Monday, December 31, 2012

Summary of 2012

It's that time of the year for a summary of my year again.

I can't help thinking how quickly time seems to fly by.

I've blogged much less this year than I ever did over the last few years so I'm starting to write this post really early (It's 3 Dec now) so I have enough time to recall what happened over the year.

Chinese New Year 2012 was in January and hence, considered early. I caught a flu bug and didn't have much appetite over the CNY period which was a shame because of all the good food around. Then I went on a business trip to London right after the CNY holidays and didn't enjoy myself at all because of the cold (English weather!) and poor appetite.

We visited Ubud in Bali over my birthday in February and whilst I really enjoyed the place and the resort we stayed in, I can't say the same of Balinese food. The problem is not so much the food but my appetite, I think.

Villa Sarna, Ubud

I enjoyed the breakfast at the resort though, especially the little donuts

Well you see, I was expecting and hence the poor appetite. For the next four months, I hated almost all food and smells of food, which was a real experience for me since I always love eating. I ate mainly salads and fruits and avoided all strong smelling and oily food. And so I finally managed to lose the weight I couldn't lose even with a low carb diet in the last couple of months of 2011.

 Mainly salads and tasteless food for me from January to April..

In May, I got to go to Zurich for a week's training. The Husband joined me after that and we went travelling around Switzerland for 10 days. I really enjoyed this trip. Switzerland is a very stress free place to travel in - it's very safe, things run on time and English is widely spoken. By then my appetite also came back and I could enjoy food once again.

I also thought that it'd be a while again before The Husband and I would be able to travel on our own, so I really treasured the time together. The sights in Switzerland were every bit as beautiful as the postcards and pictures I've seen, and I was really glad to have done the trip. I'm looking forward to another trip to the Italian part of Switzerland in the future.. and hopefully, it's in the near future.

One thing about travelling this year - I didn't go Hong Kong at all! I think it's been a long time since I didn't go Hong Kong for an entire year!




After my trip in May, things started getting more hectic at work. I was also trying to finish off and handover some of my work before my maternity leave in September, so I was under quite a bit of pressure. Of course, I didn't manage to finish off any of the key issues at work, but I did hand over my work properly (I hope!) and then, suddenly, I was off work! I had almost 2 quiet weeks all to myself, during which I swam, read, ate things I liked and met up with some friends. All in all, the 9 months of being pregnant is a rather special time for me. Apart from the poor appetite initially, I was fortunate to be really healthy and well throughout and I don't believe I've got as much compliments in my life on how I looked thanks to the weight loss over the first four months.

 I drank lots of bubble tea over those 2 weeks..

And lots of coconut water, which supposedly gives your baby good skin..

Then 20 September came and Little N joined our family.

The first few days at home were very difficult. Then things started getting better.. But just as she turned full month, she started crying a lot. All in all, the first 7 weeks after she joined us was an emotional and somewhat scary time for me. Looking back, I don't think I've ever felt so inadequate and lost. There are times when I simply don't know what to do.

Taken in the delivery suite whilst waiting for Little N to join us.. 
I had a long labour and got very bored, so I started taking pictures..

Little N on the second day of her life

At about 8 weeks, Little N started to smile and coo and suddenly, things got a bit better. There are still times when I don't know what she wants and all that crying (more like screaming) still unsettles me, but things really are better, just like everyone around said they would be. There are still bad days of course but generally, she is getting to be lots of fun and things are settling down.

Little N is able to flip herself on her tummy now

My resolutions for 2012 were to eat healthily, change my lifestyle and enjoy life a little more heartily. I definitely ate more healthily and had a big lifestyle change this year because of Little N... so I should at least give myself a little pat on the back for that. *pat pat*

I have another month of maternity leave before I go back to work in the beginning of February. The 5 months of maternity leave seems to have really just flown by.

To be honest, I don't really know what 2013 will be like for me. Little N will be looked after by a nanny during the day and I hope that works out. With my long hours at work, I still don't know how we can bring her home in time for her last feed and for bed since she sleeps before 830pm.

Hence, I really need more wisdom and better time management skills in 2013! 2013 will definitely be a year of many "firsts" for me.

Have a happy holiday season and a great year ahead.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

3 Months

When Little N turned 3 months last week, I could barely believe 3 months have gone by! This means I'd be back at work in another few more weeks..

Would you believe that before Little N arrived, I thought of catching up on my reading, meeting up with friends and spending time with my nephew and nieces during my maternity leave?

I don't even have enough time to cook so we resort to mostly packing food back nowadays!

The 3 months have flown by!

She has grown really fast. Physically, she has put on 2.5kg and is now 10cm longer (she's a tall baby..).

She has grown from a tiny newborn that sleeps, drinks, poo and cries to a chubby 3 month old who can now do a lot more things. She can flip herself over on to her tummy, makes multiple attempts each day to sit up on her own and mumbles "ahhs", "ohhhs" and "goos"..

Every baby has their own unique personality and I like the way Tracy Hogg (in the book "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer") talks about the 5 different baby personality types. (See below for more details)

I think I definitely have a "Touchy" baby.. though what is described about baby not liking to be dressed/ changed under "Grumpy" baby certainly describes little N well.

But I noticed she is definitely a baby who prefers predictability. Outings and vaccinations seem to throw her off a lot. Hopefully, she'd adjust well once she starts going to the nanny in January and I start work in February.

I can't help feeling a little nervous and worried about the first few months of 2013.

I can turn myself over now..

Baby Personalities (source from here)

Angel babies are good as gold. They are mellow, eternally smiling, and consistently undemanding. Their cues are easy to read. They are not bothered by new surroundings and they are extremely portable. They feed, play, and sleep easily, and usually don’t cry when they wake up. They easily amuse themselves when they wake up in the morning. They can often calm themselves down. Even when they get overtired, it is easy to settle them down again.

Textbook babies are predictable and fairly easy to handle. They do everything on cue so there are usually few surprises with them. They reach all the milestones right on schedule – sleep through the night by three months, roll over by five, sit up by six. They’ll have growth spurts like clockwork. They can play on their own for short periods (about 15 minutes) as early as one week old. They’ll coo a lot and look around. They smile when someone smiles at them. Though they have normal cranky periods, they are easy to calm and it isn’t hard to get them to sleep either.

Touchy babies are ultra-sensitive. To them, the world is an endless array of sensory challenges. They flinch at the sound of a motorcycle revving outside their window, the TV blaring, a dog barking in the house next door. They blink or turn their heads away from bright lights. They sometimes cry for no apparent reason, even at their mothers. They often get fussy after a number of people have held them, or after outings. They’ll play on their own for a few minutes, but needs the reassurance that someone they know well is close by. They like to suck a lot and this cue may easily be misread for hunger. They nurse erratically, sometimes acting as though they have forgotten how. They have difficulty falling asleep during nap times or at night. They easily get off schedule – an extra-long nap, a skipped meal, an unexpected visitor, a trip, a change in formula, etc. can throw them out of the loop. To calm them, you have to recreate the womb – swaddle, snuggle them to your shoulder, whisper a rhythmic shushing sound close to their ear, and pat their back gently. The quicker you learn their cues and their cries, the simpler life is. They love structure and predictability.

Spirited babies emerge from the womb knowing what they like and don’t like and they never hesitate to let you know it. They are very vocal and even seem aggressive at times. They scream for Mum or Dad when they wake in the morning. They hate lying in their own pee or poop and will vocalise their discomfort. They babble a lot and loudly. Their body language tends to be a bit jerky. They often need swaddling to get to sleep because their flailing arms and legs keep them up and overstimulated. If they start crying and the cycle is not interrupted, they reach the point of no return. Their crying will lead to more crying until they reach a fever pitch of rage. They’ll also notice other babies before those babies notice them. They’ll grab at their bottle at an early age and as soon as they’re old enough to develop a good, firm grasp, they’ll grab other babies’ toys as well.

Grumpy babies act like they’ve been here before and they are not at all happy to be back. They’re mad at the world and they let you know it. They whimper every morning, don’t smile much during the day and fuss their way to sleep every night. Their mothers have a lot of trouble keeping baby-sitters. They hate baths at first and every time someone tries to change or dress them, they get fidgety and irritable. Feeding is difficult because of their cranky disposition. Calming grumpy babies takes a patient Mum or Dad because they get very angry and their cries are particularly loud and long. If they reach a major meltdown, gently sway them front to back.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Surprise

It's Christmas again.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year because it usually means public holidays and lots of leave. Everything around seems more cheery with all the decorations and jingles and people seem to be in a more jolly mood as well.

Christmas also has a special meaning to me because it's the day to remember that God came amongst us and lived and died to save us.

This year though, since I'm at home most of the time, I don't feel the festive mood.

But 2 dear friends sent through a big basket of red roses with poinsettia and pines as a surprise gift for me. This makes my house look "Christmasy" and really made my day. Aren't the flowers beautiful?

Merry Christmas to all and have a good holiday season with your loved ones.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Public Transport Fare Hikes

Our transport minister announced possible fare hikes for our public transportation system recently.

So.. No big deal, right? There is inflation and naturally there should be price hikes, no?

But 2012 has been a unique year for Singapore's public transportation system.

It was a year where our MRT (subway) system broke down several times and caused massive delays since the subway companies had no prior experience dealing with these break downs. A detailed investigation was done and it was concluded that $900M was required to rectify and remedy the faults in the subway lines. This cost was co-funded by the government, namely the Land Transport Authority (see source here)

It was a year where bus drivers went on strike. A first in Singapore across any industry since goodness-knows-when.

The public transportation system is mainly run by 2 listed companies - SMRT and SBS Transit.

SMRT and SBS Transit had profits of $119.9M and $36.7M respectively. According to the Workers' Party - this translates to a Return on Equity of 15.1% and 11.3% respectively. The median ROE for Singapore listed companies in comparison was 7.8% over the same period.

Now, something the transport minister said was very disturbing. Mr Lui Tuck Yew said that bus fares may have to go up in order to accommodate wage increases of bus drivers.

Now, I work in a bank and the banking industry is a competitive industry. Banks are always looking to hire good people and to do that, you often have to either provide more opportunities for those individuals, or simply pay more.

But when banks need to pay their employees more, do they increase their prices to their customers? Would a retail bank increase their mortgage interest rates so that they can "accomodate wage increases" of their branch staff? Would an investment bank increase its IPO fees so that they can pay their staff better?

I can understand why wages for bus drivers need to be increased.

However, there are many ways to do that though - you can cut down costs in other areas of operations, increase efficiency (for example, by having double decked bus instead of single decked buses), design more efficient and better bus routes (oh my, I don't want to go into this again).

Increasing bus fares to the public and using bus drivers wages is a very lame excuse for any profitable company. See this post on a separate blog for the writer's analysis of where the money is with SMRT.

And actually, why is this comment made by the Transport Minister, when the revenue of the fare increase would go straight into the 2 listed companies and not the Land Transport Authority? ( I also wonder why the Land Transport Authority would subsidise these 2 companies through things like co-funding of repair costs? It's like having the Monetary Authority of Singapore subsidizing ATMs network repairs for banks should there be a breakdown!)

There is something about our public transportation system that seems very wrong somewhere.

Singapore is not a big country. I really do believe that if left completely to the private sector, there will be real competition in this space and I'm sure we'd have a much more efficient, and maybe even cheaper public transportation system.

Photo from SBS Transit website
Now, I don't understand why we still have so many single deck buses

Monday, December 10, 2012

Multi-tasking

Mothers seem to multi-task well and do things fast.

I never realised that I actually do things quite slowly until recently. (Apart from typing - I can type fast.. too fast sometimes and I click "Send" on the email and then regret..)

I suppose some things come with experience. For example, I can change diapers pretty fast now compared to 2 months ago.

TV is a bit of a luxury these days but here is an interesting article of what one can do whilst watching TV and during commercials. I like this website (www.dumblittleman.com) for the useful tips they hand out on almost everything!

Have a fruitful week ahead.

A pretty flower to brighten up Monday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hundred and Fifty Thousand

The counter on my blog says that this blog has received more than 150,000 clicks.

When the counter hit 100,000 some time back, I gushed about it to The Husband. He laughed and suggested that about half of those probably came from me.

Well, even then, 150,000 is a small milestone worthy of celebration.

I started blogging in Dec 2008, when I was working on a contract job from home in Singapore for my ex-company in Beijing. I had lots of time back then and could blog as often as I liked... until I started full time work again in April 2010.

Since I started blogging, I've met many new friends - some solely on cyberspace and some I've actually met up with physically. Ting, Petunia, Wen-ai, Fry, Leah (not a blogger but a reader) are some of those I've met. Sinfonia, of course I knew before blogging but I feel I know more of now because of her blog. Others, like Malar, Lrong, Stephanie, Vivian, Celine, Rene, I've never really met.. but I feel I know them (or at least their gardens) because of their blogs and their comments on mine.

My posts have changed from short ones without any photos, to really long posts without any photos.. to what they are now - usually with a photo whether long or short. I think having a photo just makes me feel a little happier about the post.

I used to take all my pictures with a simple camera. Now, most of my pictures are taken with The Husband's DSLR, most often using the macro lens I gave him for his birthday (Hmph, it seems the lens is more for me than him right...? Hmph). And when I forget the DSLR, of course there's always the trusty iPhone.

I started this blog to write about mainly cooking and gardening. My garden is now in a pretty sad state and I no longer cook or bake that often. But I've come to use this blog to note down stuff I do, food I eat, places I go to and my experiences in general. And at the end of the year, when I don't remember what I've done along the way, I read this blog to remind myself about the year.

This year, I didn't blog much. But reading others' blog has become very much a part of my day.. it's like reading the newspaper in the morning. Somehow, my day won't feel right or complete if I don't catch up on the blogs I follow.

I will definitely continue to blog.. even with Little N and after going back to work. Blogging has given me new experiences and time to reflect on my life.. and I'm not quite prepared to give that up!

P/S: Suddenly, I remember this old post of mine on why I blog.. the reasons I've written last time still hold true!

This blog is a lot about good food. 
This is my favourite fried tang hoon by my mum

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Mini Break

On Monday, I met up with 3 other church friends for high tea.

All four of us had our babies in August and September this year. This high tea session was supposed to be a mini break for us.

Happy wasn't able to get help so she brought her little son, Little Z along. He was very well-behaved so our tea session really wasn't disrupted by him at all.

We talked, complained, shared and laughed. I had a great time and felt revitalized after the high tea!

Of course, the food at 10 Scotts was great as well.

I loved the hot dish of the day - mushrooms and pasta with meatballs. The scones were as usual very very good - I really loved the hot scones with clotted cream and raspberry coulis. The 2 tier tea set (items refillable upon request) came with delicate sandwiches, crab cake and local delights like kueh pie tee, popiah and curry puff. The crab cake and curry puff were both exceptionally good.

The desserts were buffet style and they were all delicious as well. I liked the raspberry sorbet and dark chocolate ice-cream.

The best part of the afternoon was of course the company of my 3 friends and really look forward to another catch up some time in the near future!

The 2 tier tea set

Pasta and meatballs

The desserts were all good

The glorious scones - the clotted cream is to die for

I love how the ice-cream and sorbet came in little frozen pots

Photos not tagged with Openkitchenconcept are all courtesy of Happy.

10 Scotts
Grand Hyatt hotel
Add: 10 Scotts Rd (where else?)
Click here to make a reservation

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Morning Reset

Everyday by 8pm, I'm exhausted.

If I manage to steal a nap that day, I'm exhausted by 9pm. If Little N had woken up more than 2 times the night before, I'm exhausted by evening time, as early as 6pm.

Many advise that new mummies should always nap when the baby is napping. It's really easier said than done, you know. When Little N is napping, I need to shower, do the laundry, eat my breakfast or lunch, clean her room... By the time I finish some of these things and settle down to rest, she's up from her nap.

Strangely though, I find myself re-energized for the day when Little N is taking her first morning nap, after my morning shower. It's like there is a reset button somewhere that helps me feel energized for the day after the shower... until 6pm, or 8pm or 9pm...

Recently she has been napping pretty well, especially in the mornings, so I can afford to take time to reset in the morning to prepare for the day ahead.

Have a happy morning!

Brunch at Bishan Park - it was the first time we brought Little N with us for brunch. 
The cafe was extremely noisy but amazingly, she slept through our meal


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best Strawberry Shortcake

I like eating Strawberry Shortcakes. The name itself makes me feel a little happier. It reminds me of the cartoon character of the same name and other cartoon characters that used to be so popular in my days (Carebears, Smurfs and all)

Surprisingly, I think the best one in Singapore is from Four Leaves, a bakery chain with a store in almost every major shopping mall. The cream is light and slightly sweet and the sponge cake is nice and fluffy. Most importantly, it's available in almost every mall so it's easy to get your hands on one.

Tampopo Deli (at Liang Court) also sell a very good one. I like their strawberry shortcake and Scoop Cake. Some think they sell the best strawberry shortcakes in Singapore. I think their cream, which is milky yet light, is indeed nicer than most other places.

Patisserie Glace (at Icon) also makes a pretty good one. It's one of their best sellers and the cake indeed looks very pretty. The plus side about their strawberry shortcake is that they don't stinge on the strawberries. But I find the cake a tad too moist and hence not as fluffy as I'd like it to be.

If you know of any fabulous strawberry shortcakes, do let me know!

Four Leaves' creation

Tampopo Deli

From Patisserie Glace

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Few Random Things I've Learnt

Here are a few random things I've learnt from Little N and through taking care of her..

1. Forgive and forget - You can accidentally drop baby (er.. just to clarify, not that I did this.. though I did accidentally knocked her on her head *ouch, my heart*) or make baby cry (well, er yes, I did make baby cry.. all the time.. through not understanding what she wants) and you will still get a smile from her the next minute

2. Life's too short to care about what others think - It's perfectly okay to smile one minute and cry the next, or even do both at the same time

3. Know what you want and say it. And if you don't get it - it's ok to pout, cry and yell.. if you are a baby. I guess we adults have it easier because we can communicate and tell others what we want. I think our problem usually is that in spite of our ability to communicate, we often don't and end up bottling our feelings and getting all upset and frustrated

4. Naps are a waste of time. Again, life is too short for naps so they should always be resisted, with a fair amount of pouting and crying

5.  There is no better time. There is no better time to play than NOW. Even if it is 5am in the morning, you should attempt to play. Again, life's too short, so why miss out on the fun stuff.

6. Nails grow fast and sharp when you are on an all milk diet (My own observation - mums out there, let me know if you don't think the same)

7. You don't really always know yourself. I didn't know I'd obsess so much over baby poo, nose shit, ear wax and fingernails. Especially baby poo. I've googled, taken pictures, emailed pictures, sniffed and observed poo in greater details over the past few weeks.. much more than I ever thought I'd do.

8. Let go and let God. Sometimes when you cry with your fists clenched and eyes close, you miss out on things your Mum or Dad wants to give you. It's the same for us and our Father in Heaven, I guess. Happy explains this well here.

9. Some things are out of your control. This is something I'm still learning. Little N naps badly and it causes great frustration for me. The Husband reminded me that there's very little I can do about it and you know, it's true. I can provide her the best environment and conditions and opportunities for napping but if she doesn't or wakes up early and crying.. as much as I'm frustrated, there is nothing I can do to make baby fall asleep if she can't.

The most animated photo I have of Little N. Too bad about the focus.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

10 weeks old

Little N is 10 weeks old now.

Time seems to fly by... At least during the day it seems so. When I wake up at night to feed her, time seems to be crawling and I can't wait for her to get older and sleep through the night.

Recently, she has become a lot more responsive - she gurgles and coos and smiles.  These and burps are my daily rewards for spending all that time with her.

Here's a photo of her showing her delight at seeing her musical mobile.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Baby doesn't sleep

My impression of babies is that they drink milk and they sleep.

When Little N first came home from the hospital, that's what she did.

Ah.. she also cried. She cried when she wanted milk and after drinking, she sleeps.

Of course, I also very quickly found out that babies pee and poo as well. A lot.

But just before Little N turned a month, she started crying more..

A WHOLE LOT MORE.

And not only when she wanted milk.

She cried and she cried. She cried when she wanted milk. She cried when she was drinking. She cried when we changed diaper. She cried when she wanted to sleep.. but oh, she wouldn't sleep. She'd doze off in my arms but once I put her down, she'd cry and she will not sleep.

Yes, that's right. She doesn't sleep.

She sleeps okay at night, waking up twice or thrice. But in the day, she'd stay awake almost all day, save for a couple of 15 mins or 30 minutes nap if I'm lucky. I started tracking how long she would stay awake and panicked when I realised she was up from 830am to 3pm.. and then 330pm to 8pm.

She'd wake up from her naps crying. Or she'd cry in her nap and then continue sleeping for a while more.

And the crying got louder and louder as she gets more and more exhausted.

Until she goes hoarse and her mummy also starts to cry.

Well meaning relatives and friends tell me "Babies do that."

"All babies cry."

"I remember my baby crying a lot too."

"It's colic. There isn't any reason why babies cry."

But I refused to believe that Little N is crying like that without any reasons. Finally, I suspected she had silent reflux and started the medication prescribed by the pediatrician. And thankfully, she got better.

Oh, she still doesn't always nap very well and still fusses at times, during some feedings and especially in the evenings.. but at least she naps once or twice a day for longer stretches now and doesn't cry as much.

Well meaning relatives and friends say "Things will get better."

This I believe and pray it'd indeed be so.

One of the rare occasion Little N nap in her cot. 
I tend to put her in a rocking chair so she gets rocked to sleep.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Reason for Not Blogging These Days

Little N smiling in her sleep with the morning sun shining in..
Mornings are hectic but waking up to see her has 
made mornings my favourite part of the day now

Little N is the latest addition to our family. She joined us on the evening of 20 Sep.

Now, there are 3 of us - The Husband, Little N and me.

And yes, she is the reason I haven't been blogging these days. In fact, I haven't been doing a lot of other things as well, apart from feeding her and changing diapers.

Things are settling down well though and we are learning to get used to each other.. :)

Will blog again once I have more time on my hands..

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Share Tea


I've always liked drinking bubble tea.

And I have certainly been drinking lots of it over the last 2 weeks.

For one, I've been on leave and hence have got time to roam around as I like. Plus, I found a great bubble tea store not too far away from my home.

The most popular bubble tea shops in Singapore seem to be Koi and Gong Cha, judging from the queues for the outlets of these 2 shops around town. However, I've come to realised that I very much prefer Share Tea.

The teas at Share tea are pretty good, though in general not as fragrant as that of some of the bubble tea stores in Taiwan. The star however, are the mini-pearls. Unlike the big pearls that most bubble tea stores in Singapore serve up, Share Tea offers mini-pearls as an option and you can drink these using a standard straw.

The service at Share Tea is usually also nice and friendly, and like many of the other bubble tea stores, they are happy to "custom-make" your drink for you - you specify the sugar level you like, how much ice you want and if you want less or more pearls. The pearls and mini pearls are offered as add-ons to any drink free of charge, which is a nice touch as well.

The outlet I've been frequenting is the one at Nex mall. They have a number of outlets around the island as well.

My favourites are Oolong Milk Tea (with or without glass jelly) and Pudding Milk Tea. The Kiwi with Ice Jelly Fruit Tea is also nice. If you don't like your drinks sweet like me, remember to ask for no sugar or 30% sugar.

L'etoile

This is a cafe tucked away at a corner of Owen Road, with Japanese-French influences.

I loved the cafe's set-up and decoration. The decoration is simple, yet quaint. Level 2 has a slightly different vibe, but I don't have pictures of Level 2.

The food though is passable, nothing great. We had breakfast there and found the food so-so. The prices though, have increased from what a few popular blogs seem to indicate. I think it's because they've revamped the menu and prices recently.

It's not a bad place to spend a long afternoon with some girl friends. If you run out of new places to visit, this is a place you can consider for an afternoon tea.




L'etoile
Add: 160 Owen Road
Tel: +65 6298 2872
Website: http://letoile.com.sg/

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mushrooms on Toast


This is a really simple, yet delicious snack. I made this for breakfast yesterday.

Ingredients
- A couple of big handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
(Swiss brown mushrooms or portobello mushrooms, or a mixture of different mushrooms would be good. I used mini portobello mushrooms)
- Some dried herbs (parsley, thyme and rosemary would work)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- A few cherry tomatoes, halved
- Extra virgin olive oil
- A few slices of good bread (I used a sourdough bread)

What I did
- Saute the mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil
- Add in the cherry tomatoes when the mushrooms start to wilt
- Season with dried herbs, sea salt and pepper
- Whilst frying the mushrooms, toast the bread
- Pile the mushrooms and tomatoes (including any liquid) on top of the toast and serve immediately

You can also add chopped garlic, cheese and fresh herbs if you like.. but I like to keep things simple. The flavours from the mushrooms and the liquid from the mushrooms soak up the crusty bread nicely.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Papaya Smoothie


Sometimes, when I end up with a papaya I do not like - either because it's not sweet enough or I've cut it up too soon and it taste too "raw", I'd use the papaya to make a papaya smoothie.

Papaya smoothie is probably the easiest smoothie to make.

It's basically just papaya with ice, milk and a bit of honey, if you like. You can jazz it up by adding some lime juice or pineapple juice.

Papayas are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids. They are also rich in the B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid. Papayas are also rich in potassium and magnesium and fiber.

Most people would, when they think of papayas, think of them as a fruit that helps promote digestive health. Indeed, that's my reason for buying and eating papayas. They are supposed with help lactating women as well, so I supposed I'd be eating papayas and drinking papaya smoothies regularly over the next few months as well.

Desserts from Sun with Moon

Very yummy tofu cheesecake

Many of my friends like to visit Sun with Moon at Wheelock Place.

Considering how much I like Japanese food, even I'm surprised I've never been to this place.

Well, I finally made it there for dinner with a group of girlfriends last Wednesday.

To be honest, having heard all about this place, I thought the food was just "so-so". It wasn't bad but it wasn't great.. I had sushi with a salmon cheek soup and my friends ordered teppanyaki. The food was really quite forgettable.

The desserts, however, made the day.

We ordered a tofu cheesecake and a green tea parfait to share.

The tofu cheesecake was very good. It came in a very dainty looking bird's cage which made me think that they had to dress up the cake because it wasn't very good. I was so glad to be wrong. It was really quite good - the texture was very much like that of a piece of good tofu and it was a very light, not-to-sweet piece of cheesecake with a salty biscuit base I really liked. (It reminded me of this recipe from Kitchen M, which I've always wanted to try..)

The green tea parfait was really good as well. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take a photo of it! Well, never mind.. This means I have a very good excuse to visit this place for the green tea parfait again. Next time, I won't share the parfait with anyone.. Hah! (You can find a picture of the parfait from this blog post)

It was delicious, with layers of everything I like. It had starts with some good green tea ice-cream, red bean and chestnut, followed by layers of mochi, green tea jelly, green tea cake and cornflakes right at the bottom.

The desserts left me with an overall positive experience at Sun with Moon. I wouldn't go back for the mains, but I'd definitely be back for the desserts.

If you are thinking of visiting though, be sure to call and make a reservation. We were there on a Wednesday night and they were packed. Hm.. I wonder if everyone else is also there for the desserts..

Sun with Moon Japanese Dining Restaurant & Cafe
Add: 501 Orchard Rd #03-15
Tel: +65 6733 6636

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Off work


I've been off work for more than a week now.

I was very busy at work up to the very last day in the office and left at about 10pm that day..

Since then, I've tried to put work behind me and doing things I enjoy - such as going for a swim in the morning, cooking a light lunch for myself at home and going around the island, eating things I like.

Next week is The Big Week though, so this time of relaxation would be ending soon.

Looking back at my post on "Things to do before September", I definitely have not done all the things I wanted to.. but I've played enough, especially over the last one week.

Savor Rye La Mian Xiao Long Bao

I mentioned a few posts back about having xiao long bao at Kampong Bahru, where Chef Icon can be found.

Actually, the restaurant for xiao long bao and other "mainland Chinese" goodies is just next to Chef Icon.

The restaurant's name is Savor Rye La Mian Xiao Long Bao. I think the owners are Shanghainese from their accent, but I haven't heard them speaking Shanghainese dialect yet. But they are definitely recent immigrants from mainland China, from their accent and the authenticity of the food.

The Husband and I visit this restaurant whenever we miss real "mainland" Chinese food.. not the typical Singapore "Chinese" food.. but those we eat when we were in Beijing and Shanghai.

It is a humble little restaurant with a very extensive menu. As such, not everything is nice but the following dishes we've tried and we think are spot on in terms of flavour and authenticity.

Xiao long bao - almost every table would order at least one of these. Good and cheap (SGD 3.80)

Pan-Fried Bao, or Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包) 
- not the best I've ever had but good enough. I haven't found a fantastic one in Singapore

 Beijing Zha Jiang Mian (北京炸酱面) - quite authentic and good. 
I would prefer more vegetables and less meat though

Hot and Sour Soup (酸辣汤) - this is really good. The best I've had so far in Singapore. 
This doesn't come with the wantons. We like to order the Shanghainese wanton separately and add the wanton to the soup. Trust me, you'd want to try it this way as well.. It makes the soup and wanton both better!

Dry Fried Four Seasons Beans (干煸四季豆) 
- this dish is very authentic, it tastes like those we often have in Beijing

Garlic Pork slices (蒜泥白肉) - this is a cold dish. 
I don't like pork but my family liked this a lot..

This place is a hidden gem.. I'm sure there are other nice dishes as well, but the above are some tried and tested ones. There have been misses too, for sure.. like their Dan Dan noodles.. but overall, this is a really nice little restaurant to visit.. Plus you can pop by next door to buy a Chocolate Trovana cake after your meal too!

Note: Photos of this post are taken over a few trips, hence the difference in lighting and look (some are taken with my phone..)

Savor Rye La Mian Xiao Long Bao Restaurant
Add: 3 Kampong Bahru Road
Tel: +65 6223 5038


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tiong Bahru Bakery and Yong Siak Street

Tiong Bahru is one of the oldest housing estate. The Tiong Bahru wet market and hawker centre, is one of my favourite market and hawker centre. There are lots of good food available there.

This sleepy area is increasingly becoming a place where specialty cafes, restaurants and shops can be found.

Yesterday, I met up with D for lunch at Tiong Bahru Bakery (56 Eng Hoon Street).

D and I were both surprised at how busy the bakery was on a weekday afternoon. The cafe was almost full and there were lots of people coming in to take away the pastries and cakes.

We ordered a tuna focaccia and a Kouign Aman to share. I found the focaccia so-so but the Kouign Aman was as good as ever. They also served pretty good coffees and tea as well. D enjoyed her cappuccino and I liked my Gryphon tea. I had the "Pearl of Orient", which as a green tea with a hint of rose.





After lunch, we walked around the Tiong Bahru area and D brought me to Yong Siak Street. This was where a lot of the specialty cafes and stores first opened up in Tiong Bahru.

I especially liked the specialty bookstore Books Actually (9 Yong Siak Street). Here, you can find books by local writers, vintage books (Hardy boys hardcover series) and lots of interesting vintage knickknacks.

Books Actually - a very interesting bookstore

Lots of interesting vintage stuff at Books Actually. 
Everything is available for sale.. some of these are stuff my grandmother and my mum still keep!

A notebook-cum-Singlish dictionary (Note: Singlish = Singapore English)

Apart from Books Actually, there are also other interesting shops along Yong Siak Street.

Such as...
- Strangelets (7 Yong Siak Street), with lots of interesting animal shaped decorations/ furniture
- Aussie-Style cafe 40 Hands (78 Yong Siak Street)
- Open Door Policy (19 Yong Siak Street), popular restaurant that opens late into the night

Nearby are other interesting shops/ cafes as such Drips Bakery Cafe (82 Tiong Poh Road) and Flea & Trees (68 Seng Poh Lane).

The Tiong Bahru area is a nice place to wander around on a lazy weekday afternoon. You'd wish you have a few stomachs though, to try all the good food around the area.
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