchen – it’s quite shriek-free there.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

I’ll get even... Just you Wait!

Is your new year getting off to a great start?

Did you look back and smile with ‘What a lovely, happy year I had’ or did you yell ‘Damn you, 2014! I’ll get even... Just you Wait!’

I’m somewhere in the middle. Sort of like ‘What the... ? Hey, I’m not finished yet!’
So many fabulous things I wanted to happen to me that didn’t last year.

I wish 2014 had given me:

1. A New Talent.
Singing would be nice or maybe being able to read people’s minds and telepathically reply. That’s kinda creepy, I know, but helluva lot of FUN, doncha think?

2. Better Hair.
I think that crazy teenage perm of mine has forever damaged all my strands. Shucks! (kicks dirt)

3. That uncanny dexterity to text with both thumbs at super speed.
How come they never make a mistake or maybe they’re autocorrect-proof?

4. The courage to skateboard, rollerblade & bungee jump!
Ok, maybe not bungee jump cos that’s just plain stupid... I mean scary... no wait, I mean stupid AND scary! Yep, that’s it!

5. Big Lottery Winnings. Do I really need to explain this?

6. Teleporting Power.
I’ve SO wanted this ever since I saw it on Star Trek! Useful for when I’m stuck in traffic, or in the wrong loo (funny & curse-worthy story this is – tell ya about it next week).

7. A Green Thumb.
I have corridor space for nature, but no skills whatsoever with plants. Repotting anything equals certain death. None survive more than coupla months before they pack up & ‘leaf’ for good.

8. A Supermodel Face & Body – Please! Do I really, Really need to explain this, too?

Tell you what, I’ll explain how to cook a really delicious, healthy fish dish instead.

I present the wonderfully famous ‘Teochew Steamed Fish’. It is incredible slurpy goodness & you finally get to solve the puzzle of how to use those odd metal tongs you bought!

Teochew Steamed Fish – White Pomfret

Important Notes
• Fish MUST be fresh, not frozen, as it is going to be steamed.
• Your steamer MUST be Hot before putting in the fish!
• Your steamer must not be too hot or the outside of the fish will overcook; it should be a steady steam, not gushing steam.

• The fish is generally cooked once the eye turns white & pops out a bit, but you can cut & check the flesh near the bone, to make sure.

• This dish must be served Hot. Try & turn the fish quickly (but carefully) once out of the steamer.

1 Fresh White Pomfret – gut & rinse, then score as shown in photo.
1 or 2 salted plums - mash & remove seed
Spring onions - cut into 5cm strips, incl thick white part
Cilantro - cut into 1 cm strips, some long sprigs for garnish
Kiam chye - sliced ½ cm thick (aka salted mustard green)
Red chillies - slice into strips
Tomato - slice into 8 segments
Ginger - slice into strips, some into flat rounds
Light soy sauce
Sesame Oil
White pepper
Msg, optional

Start your steamer.
Stuff the fish scores with ginger strips, stuff the gut area with ginger rounds.
In a steaming plate, place the thick parts of the spring onions around the middle, slightly apart.
Distribute most of the cut ingredients around it.
Place the fish on top.
Spread the rest of the ingredients around the fish (not on the fish, except the cilantro).
In a small bowl, mix some water, dash of sesame oil, light soy sauce, white pepper and msg (the amount should more or less come up to touch the bottom half of the fish).
Pour over the fish.
Steam for about 15 mins. Check to see fish is cooked.
Once cooked, remove from steamer using tongs (see photo).
Carefully turn the fish over, for the top side to now absorb the stock, while you eat the already soaked side.
Garnish with cilantro sprigs & Serve Hot!

Use these metal tongs to easily raise hot plates out of the steamer.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

one small Horrible thing...

My mom ruled my crown of glory till I started working. Did yours?

I just went along with whatever hair-raising styles she chose. I didn’t want to chance losing dinner by protesting - this wonderlady mama of mine cooks the best food ever!

My china doll haircut - looks so adorable on most kids, but somehow it failed to take off for me. I blame it on Slim Whitman’s ‘China Doll’ song that was a favorite of mom’s back then. That and also my lack of cute cheekbones combined with uncute small eyes – you really need Bambi peepers to support such a demanding frame.

My mini eyes happened around the era of ‘Not double eyelid, Not Big, Not Nice!’ for girls. Tons of magazines pumped up this belief by featuring doe-eyed models & movie stars as Supreme Goddesses of Beauty.

At birthday phototakings, mom would be behind the photographer, both hands doing a ‘twinkle, twinkle little star’ action and earnestly shouting ‘make your eyes bigger, Bigger’ at me. I’d intensely widen my eyes, even raising my brows as high as I could.

This gave every one of my pics a stunned, glaring expression. Luckily, being too busy taking instructions from my director mother, I didn’t smile into the camera. If not, I imagine I’d have ended up looking like Nicholson’s maniacal best in ‘The Shining’.

Then mom decided that I’d look really sweet with long ponytails swishing on either side of my head. She tied them so tight I swear they pulled my slitty eyes narrower. I couldn’t feel my head till she removed the rubber bands after school. That sudden gush of relief was one of the highlights of my day.

However, I really missed my ponytail episodes when, at 14, mom announced that (gasp) I should cut my hair ‘short, short’ to make it ‘easy, easy’ for me. I nearly fainted.

I was mistaken for a boy three times, twice in the ladies loo. I began to daydream of mass printing 365 T-shirts that read something like ‘The Person in this T-shirt is a GIRL!’ or ‘If you think I’m a male, you’re Dead Meat!’

Tugging at my hair before sleeping in the hope that it would grow faster and magically transform into gorgeously long, blonde Rapunzel locks by morning just made me giddy with headaches. This was as good as shaving me bald.

I sulked at my short hair all the way through secondary school right up to two years of co-ed junior college, where I had my very first BIG crush. It was Cruel – he thought I was a boy...

I was too infatuated to call him cock-eyed, so I got up from behind my desk, composed myself and casually said that it’s a common mistake because I am... er... 'tall for a girl'.

He kept a distance. I adored from afar. Nothing else to report.

No, wait... there is one small, horrible thing to report.

The Friday before the final two days, I was still hoping to stir up a little attraction. You know, maybe then he’ll ask for my number, I get my fairytale wedding, Veneno & we’d live jet-settingly happily ever after.

Right after classes, without telling mom, armed with a doe-eyed magazine, and my overgrown pixie hair, I went straight to the hairdresser’s and asked for the first perm of my life - an exact one that was featured on page 21. The model looked absolutely Gorgeous!

Five hours later, my hair looked absolutely Grotesque! Every strand turned out like a tight spring stretched out. In short, my crowning glory was a black candy floss. I was too shocked to cry.

They had kept saying how thick my hair was and how ‘difficult’ it was for the lotion to work, all the while dabbing more & more of it onto the thin curlers. Once the horror was revealed, they sweetly said they weren’t going to charge me for the extra dabbings. I paid. I walked home. People stared.

I locked myself in the bedroom immediately. Mom knocked gently and asked if I was sick. I didn’t answer. She shouted & banged loudly. I opened the door...

At this point, I want to take the opportunity to say that no matter what, our moms are the superheroes in our lives. Mine certainly is.

She can sense at Mach speed that something’s wrong with her china doll baby (me!) - it’s as if she developed some sort of high level Lucy* ESP during those months of my foetal accomodation. Moms also vow eternal love regardless of how much we screw up our studies, work and life, but most of all, they jump in to rescue you from that crucial worst hair day. Mine certainly did.

She marched me back to the salon after a comforting cup of tea and a reassuring talk. The hairdresser straightened out as much as she could; the stubborn wiry perm became shiny thick waves, very similar to that of a Yorkshire Terrier.

Still not desirable, I know, but given the choice, it was much better than the candy floss... and given the choice again, I really didn’t want to go back to school on Monday with this fur on my head, but I did. I had to. I promised my mom not to chicken out the moment we left the shop – I was high on gratitude and did it without thinking.

Did he notice me? I’ll never know, because I never got to see him at all. Maybe he decided to skip the last two days. Maybe he took one look, shuddered & ran off in terror staying hidden till the end. No Biggie. I got something better.

I got to understand that I shouldn’t charge at things when inexperienced. I got to realise that it’s wrong to do sneaky stuff behind someone’s back. I got to kick myself for promising too fast. I got to painfully swallow my self-centred, youthful, tough-as-nails pride, and for the first time ever, say ‘Sorry’ followed by ‘Please help me’.

Above all else, I got to know that my mom has super powers and that she’ll still love this daughter even though she sported a shiny doggie perm to impress a teenage crush.

* that cool movie starring Scarlett Johansson

p/s: Next week, I'll sneak in a recipe. Promise!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Rocks, dozen it?

It’s Christmas - it’s not about the super presents, grand feasts or how many ‘Likes’ you’re gonna get when you post them online (there were none of these when Christ was born).

It’s Christmas - It’s his Birth Day.

I don’t think there is anyone in the world’s history whose special day is celebrated for over two thousand years by this many people in numerous countries with so much food, decorations and merriment, sometimes for all 12 days in a row. I had a colleague who actually did this – no kidding!

But hmmm... what if I HAD to celebrate a dozen days of Christmas?

Here’s my version:

1.     Christmas Day - open presents, eat the chocolate ones, sigh at yet another recycled photo album gift (toss into ‘album pile’ at back of storeroom), open a few mixed nuts with the nutcracker, carry on munching...

2.    Swap presents with visiting cousins, especially if mine are Ferrero Rochers... again! (but make sure I didn’t eat any from this box yesterday).

3.    Zoom that beeline to Orchard Road, gawk at the winner’s decorations* and walk down the stretch for post-X’mas sales (rub hands while grinning in anticipation).

4.    Try to finish up the 2kg roast leg of lamb, as breakfast wraps, lunch casserole, dinner pasta & soup supper. Wait, that doesn’t count as celebrating... um... I’ll get this one at the end, right after Number 12.

5.    Play games all day on my PC – only the Christmas editions, of course!

6.    Watch movies all day on my PC – only the Christmas features, of course!

7.    New Year’s Eve – keep the spirit & sing carols, interspersed with practicing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ for midnight. Move that leg of lamb down from the freezer to defrost.

8.    New Year’s Day - celebrate with delicious lamb wraps for breakfast, lamb casserole for lunch, pasta... you get the picture. Extras nicely packed in the fridge, please.

9.    1st day back at school - gift my neighbours the goodies from Number 8; their kids get most of the Rochers my cousins didn’t want to swap with me. Smiles all round!

10.     Play cards using the mixed nuts for money – walnuts count as $10, pecans $5, etc and you can snack on them, too... no hard & fast rules here.

11.     Bake cookies to round up the festive season!
Actually, these are for Chinese New Year since it usually happens pretty close to this date. I just make sure not to decorate them like Santa or anything Christmassy.

12.     Take lotsa pics of the tree with decorations intact & post it on ebay with the title ‘Fully decorated 6-ft tree. Free Ferrero Rocher+mixed nuts goodie bag included’.
It’s one heckuva celebration for me if someone buys, doncha think?

13.     (aka Number 4) Have a laugh by reading my past 22 publications in this blog – hey! You should celebrate and do that, too!

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas that Rocks! Cheers!

*There exists for over a decade here in Singapore, a Christmas contest for the Best Dressed Mall. It started as an expensive contest costing the shopping centres to spend close to a million dollars when it was first launched – yeah, the craving to win was That bad! Expenditure has since calmed down when it was realized that winning doesn’t guarantee a major boost to the businesses there. Plus, contradictory public opinions on ‘how come this expensive, but awful-looking one won?’

Thursday, 18 December 2014

I own a Lamborghini

I was exploring the cold meats section at Cold Storage* (actually I was trying to see what’s on offer), when this 20-something tall, handsome, just-walked-out-of-a-hunk’s-magazine guy came up and stood RIGHT next to me.

I sighed and thought to myself, “Geez, how come I never got to date anyone like this when I was 20?”

Then his eye-popping, hot, hot FHM babe of a girlfriend joined him and I realized, “ Ohhhhh... it’s becuz I didn’t look like That!’

Some things just pair up perfectly, I guess, like Macaroni & Cheese.
It’s not spaghetti & cheese, or kuay teow & cheese... it’s gotta be Mac & Cheese!
And no, today’s dish is not Mac & Cheese, although it is one of my weak-in-da-knees favorites ever!

Just hang in there, keep reading – I’ll get to it.

So back to this gorgeous pair of people, they’ve got looks, they shop & probably cook together. I’ll bet the dishes turn out fabulous, too!

They drive a Ferrari (a red one!), big condominium, luxury furnishings, own two speedboats, attend (and win) the Academy Awards, make their first Billion, buy an island, buy a football team, run for presidency, ditch the Ferrari for a couple of Lamborghini Venenos, buy another football team, and... PLOP!

My daydream bubble was rudely punctured by the deli staff lady who slapped my 200g packet of picnic ham onto the counter, smiled at me and said,”Please pay at cashier. Thank kew.”

I wanted to stay and see what 'Cold Meat Couple' was going to buy, but decided that it’d be more fun to just come home and rant, I mean, write about it in my blog, in my comfort zone where I can be with the Veneno that I Do own.

It’s a 1:64 size diecast (see last pics) and although I probably will never get to sit in a real one, I can dream about it as I slowly enjoy the dish for today – Shepherd’s Pie... (hah! You thought it was going to be something with the picnic ham, didn’tcha?).

Shepherd’s Pie is that Ultimate match made in Heaven! Silky-smooth mashed potato flirting with that savoury, juicy lamb. If you ask me, I really think it pairs up far, far better than a hot couple looking for cold cuts, well almost...

*Cold Storage – a supermarket chain in Singapore

Shepherd's Pie

5 medium waxy potatoes (or any kind you like)
Salted butter
Fresh milk

Boil potatoes in salted water, peel when still hot*.

Mash with butter, pepper & milk, to taste. Set aside.

*so much easier to mash when hot

Lamb filling
300 g cold minced lamb - some cut into thin strips.
One large onion, chopped or sliced
Carrots & Peas frozen mix, lightly cooked (warmed)
Cornstarch, for thickening
Worcestershire sauce
Water, 2 to 3 tablespoons

(If you like, you can add some dried mixed herbs after sauteing the onions)

On medium heat, saute one large chopped onion, add lamb, fry till lightly cooked.

Add water, salt, pepper, generous splash of Worcestershire sauce. Fry.

Taste and must adjust seasonings here. Add more water, if needed.

Lower the heat a little.

Add carrots & peas. Fry a bit.

Thicken sauce with cornstarch (mix some pan sauce to the cornstarch and pour in while stirring)

Serving Suggestions

a) Half fill a personal bowl with the lamb mixture. Cover with the mashed potato. Start eating!

b) Use an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle grated cheese over the potato & bake (or grill) till cheese melts.

c) Make this in advance (like I did). Freeze, or keep in fridge if eating soon. To serve, cover & reheat in oven till bubbly hot.

Lamborghini Veneno by Hot Wheels 1:64 (First Edition)
Rear View

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Singing Pierogi!

Are you proud of the National Dish of your country?

The National Dish of Singapore is Chicken Rice. A close second is Chilli Crab. Have you tried them?

Both are lip-smacking Good, just like all the National Dishes of the world. I’ve never tried cooking them simply because both are easily available with reasonable prices all over the island.

In case you didn’t know, Singapore is an island; not a state, not a desert, not atop a mountain & certainly not a chance you will go hungry with all the many, many food places per square foot here.

Curious me decided to start a ‘National Dish Hunt’, so every now & then you’ll see posts like these in future.

We have apple pie from the US, pierogi from Poland, poutines of Canada, Korean bulgogi, sauerbraten in Germany, the list goes deliciously on. I’ve tried all the National Dishes mentioned, except for one – pierogi.

I notice that most national dishes are inexpensive, not gourmet and quite the humble food close to the hearts of the people. It sounds like the dish you grew up with, ate as a family, chatting away at the dinner table. This is the food mom cooked often - whether it turns out tasty or not, really doesn’t matter because it’s all about the sitting down together. Not to forget mom’s rule of ‘If you don’t eat it, ya Don’t Eat!’ Period.

So back to pierogi. I read about this dish on Wikipedia and unlike Chicken Rice, there are many variations on the filling alone - there’s even sweet pierogi filled with fruits & sour cream. My mouth watered at the savoury one with bacon. Yum!

There are savoury, salty and sweet versions of pierogi baked, fried or dunked in clear borscht with fillings galore enjoyed in Russia, Hungary, America, Canada, Germany, Ukraine & Romania.

Enough of just the written word, I decided to hunt for this dumpling and found a little retro place right here in Singapore serving pierogi for lunch and dinner as a starter at 6 bucks each! The best thing is that it comes with (you guessed it!) Bacon!

Off I trooped to the cafe with my dollar notes and after ordering, I sat at a cosy corner, gazing at the charming nostalgic decor. The ambience really warms my heart; reminds me so much of my kampong days when I was a cute little talkative kid (see ‘Something Sweet, Something Sour... ’) with my china doll haircut. The cutlery sat in a container next to a glass cup filled with sugar cubes.

While waiting, I stole a peek behind the counter and saw my little dumpling being checked for doneness (the metal noodle sieve was lightly shaken a few times in the steamy boiling water).

I got the fork & knife ready. My curiousity perked. My tummy growled. It seemed like forever before I was presented with THIS!

First of all, I felt it’s a teeny bit pricey at S$6 for just one pierog. Anyway, I took a few shots with the phone camera, cut it in half and snapped some more.

I proceeded to Go for it! with my fork, and the result... ?

Święty Jacek z pierogami*! How come I didn’t discover this earlier?

It’s one of the most wholesome comfort foods ever! The dough smoothly & playfully slid around in my mouth, dancing with the sour cream. The potato filling oozed with warmth & made me smile. The fragrant pickled onions perked up every bite. Amazing flavors rushed out!

What about the bacon topping? Well, it was the harmonious part of the whole combination. It brought everything together like an orchestra hitting the much-awaited chorus of an opera. It serenaded to me a welcome message that reads ‘With Love from Poland’. I sang along.

I now understand how happy Polish people are of their National Dish and Rightly so! I’ll certainly be chomping on these dumplings again & again.

Will I try making these myself? Maybe someday. For now, the one pierog I had is reminding me of those happy childhood gatherings & sunny days.

Pierogi is Family.

*'Święty Jacek z pierogami!' translates to 'St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!'.
This is an old Polish expression of surprise, roughly equivalent to ‘Holy Smokes!’
(source: Wikipedia)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Happened to me Twice!

Let’s just chat today.

So how much do you know about Roasting, Toasting food? Ya know, something like a barbeque party by the beach, cool breezy evening with light calypso music and soft lighting, that sorta thing.

You’ve never had anything get charred? Oh lucky you! You are in for a treat when that happens! Especially when your guests start to arrive and first thing they ask is “What’s that smell? Is everything okay?”

Honestly, that only happened to me twice – simply because I held a BBQ just the two times in my life. I fell asleep waiting for the meat to cook and I burned all 25 of the chicken wings I was in charge of grilling. There’s something about how you have to keep it on a low heat to make sure it turns out nice & juicy, that is so yawning. It’s like watching a boring movie to me, I guess.

On the other hand, lots of people love firing up their barbeques with great enthusiasm, especially in America. I salute this passion.

I seriously think meat gets a better deal when grilled in the US. The care involved & special/secret marinades means juicy foods fly hot off the grill with a smile and a friendly ‘Peace’ finger sign. I’m pretty sure the marinated chops & steaks just flip themselves over when they’re ready.

Meanwhile in Singapore, I’ve attended too many East Coast Park birthday picnics and condo-warming pool parties that failed miserably on the barbie (including my own). Is it possible to transform fresh & perfectly marinated chicken wings into dry, tough, salty meat? Yes, in Singapore, you can!

Worst thing is, East Coast Park being by the beach means the sea air, which makes me hungry, which means I am ravenous by the time I reach the barbecue pit & having to smile when you’re starving is just using up too much energy, but I do it because I so wanna EAT! and I end up eating... brined leather?

To counter this, I’ve taken to secretly having pre-BBQ meals (aka a full dinner, folks) at home or on the way there. Success rate is 100% and I happily enjoy the event with my favorite F & N Ice Cream Soda drink and a slice of the birthday cake.

Another foolproof way is to offer an easy dish as the gift. The host is always happy to hear I’m bringing 10 servings of spaghetti bolognaise - of which plate Number One is mine, of course. From experience, I notice that the rest of it tends to disappear really fast.

I make the sauce & pasta in advance, pack them separately in microwaveable containers, zap them on the way out, mix it up on location & plonk a big helping for myself.

It’s also worked wonders! I met a ‘stranger’ at another party who recognized me & knew my name. I couldn’t recall anything about her at all. She then told me that we never spoke at the busy party back then, but she distinctly remembered me for the delicious spaghetti I made and expressed how she loved it so very, very much. Amazing - my sell-out spaghetti was the highlight for this lady... at a barbecue?! 

Well, you can’t really blame her. She’s much older than me and probably suffered more difficult BBQs than I ever did. I’m just happy to have helped her out & to know that someone other than I had a good time that evening.

If you’re going to a similar party soon, I sincerely wish you fun, laughter & lots of spaghetti waiting for you there. Bye for now!

Sneak Peek
: An interesting review will be up next week.
Clue: It’s from Poland.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Come Avo Walk with Me!

STOP RIGHT THERE! Click & Read this first: ‘Avo Maria’. I’ll bring you back here.

Okay, continuing from my ‘Avo Maria’ publication, here are the results of my 3 avocados over 3 days covering the 11 ways I ate them. It took 3 days as the trio I bought ripened at different times.

I am most lucky that a kind Australian lady member of my FB food group taught me how to check for ripeness by applying gentle thumb pressure on the stem end. Works like a charm!

The Challenger
Do you remember how scary it was the very first time you jumped down from a height that you weren’t sure of at all? That’s exactly how the first avocado looked like to me. I decided to have a chat with it first. I named it ‘Hank Hass’.

Me: I’m not sure you’re good & ready...

Hank: Hey, you did the thumb test – you Know I’m ready, Missy!

Me: Have you heard about my aversion to... you?

Hank: C’mon, stop wasting time. I’m ripening more as we speak!

Me: Thing is, it’s been years since I ate one and...

Hank: Yada Yada Yada... Boo Hoo Hoo! So you’re the only one with discomfort? I’ve been sitting in that cold fridge of yours for two days next to a bunch of noisy apples who just won’t stop yakking away! Geez!

Me: Ok, I’m real sorry about that, but I think I’ll have to put you back in there till I’m ready.

Hank: No way, José! Nuh-uh! I ain’t going back to Yakkety-Yak Town. You bought me, now Eat Me or else... so help me God!

Threatened by a ripe avocado, I proceeded to the first step of cutting it open and scooping out a teaspoonful. I closed my eyes, blanked out my mind, bravely opened my mouth and chewed.

I passed out IMMEDIATELY – nah, just kidding!

It was really Super, all that buttery & nutty flavor (the Biggest Surprise of All is revealed in the very last pic!). I eagerly moved on to the recommendations shown below. Come avo walk with me.

Avo 1

Mashed avocado with lime & salt – a pure beauty, then with lemon, salt & pepper – it pops!
On toasted bread rubbed with raw garlic – I love this; I wanted more!
Pomengranate, grapes & pear – Very Tasty & Refreshing!
(pears got a little brown while I was busy chatting with Hank)
I extracted the pomengranate juice to drizzle over the fruit version above.
Chopped cilantro, onions, chillies, tomato & lemon juice - to mix with the mashed avocado.
On toasted bread – a Feast of Flavors!
My tortilla chips have never been happier!
Piquete (Colombian) on boiled potatoes - Delicious Comfort Food!
Avo 2

Tuna sandwich (aka ‘Tunacado’) with chopped dill pickle, onions & red chillies.
Mashed avocado replaces mayo beautifully!
Savoury Taco/ Wraps - Absolutely Sensational!
 Avo 3

HLAT – Brings it all together Harmoniously!
(I had ham to finish so I substituted the bacon).
Easy to zap the small trial amount with my immersion blender for the smoothie.

Smoothie – the undisputed Best Surprise!
The Avocado Blooms Magnificently in this Cool Dessert!

I confirm that I am absolutely cured from my past experience and so pleasantly surprised that this fruit is super versatile with other foods as you have seen. I mean, who’d thought combining it with tuna or zapping it into a smoothie would bring smiles & cravings to this Singaporean?

I’d like to write more, but hey, I have years of avocado goodness to catch up with, so bye!

Acknowledgements: My sincere thanks to Michele Mai, George Hanus, Meike Hubert, Susan Cohen, Erin Crisman, Barbara Llorente, Linda Nightwood, Maree Reynolds, Shelby Jones, Evangeline Payawal & Christiam Guzmán for your kind support & recommendations. I am for-avo grateful.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Throw it NOW!

I made two sugar mistakes in the kitchen. Here’s the first one.

I accidentally grabbed salt for sugar and ended up putting the wrong amounts of each into my garam asam gravy! Dang! Dinner was to be served in forty minutes to my in-laws. I had two options.

One – call Pizza Hut, McDonald’s & KFC. Two – call my husband to the kitchen. As my traditional in-laws are not keen on fast food, I chose Option Two.

Crisis was averted after we miraculously managed to adjust the dish by discarding half of the gravy & adding fresh blended onions, etc. Phew... ! The moment dinner was over, I immediately labelled the salt & sugar containers (Yeah, Yeah, I didn’t before... so sue me!)

Here’s Sugar Boo-Boo Number 2... or so I thought.

I doubled a chocolate cupcake recipe, but Somehow (God only knows how!) I ended up doubling the doubled sugar amount or something. Oh Lord! What a shocker... !

Each cupcake overflowed the muffin tin and when cooled, every single one came out looking like a crater because the center caved in. They were hard & brittle.

The big one in the pan flopped out thick, sticky & gooey like this. Looks like a Sugar Battlefield, doesn’t it?

99% of me screamed Throw it, Throw it, THROW it NOW! I listened to my 1% and offered them to my young nephews.

Whoa! Wouldcha believe it? They loved it – a LOT! Way to go, Silver Lining!

The different textures & sweetness of my ‘failure’ turned out to be a winning snack, somewhere along the lines of toffee-meets-fudge-in-a-cake kinda thing. I can’t replicate it though, as I’m not too sure what I did right or wrong... but today’s recipe of a *simple potato dish turns out wonderful every time. Makes for a great side dish or just delicious on its own!

I love it for the simplicity and awesome taste, plus the oh! so few ingredients, and it Doesn’t have a grain of sugar, folks, so we’re safe.

*I figure I’d pop in something easy since you had to read my long Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee recipe from my previous post.

Ham & Garlic Potatoes

2 medium waxy potatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Some sliced ham*
Some chicken stock
Salted butter*, for dotting
Cheese of your choice, shredded (optional)
(*If you prefer pancetta or bacon, use unsalted/sweet butter)

Wash & peel the waxy potatoes.

Using a knife, slice them thinly (not too thin, don’t use a mandolin)

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F)

In an oven-proof dish, pour a bit of the chicken stock to just cover the bottom.

Layer with potato, then garlic, dot with butter, potato again, then ham. Repeat.

Finish with a layer of potato. Pour some chicken stock over it.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 mins to 1 hour (depends on the size of your dish).

Uncover and top with shredded cheese, if using. Grill till cheese melts.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Did & Did Not!

Gosh! Doesn’t time zoom by so much faster as an adult? Suddenly it’s November, and you are still in April mood. How did I get to here? What did I do in those months between? Where did all my money go... ?

I do, however, know what i didn’t do! I did NOT:
  • Win the lottery.
  • Receive the Nobel Literature Prize for this blog... yet.
  • Scam people at Sim Lim Square (just google ‘Sim Lim weeps’)
  • Kiss the kerb when it finally rained (dang Haze!).
  • Enjoy watching ‘Godzilla’ take his time to appear clearly on screen.

Oh wait... now I remember what i DID do! I certainly did:
  • Go out for the day without my phone & watch – FREEDOM!
  • Stain my T-shirt with laksa gravy again & again (some things never change!).
  • Re-edit & re-submit countless times to get my photos in foodgawker.
  • Try as hell to watch my diet, but failed with Old Chang Kee curry puffs.
  • Cook delicious Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee today
           ... and HERE’S THE RECIPE! (Surprised ya, didn't i?)

Yes, Yes, I know the recipe seems long & complicated, but it's really easy to do... c'mon, Be Adventurous! Let this be the thing you DID!

p/s: a really nice accompaniment to this slurpy dish is crispy Fried Wontons from my 'Krackle, Krispy, Ka-Runch' post with my wrapping demo videos (yes, it's me!). Have a look-see!

Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

I never really measure for this dish, so please just estimate the amounts not shown according to how much you’d like. This noodle dish has evolved to become very ‘gravy-heavy’ with stock.

You can add more of the yellow noodles than rice noodles - it's up to you.

Ingredients - 4 servings
Prawn Stock (see below)
500 g Prawns, heads removed to make the prawn stock
Squid, sliced, optional
Pork belly, skin removed, then sliced or cut into thick strips, optional
500 g thick rice noodles (aka ‘chor bee hoon’ – this is not vermicelli*)
500 g yellow noodles
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 eggs
Fresh red chillies, sliced (can also be served on the side, if you prefer)
Spring onions, cut 5 cm lengths
Bean sprouts, washed (roots removed, if you wish)
Light soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Limes, optional
Msg, optional
Deep-fried pork fat croutons, optional (pls check online for info)

* You can sub dried medium vermicelli (which is the original noodle used). Soak 1 hr to soften.

Prawn Stock, Prawns, Squid, Pork Belly
Remove prawn heads. Carefully pry apart & wash out the brown mush for each prawn.
Boil for stock (water 2cm above the heads).
After 40 mins, using a strainer, press the heads to extract any stock. Discard the heads.
Add dashes of fish sauce, pepper, salt (& msg, optional).
Taste & adjust. It should be like a tasty soup.
Simmer (don’t boil) the stock & lightly cook the prawns, squid & pork belly in it.
Keep this stock on a very low simmer, for frying the noodles later.

Noodles  (Do this just before frying: Use a plastic glove; noodles are oily)
In a shallow basin, add some water to only the thick rice noodles & loosen it.
Mix in the yellow noodles.
Using kitchen scissors, cut/divide into 4 portions.
Leave the glove on top of the noodles.

- to stir fry one serving (fry one or two servings at a time; don’t crowd your wok)

Heat some oil in a wok on medium heat. Fry one chopped garlic.
Using the glove, add 1 portion of mixed noodles & a bit of stock. Stir fry 10 secs.
Push noodles to one side. Tilt your wok to the empty side. Increase the heat a bit.
Add some oil & scramble an egg.
Mix with the noodles.
(If you like your bean sprouts soft, add & fry them here)
Push everything to one side. Lower the heat.
**Add 3 tbsp prawn stock, then 2 tsp oyster sauce,  ¼ tsp light soy sauce & dashes of msg.
Increase to medium heat.
Mix with the noodles well. Lower to medium heat.
Add spring onions, bean sprouts & sliced chillies. Mix & Cover 10 secs.
(Add more stock here if you like your noodles slurpy)
Add prawns, squid, pork belly & 3 or 4 croutons. Quickly mix in.
Serve with a cut lime.
Squeeze the lime on a fork, all over the noodles & mix.
Eat Immediately & Enjoy!

** You can prepare this sauce in advance in a small bowl before you start frying. Stir to combine. This is an estimated amount, as oyster sauces vary in saltiness – you can a bit more oyster sauce if you like, but it should not taste too much of it.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Avo Maria

Once upon a time I had one bite of a raw avocado and hated it so much I swore off it for life. It took all I could to keep from spitting it out!

Then I joined a US food group on Facebook (yes, I do have an account) and found that the avocado is a much loved fruit eaten in all sorts of ways! I asked the members for ideas to gently wean me towards consuming this God-awful difficult task of mine. The suggestions came tidal-wave rushing in. People are indeed very kind to help an avocado-deprived lot like me.

Mashed into dressings, tossed in salads, mixed with pilaf, as a herby pasta sauce, smoothies, salsas, in tuna salad or just paired with sliced strawberries! A good friend even provided a link pointing me to the many varieties. I was overwhelmed at the pure kindness of strangers! (ok, most were not really total strangers as I have been yakking with them for a coupla months now).

It’s not often available here in Singapore, but I am just RARING to go the moment I spy that deep green pear-shaped challenge! Think I’ll buy three and try out as many methods as I can. I'm praying for the best.

Life is so wonderful – just when I think there’s a lull in cooking (the same things), I suddenly now have this great obstacle to overcome. I must & will above all else attempt the suggested ideas... cos if not I’ll have to answer to about 15 people who took the time to type those comments!

So you’ve already guessed my trials will be explicitly detailed in a future post. Will I pass or fail the whole exam? Can a person win over a despised life experience?

Is avocado such a big deal that I have to be a cry baby about it? Can you bring yourself to overcome the foods You hate? Why the heck is there no recipe in this post? What do you think? Stay Tuned...

Update: The results are in! See 'Come Avo Walk with Me!'

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

... For Nothing!

Didcha sing today?

I always have a tune or two on auto rewind in my head. Yesterday it was 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits - love the electric intro... 'That's the way you do it... '

Today I was romatici-sing to Luis Miguel's 'Perfidia'. oh... you've not heard of him? Same here.
I stumbled across his 'Mis Boleros Favoritos' album years ago at a CD shop (yes, these are rare nowadays) that was playing it at full blast. I bought it on the spot!

He's got this stretchy swoony voice that makes me sway & daydream...

What does this have to do with cooking, you ask? Nothing really... it's just that I still can't get 'Money for Nothing' outta my head from yesterday & I need company. Bet you're now stuck with 'We gotta install microwave ovens, Custom kitchen deliveray-ies, We gotta move these refrigerators...'

Plus, you know you're itching to check out Luis on Youtube! Heh Heh Heh

Music makes Life a Party and one of my favorite party foods is Burgers! Lamb Burgers in particular! Love them! You should make burgers at home - SO very much cheaper... it's almost Burgers For Nothing! (You can also substitute the patty with spicy 'otak-otak' for a change)

Here's my recipe - promise me you'll make them this weekend... 'I want my, I want my MTV... '

p/s: Throw in my nice Ham & Garlic Potatoes (see 'Throw it NOW!') & it'll be a Super meal.

Lamb Burgers
Prepare the uncooked lamb patties 2 to 3 days in advance for best taste!

Slurpy Burgers are the BEST!

Lamb patties (recipe below)
Hamburger buns, medium size
Mayonnaise (i use Hellman's)
Chopped dill pickle
Sweet & sour chilli sauce [i use Lingham’s (regular)]
Black pepper, freshly grated
Tomatoes, sliced
Onions, sliced

Heat up a bit of olive oil in a stainless steel or cast iron frying pan on medium to high heat. Do not use a non-stick pan (patties turn out not so tasty).

Fry each patty for 1 to 2 mins on each side (depends on how you like your meat cooked).

When flipping over, make sure the spatula picks up the whole patty (or it may break up as no egg and only a small amount of breadcrumbs is used).

Rest the patty for 3 mins.

Place the cooked patty on the bottom half of a bun.

Serving suggestion: Layer in this order – mayonnaise, dill, chilli sauce, black pepper, tomato, onion, lettuce.

Put on the top ‘hat’ of the bun and Enjoy! :)

Lamb patties - makes 4 thin (or 2 med) patties.
Amounts are approximate; adjust to your taste

300 g minced lamb (with some fat)
1 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp Vintage cheddar cheese (or Parmesan), finely grated & kept in fridge till needed
¼ tsp white pepper
⅛ tsp salt
Update: Plonk & mix in about ¼ tsp of English mustard & ½ onion (chopped) – gets tastier!

Using a shallow bowl, spread out the minced lamb.

Layer evenly over the lamb in this order – Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, cheese.

Using a metal spoon, mix gently & thoroughly**(see below). Divide into 4.

Update: For a juicier burger, leave it as one big chunk and shape them before frying. Cover tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap.

Take one portion & shape into a round, flat patty (they will shrink when fried, so shape it bigger).

Cling wrap each patty and stack them up in a small, shallow bowl.

Cover the entire bowl with two layers of clingwrap (the idea here is to minimise moisture loss).

Leave to marinate in the fridge (front or middle area) for 2-3 days.

** Pan fry a small bit and adjust Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper, to taste.

Celebrate with Burgers!