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!