Thursday, March 31, 2011

Red Dragon Fruit Juice

I seldom eat dragon fruit because I find it a little bland. Sure, you would never get one that is sour.. (unlike some fruits) but you never get one that is sweet too. It just has this in-between kind of taste that I don't find particularly interesting.

But red dragon fruit has such a vibrant colour that it makes a really interesting drink. Blend some with ice and simple syrup and you'd get a really pretty drink.

It's a nice drink to serve when you have guests over.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Open Kitchens and No Deep Frying

There is no deep frying allowed in our house.

Except when The Mother-in-law is here because she can do anything she likes in the kitchen since she is the chief cook. But apart from the few weeks when The Mother-in-law is in town, deep frying is disallowed in our house.

I love deep-fried food, don't be mistaken. But when I want them, I go out to eat. My favourite place for deep fried food is Tonkichi, of course.

But I digress.

So what does one do when one cannot deep fry, even shallow fry?

I've come to discover that many a great recipe can be done by baking in the oven instead.

This recipe of chicken wings with octo vinaigrette called for deep-fried chicken wings. I baked the wings instead and then coated the wings in the vinaigrette.

Ingredients for the octo vinaigrette (Recipe from here)
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 fresh bird's eye chilli, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sweet light soy sauce
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
Fresh ground black pepper

I didn't have any fresh chilli so I used Korean chilli powder instead. And because I was too lazy to chop the garlic and ginger, I grated everything with my MasterPlane grater. It worked fine and I thought the wings were pretty good but apparently, it'd be so much better if you take the time to finely chop everything.

Next time, I'd be good and stick to the recipe..

And I'd also want to try making this sticky balsamic chicken by baking the chicken first.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ice blended lime juice

Nothing taste better than lime juice on a hot sunny day.

Nothing except ice-blended lime juice.

It's very easy to make too - lots of ice, lime juice, simple syrup (sugar and water) and a bit of lime peel. Mix everything together in a powerful blender to taste and you get the ultimate thirst quencher for a hot afternoon.

Do drink up quickly though - this drink melts easily.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baked Prawns with Cellophane Noodles

Cellophane noodles, or 冬粉 or 粉丝 as is commonly called in Mandarin is one of my favourite types of noodles.

My mum can fry absolutely fabulous cellophane noodles. She usually does the dish only on Chinese New Year eve, so in between, I try to make do with making them on my own.

I usually cook mine with prawns and this is how I go about making it:
1. Stir fry some chopped garlic and sweet yellow onions over a stove til light brown
2. Add in some sliced mushrooms, carrots or bell peppers and fry until soft
3. Season with light and dark soy sauce, Chinese wine and very little salt
4. Add some stock and then add in the cellophane noodles
5. Add in some green vegetables (optional) and then top with prawns
6. Season the prawns generously with freshly grounded black pepper and sea salt
7. Put the dish into a pre-heated oven at about 180 deg C and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the prawns just turn red.

This time, I tried making it with the thicker Korean cellophane noodles but it wasn't as good.

I'd stick to the regular ones in future.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

View from the balcony - Part 2

I left work early this afternoon because I found myself coughing too much in the office. So as you can imagine, it wasn't a very good day for me.

I couldn't sleep when I came back so it was very frustrating. But I was rewarded with this view in the evening on my balcony as I watched the sun set.

Enjoy the view with me..

(Also see View from the balcony - Part 1)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mixed Rice with Olive Vegetables

I like making mixed rice, or flavoured rice.

Somehow, I find them a lot more interesting than plain white rice or brown rice. I usually like to make these when I cook a one-dish dinner.

Here are a couple I've blogged about before - Mixed rice with chestnuts and mixed rice with edamame.

On Sunday, I made mixed rice with olive vegetables and edamame. Preserved olive vegetables can be found readily in most supermarkets. It is often used as a condiment for plain Teochew-styled porridge.

All you need to do is drain a couple of teaspoonful of the preserved olive vegetables into a pot of cooked rice and stir well. I added some edamame for texture but you can add anything you like.

Tonight, I also used the olive vegetables in my fried rice. The fried rice turned out pretty well too.

There is so much you can do with the humble little bottle of preserved olive vegetables. I'd definitely be using it in more dishes soon. Watch this space for more!

Up and About Again

The sky is gloomy but the little breeze is great

It started with a very sore throat on Sunday morning that didn't subside in spite of the anti-inflammatory pills I took. And then my body starting aching all over because of the high fever.

On Monday morning, the doctor declared that I had a throat infection of sorts and ordered me to rest in bed for 2 days.

Which was what I did and I'm so glad I took his instructions pretty much literally.

Because I am up and about now, able to taste food again somewhat and enjoy the nice little breeze out there in my balcony now because of the rain earlier this afternoon.

Yes, it's nice to feel healthy again. It reminds me that our health is the most important thing, no matter what we think.

My lantanas seem to like the combination of hot and 
rainy weather we are having in March

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bibigo - Healthy Korean Food

Bibigo is a restaurant at Raffles City, which isn't far from where I worked.

I've been there twice now - once for lunch and once for dinner. It is a Korean dining chain that serves healthy Korean food.

I find their bibimbap (Korean mixed rice in hot stonepot) and seafood pancake a bit too oily though so I'm not quite sure about healthy part. But they do use pretty healthy ingredients in all their dishes.

Their spicy rice cake comes with sweet potato sticks and ginko nuts, for example. The seafood pancake also comes with lots of shredded zucchini and spring onions.

2 things I will definitely be back for. One is the yummy salad (I forgot the name) which came with baby spinach, tofu, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, Korean rice cracker and a very tangy sauce.. The other is the house specialty - bibigo rice - a hybrid between mixed rice and salad. For this, you choose the type of rice you want (brown, white, white with barley or black pearl rice), the meat (or tofu) and sauce that you want.

I really liked this salad - something I'd come back to Bibigo for

The seafood pancake was good but too oily for my liking

I've always liked spicy rice cakes - this one is good but is definitely more sweet than spicy

Another dish I'd be back for - bibigo rice. It's like a salad with rice. 

The takeaway box is most impressive

Add: 252 North Bridge Road, #B1-74 Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: +65-63364745

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Honeymoon Dessert

In our dating days, I flew up to Hong Kong every other month. Then, we would drive out to various parts of Hong Kong to have long walks or simply try out new restaurants.

We liked going to Sai Kung because there were always things to see and good food to eat at Sai Kung. Honeymoon Dessert (满记甜品) was a shop in Sai Kung I particularly liked. The desserts were good and seemed well worth the drive to Sai Kung.

Since The Ex-Boyfriend (aka The Husband) moved from Hong Kong and sold his car, we haven't really been back to Sai Kung.

I missed the sight of fishing boats selling their catch and the many quaint restaurants at Sai Kung.

But not Honeymoon Dessert!

It is now a chain store that can be found in a number of shopping malls in Hong Kong. And it even has 3 stores (at least, I only know of 3) in Singapore! The mango desserts here are all pretty good. 

Fresh mango with herbal jelly and mango sauce - delicious and healthy

Black glutinous rice with fresh mango in a cold coconut sauce. 
My favourite! 

Mango and Pomelo sago (杨枝甘露) - not too bad 
but I've definitely had better ones

Honeymoon Dessert
Add: 1 Harbourfront Walk #01-93 Vivo City
Tel: +65-63768027

The Sunset at Marina Barrage

Last Friday, I was very relieved and glad to receive a call from A, my Japanese friend.

The Husband and I emailed and called A after the  earthquake at Sendai but did not manage to get any reply from her. We knew she was in Tokyo and should be quite safe but not having a reply was still rather unsettling.

A called us on Friday to say that she was safe and in Singapore, no less! Her company decided to send her to their Singapore office a few days after the earthquake at Sendai.

So we brought her out yesterday and after a very early dinner, we decided to go take a walk at Marina Barrage.

The sunset at Marina Barrage was beautiful - Singapore's skyline has really changed with the Marina Bay Sands and Singapore flyer.

It was a very peaceful and cool evening after the rain yesterday afternoon. There were lots of people at the Barrage, having a picnic, flying kites, or simply taking a walk like us. The atmosphere was festive and yet relaxing, very different from how Tokyo feels like now, A commented.

There were many people flying kites at the Barrage 

 The view was beautiful

Singapore flyer with a blue and pink sky

Marina Bay Sands in the setting sun

The sky got bluer and bluer as the sun went down the horizon

Monday, March 14, 2011

Retired Husband Syndrome

An interesting article by a male reporter. Pretty funny, I thought.

I've often wondered what one can do after retirement.

Enjoy this read!

Straits Times 13 Mar 2011
By Marc Lim


It's the one thing almost all working adults look forward to. Whether you're a CEO or a blue-collar worker, there's something cathartic about being finally able to put your feet up and not worry about meetings, deadlines and bosses.

Instead, it's time for doting on the grandchildren; time to pick up a hobby; time to enjoy all that CPF money that has finally come your way.

But, if the views of a growing number of women are to be believed, dealing with the retirement of their husbands has increasingly become more of a pain.

A family friend, whose husband recently called it a day from his banking job, complained: 'It's as if he's suddenly become the woman in the marriage. He nit-picks, complains when things don't go according to his liking and even throws tantrums.'

Apparently, this 'infliction' plaguing men is so widespread that there is even a term for it.

'It's called RHS - Retired Husband Syndrome,' said an aunt who has been trying to live with its ill effects for years.

It stems from a generation of retired men who are struggling to deal with the idea of the new retired women. Previously, the role of women hardly changed even when they hit their 60s - since most of them were housewives to begin with anyway.

But the babyboomers generation saw more women joining the men in the workforce. A number of them, like their husbands, also took on senior management roles. When they retire, they have their own interests and hobbies.

Said another aunt: 'The men don't understand that it's no longer like their mothers' generation. We volunteer, do church work, serve on committees, go for high teas, have manicures. It's our time, too. We don't want to spend our retirement years being bossed around - most of the times unreasonably.'

Almost always, say the wives, the retired husbands' need to feel important at home leads to unnecessary drama and tension. My aunt cites an example of how she and her friends went on a short trip together, only to return to a home she barely recognised.

My uncle, who enlisted the help of their maid, saw the need to reorganise the storeroom and kitchen - and ended up throwing away things that he deemed surplus to requirements.

Among the items that were thrown away included bags of clothes that were supposed to be given to charity and pots and pans which had been passed down generations.

Said my aunt: 'Things that were stored in a corner of the store room, things that he never knew even existed, suddenly became a problem overnight, just because he had nothing better to do.'

Such conflict in the silver years is set to affect even more people as Singapore ages.

A recent research report from Swiss banking giant UBS found that Singapore is set to be the world's third-fastest ageing nation, as the proportion of those aged 65 and above will double to 20 per cent in 2020.

A greying Singapore could also see grey skies hover over many a household.

My aunt said to me: 'Your generation will have it even worse if man and wife don't come to a compromise. Women of your generation are more capable, they won't be content to sit around at home to be at their husbands' beck and call.'

Her suggestion is for men to take up a hobby. 'Go take up golf, learn flying, just anything to keep you out of the house,' she said, half in jest.

I brought the issue of Retired Husband Syndrome up with several of my uncles. And while they stopped short of admitting they were the cause of unnecessary tension at home, they offered their side of the story.

An uncle said: 'We, too, would love to hang out with the boys all the time, take trips overseas for golf. But do you think the wives would be happy? They complain that we're out so much. So to avoid conflict, we stay home.'

Added another uncle, who worked as an engineer: 'But once at home, you can't expect us to do nothing. We spent our lives finding solutions to problems, making sure things are efficient, so if we spot something not quite right at home, it's only natural that we fix it.'

It may be 30 years till I hit retirement age, but I reckon I should start preparing. And I think I've found the perfect way to keep myself busy, keep out of my future spouse's hair, yet be in a fixed location so that she is aware of my whereabouts.

I'm taking up mahjong.

Probably a great time for gardening, methinks. 
Look at my large curry plant, by the way. It used to be so little..

Fruit Scoop Cake @ Tampopo Deli

Liang Court is one of my favourite haunt for Japanese food and Japanese groceries. It is also home to one of the best (according to me) fresh cream chiffon cake in town.

This fruit scoop cake is simply delicious - the cream is milky yet light, with a hint of vanilla. I felt it was a little like eating milk. The cake is light and spongy without being too airy. I can't quite make out if it is a sponge cake or a chiffon cake.

The fruits are a perfect accompaniment to the light cream - peach slices in the centre with orange and strawberries on top.

Worth every bit of its SGD 6 price tag.

Try it out if you ever happen to go by Liang Court.

Tampopo Deli
177 River Valley Road #B1-16
Liang Court Shopping Centre
Singapore 179030
Tel: +65-6338-7386

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Salsa in a Cookie Jar

It's my grandmother's birthday today and we had potluck at my uncle's place. My mum and aunts were in charge of the food so there was little for me to contribute.

Nevertheless, I thought I'd bring some nibbles along, knowing well that I'd probably be bringing in half of it back as there will likely be too much food.

This salsa was extremely easy to prepare and went well with the colourful mixed-vegetable tortilla chips. I made the salsa in a little cookie jar and brought it over in the jar. I thought it was a great idea because it looked really quite good on the dining table and was extremely convenient to bring over. Click here for the homemade salsa recipe.

My mum and aunts went all out to cook (or buy, for those who don't cook) a really nice meal for my grandma and the rest of us. There were lots of yummy dishes for dinner - these were the ones I managed to take pictures of before the crowd descended on the dinner table.

Fried glutinous rice - one of my mum's specialties

Fried beehoon (rice vermicelli) - another of my mum's specialties. 
I wished I could cook beehoon like her!

Curry vegetables - curry is always popular with my family

Happy birthday, grandma!
(The cake is obviously bought by one of my aunt)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sendai - This time last year

 A sign-board at Matsushima. The Husband and I stopped to take a picture of this. 
It seems incredulous that a tsunami did strike one year on..

The Husband and I took a trip to Tohoku and Tokyo last year this exact same time. Our first stop was the city of Sendai. Sendai is a wonderful city, capital of the Miyagi prefecture and I blogged much about the great food and beef tongue.

We also visited several coastal cities nearby such as the famous Matsushima and the town of good sushi, Shiogama.

It was in horror as we watched on TV yesterday that an 8.9 earthquake and destructive tsunami just hit the area, causing hundreds of deaths and massive destruction.

We'd be praying for you, Japan.

The retro bus that brings you around Sendai

Sendai's famous grilled beef tongue

The oyako-don that left a deep impression on us - we said we'd go back to Sendai for this..

One of the 3 most famous scenic sites of Japan - Matsushima

 Matsushima is a beautiful place

I wonder what happened to Matsushima

The coastal town with a large fishing port, famous for its sushi - Shiogama

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Simple Living #3 - A Poem

I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head.
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through the door.
I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my windowsill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.
Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things--old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.

--Grace Noll Crowell

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blog Add-ons

A few people have asked me about how to add those fancy gadgets on one's blog so I thought I should just leave a post here about it..

There are lots of professional blogs out there but I'm not one of them.. so what I do is very simple:

Step 1: Add a Gadget
Go to Blogger > Design > Page Elements and click "Add a Gadget"

Step 2: Select the Gadget you like
Some standard features like "Blog Stats", "Popular Posts", "Labels" etc are provided by blogger. When in doubt, click on "Most Popular" and select from there

Step 3: Select HTML/JavaScript if you want to add some third party gadgets

Step 4: Paste the codes from third party gadgets
After you have selected this, paste the html codes given from those third party gadgets

The ones I use on my blog (and they are all free although you may need to register to get them) are from: - for the live traffic feed - for the traffic counter for the photo gallery - for the "You may also like" feature - for my anniversary ticker

So there you go.. very simple steps from OpenKitchenConcept. Hope this helps!

Simple Living #2 - A Story

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the purpose of showing him how poor people live.

They spent a couple of nights on the ranch with what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked, "Son, how was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad."

"Did you see how those people live?" the father asked.

"Oh yeah" said the son.

"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered:

"I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us , they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, "Thanks Dad, for showing me how rich people live."
We may think we are rich when we are actually poor.

I think this is very true for many Singaporean families, including my own.

We live in a peaceful country but with lots of stress instead of tranquility..

Our country is called the Garden City yet we don't take time to smell the flowers..

We lack no good food on our table yet our food is mostly not organic and often processed..

I want to rethink the concept of rich and poor and strive towards leading a rich life with little money instead of a poor life with lots.