Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stir-fried Beansprouts

Stir-fried Beansprouts

Stir-fried vegetables are a quick and easy way to add some fibre to your diet.  As we get more affluent, simple and cheap dishes like stir-fried beansprouts bring us back to the basics...

Beansprouts, with roots plucked off
Carrots, cut into strips
Green pepper, cut into strips
Garlic, minced
Vegetable oil,
Mushroom sauce
Light soya sauce

  1. Heat up a little vegetable oil in a wok.  Add garlic and fry until fragrant.
  2. Add beansprouts, carrots, and green pepper to the wok.  Season with mushroom sauce and light soya sauce.
  3. Add a small amount of water to the wok, turn up the fire and quickly stir-fry for a minute or less and it's ready to be served!
Note: Small pieces of salted fish can be added to this dish to give it a different twist

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Morning Walk Series [2]

Continuing with the Morning Walk Series, here's a plant that my mum used to plant in our apartment.  However, this is the first time I've seen Aloe vera flowers.  Very pretty!

Common name: Aloe vera
Binomial name: Aloe vera

Aloe vera

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jumping Queue

I hate queue jumpers!!!  Sorry, I just have to rant as someone cut MY queue this morning while I was patiently waiting for my turn, with a crying baby in tow!!! Arrrghhhhh!  There have been some cases where I'm more irritated than usual, here are just a few examples:

At the Supermarket Cashier
In a highly populated place like Singapore, supermarkets can get really crowded.  So much so that the queues at the cashier would make you think that the supermarket was giving things away for free!  So there I was, stuck in a queue which would most probably take at least 20 minutes.  And here comes this auntie (this is how we usually address more elderly women) who walks right up to the front of the queue and places her purchases on the cashier's table.  Helloo???  I can understand that you are old and would get really tired waiting in line, but you can't just cut a long queue like that, it's not your right!  If you were to ask nicely, I'm sure many kind souls would gladly let you go ahead of them.

Ordering Food
At many eating places here, you have to line up at the stall, wait for the food to be prepared and bring it to your table.  One fine day during a 1-hour lunch break, I was lining up at a food stall.... long queue... After about 15 minutes, the queue had only moved a tiny bit while the queue got longer behind me.  In comes a giggly lady and starts talking to a couple right in front of me.  "What are you guys eating? Hmmmm.... what should I eat?  Should I eat this?".  She then proceeds to ask her friends to order TWO, not ONE portion of food!!  I couldn't take it any more and just had to ask: "Excuse me, are you trying to order food now??" and eyeballed the long long queue.  "Yes, is that ok?", she had the cheek to ask!  I was boiling, and stomped off to another food stall.  Grrrrrr.....

Queuing for the Bus
At bus interchanges, there are designated areas for people to line up for buses.  Some people won't join the queue as sometimes the wait is quite long.  They prefer to lounge around nearby, comfortably seated.  However once the bus appears, they would be the first to get up and cut the queue right at the HEAD of the queue!

Why do queue jumpers/cutters exist?

  1. Some people are impatient and have total disregard for other people.  It's a Me, I, Mine mentality, a view that the world has to revolve around them
  2. People being cut condone such behaviour.  If more people could speak up to at least let them know that this kind of selfish behaviour is not accepted.  Being Asian, many people prefer to just keep quiet and grumble under their breath...
  3. Service staff condone such behaviour.  If your stall/shop/service requires customers to queue up, please apply it to all, except for special cases.  I don't expect you to scold your customers, all that is needed is a polite "Sorry sir, please join the queue"
Well, there..... I feel much better after all this ranting..... 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Morning Walk Series [1]

I've been bringing Little One for daily morning walks for about a year.  Our place is slightly away from the train station and shopping centre, making it a rather serene area.  Even though I've been staying here for many years, it was only through these walks that I realised that there is so much to see in the rooftop garden!  Here are some pretty flowers to start off the "Morning Walk" series:

Desert Rose

Desert Rose
Common name: Desert Rose
Binomial Name: Adenium obesum

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chicken & Carrot Congee

I've been blogging about food for some time but have never thought of blogging about baby food.  That is until someone asked me to share some baby food recipes too.  Here's my very first baby food recipe.

One of the most common food for babies in this part of the world, is porridge.  I prefer cooking congee (a thicker, less watery version of porridge).  Cooking congee the traditional way on the stove is very time consuming and needs lots of attention, especially when the congee reaches a rather thick consistency.  Once you let the congee burn, even if it's just a little at the bottom of the pot, the whole pot of congee will have a burnt taste.  Not good.....

However, in our modern world, cooking congee is a breeze.  I use a rice cooker which has a "Congee" setting!  Here's how easily healthy, nutritious homemade congee can be cooked for your precious baby:

Chicken & carrot congee for baby

Rice (I use mixed unpolished rice)
1 clove of garlic, whole and with skin on
1 piece of carrot, cut into thin strips
1 piece of chicken, minced
light soya sauce
white pepper

  1. Wash the rice and add it to the rice cooker pot.  Add water as specified by your rice cooker instructions in order to cook congee.  Add garlic and carrot strips to the rice cooker pot and start the rice cooker on "Congee" setting.
  2. Season the minced chicken with a little light soya sauce and white pepper.
  3. When the "Congee" cooking cycle has completed, add the minced chicken to the rice cooker pot and give the congee a quick stir.  Start the "Congee" again.  Once the 2nd "Congee" cooking cycle has completed, add a little light soya sauce to the congee.
  4. Remove the clove of garlic and serve warm.  Be very careful to cool it sufficiently so as not to burn baby while feeding.
I like to run the "Congee" setting twice in order to get a thicker, more mushed up congee as my little one doesn't have any back teeth yet.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Salmon Spaghetti

While Mummies look after little ones, they have to be sure that they are eating well too, especially if they are still breastfeeding.  Here's a dish that's quick, simple yet nutritious too!

Spaghetti, cooked as per instructions
Salmon, cut into big chunks
Garlic, minced
Tomatoes, cut
Red pepper, chopped
Celery, chopped
Black pepper

  1. After cooking spaghetti as per instructions on the packet, drain and keep some of the water.  Portion spaghetti into serving plates.
  2. Heat up some oil in a frying pan.  When oil is hot, add garlic and fry until fragrant, then add salmon chunks to the frying pan, spacing them out so that they can cook evenly.  After a few minutes, turn the salmon chunks over to cook the other side.
  3. Add tomatoes, red pepper, celery and some milk to the frying pan.  Season with salt and pepper and fry for a few minutes.  Add a little of the water retained from (1) if it is too dry.
  4. Place some of the fried ingredients from (3) on top of spaghetti to serve.  best eaten when hot!
Salmon Spaghetti

Monday, October 21, 2013

Never Ending Mess

Just last night, someone asked me why I sleep so late?  Well.... now that little one is bigger and sleeping way less than a newborn baby, there's not much chance to do serious chores during the day.  Other than nap times (which is when I scramble to prepare baby's meals as well as mine), little one now demands much more attention, whether it's playing together, going for walks or just being there to make sure he doesn't destroy anything and hurt himself in the process.  So the best time to do serious chores is when everyone goes to bed.

While everyone was sleeping last night, I quickly mopped the house like I was trying to set a new Guinness Book Record.  The faster I am, the more I'll get to rest afterwards, right?  Wrong..... just when I thought I could lie comatose on the sofa with some crappy TV programme for a few minutes, "Click click!", the washing machine says.  So off I went trying to set another Guinness Book Record hanging up the clothes to dry.  After setting 2 records, surely I can go to bed now..... nope..... I recall that I promised to make some pillow covers for someone some time back and I haven't even started yet!  After measuring and cutting cloth, I finally thought that enough was enough and retreated to the bedroom for some "me time" -- aimless surfing, checking Facebook updates etc on my mobile while lying down.   Zzzzzz....

Fast forward to this morning.  After all that hard work last night, my house should be in quite a good state, right?  WRONG AGAIN!  Little one decided that 5+am was a good time to wake up and proceeded to take all his toys (which were neatly kept the previous night) and dump them all on the floor!  By about 6am, my house was in a mess again..... Honestly, I wonder why I bother to clean up sometimes.  It hardly stays neat/clean for more than half a day...... never ending mess..... sigh....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuna Potato Patties

Ever since the kids came along, most of my cooking has been of the quick and easy kind, but once in a while, I like to experiment with new things that could be more time consuming to prepare as well as to wash up.  Here's one such experiment -- tuna potato patties!

1 can of tuna (I chose tuna in water)
red onions, chopped
red pepper, chopped
potatoes (I chose Russet)
corn flour
1 egg

  1. Boil potatoes in water until cooked through.  Peel and mash.
  2. Place tuna, red onions, red pepper, mashed potatoes, egg, some corn flour, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well.  Mixture should be able to hold it's shape and not be too wet.
    Tuna, potato, red onions, red pepper mixture
  3. Heat up some oil in a frying pan.  Shape patties using the mixture, coat the exterior with corn flour and place them in the frying pan.  Let one side brown slightly before turning over and browning the other side.
    Frying tuna potato patties
  4. Best served hot with salad and sour plum dipping sauce!
    Tuna potato patties with salad

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I use eggs all the time.  Whether as an addition to oats or instant noodles, it's something that is cheap, nutritious and easy to use.  This time, instead of my all-time favourite -- onion omelette, I cooked a more hearty version:

This omelette reminds me of Mummy... and cooking it myself reminds me that Mummy spends lots of time preparing good food for us regardless of how much time or effort it takes.  Something seemingly simple like this requires lots of time shelling small prawns.  Thank you Mummy!

Eggs, lightly beaten
Small prawns, shelled
Minced pork
Spring onions, cut into 2cm sections
Light soya sauce
White pepper
Cooking oil

  1. Heat up a little oil in a pan.  Add minced pork and prawns and fry until just cooked.
  2. Pour cooked minced pork and prawns into beaten egg, season with light soya sauce and white pepper, and mix.
  3. Add mixture to hot pan and stir while egg has not set.  Leave to cook for a few minutes, sprinkle spring onions over the half-cooked omelette, then flip the omelette over to finish cooking.  Best eaten when piping hot!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Simple Cupcake Decoration

When it comes to kids, I've realised that it doesn't really matter how fluffy your cupcake is, or how many fresh blueberries you add to it.  All that matters is a reasonably tasting cupcake, topped with sweet and pretty icing.  If there's something colourful on the icing (or dinosaurs), all the better!

I'm an amateur at piping icing, but Big One was more than happy to munch on this:


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hair for Hope 2013 - Part 2

I have to admit that my first reaction to this news was "Yes!  There shouldn't have been any wigs involved in the first place!" (See my earlier post on this issue).  BUT, I would also like to elaborate on the case of broken promises that was lacking in my earlier post.

Putting aside whether it was right or wrong of the principal to make them promise to wear wigs, the girls DID make a promise.  They were fully aware of the conditions attached to their participation in the Hair for Hope event.  As intelligent young ladies, did any of them speak up about how wearing wigs defeats the whole purpose of going bald?  If any of them didn't agree with the conditions laid down, why did they agree to it?  Since they promised to adhere to the conditions, why did they break their promise?

In short, since a promise has been made, follow it through.  Do not break the promise because you suddenly realised that the conditions do not make sense or are disadvantageous to you.

In the adult world, a promise in the form of a signed contract is legally binding.  Going against this promise would bring about legal consequences and may not be so easily resolved as in the girls' cases.  I've heard of highly intelligent people lamenting about silly conditions in contracts that they are about to break.  I can only say, "Why did you sign and agree to those silly conditions in the first place?"

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hair for Hope 2013

Hair for Hope is a fund-raising event for the Children's Cancer Foundation.  The main purpose of this event, other than fundraising, is to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to say that: "Hey, it's ok to be bald.".

This year's Hair of Hope is in it's 11th year and the main event was on 27 and 28 July.  Just a few days after this, there was news about:

3 girls who shaved head bald for charity told to wear wigs in school by principal

In summary, 5 students from a girl's school sought permission from the school to participate in Hair for Hope, whereby they will get their head shaved, with a condition of wearing a wig to school after the event.  3 of the girls went back to school without wigs, thus breaking their earlier promise to the school.  This has triggered some debate online.

In my view, there are 2 main issues here:

  1. The students broke a promise that they made to the school.
  2. Imposing the condition of wearing a wig after the event defeats the purpose of the event itself.
Yes, I agree that promises made should be kept.  Yes, the 3 students broke a promise that they made.

No, I disagree with imposing the condition of wig wearing after the event.  This act of shaving is also to tell people that it is ok to be bald and there is no need to hide or be embarrassed if kids with cancer lose their hair due to the treatment.  Wearing a wig totally defeats this purpose.  

Some replies from the school's principal were inappropriate in my opinion:
The school's rules do not allow "punk, unfeminine or sloppy hairstyles". It's very clear in our mission: it's about their turnout as a young lady.  Can you imagine if I were to say yes, I'd have everybody coming to school with a bald head. Sometimes it's a fad, so they would take advantage of the situation.
 First of all, does being bald affect the "turnout as a young lady"?  Secondly, if the school said yes, everyone would take advantage of the situation and come to school bald?  Really??  As someone pointed out online, the school should be very proud if everyone turned up bald because they participated in the event!

I think it takes courage for a teenage girl to say: "Yes! I'm going to shave my head bald for a good cause".  This is the period in life where they are the most self conscious and yet they are willing to do it for a good cause.  Being newly bald is easy.  The difficult part to me is the growing out phase.  It'll take a month or more for the hair to grow out enough to be styled again.  The turnout of a young lady does not depend on her looks, it depends on her actions.

I can understand the rules on hairstyle for normal school days.  But, since the school is allowing their students to take part in the event, could there be an exception for those for participate as long as they can prove that they went bald for this event?  Seeing that the school in discussion is a rather reputable school, why is there so much distrust in their students?  Is there a real need to impose such conditions on the do good-ers just because there is a fear of others taking advantage of the situation?

Lastly, is there an implication that being bald is "unfeminine"?  This point struck me because many many years ago, an Extra Cirricular Activity of Taekwondo was disbanded when a new principal took over the reigns in a girl's school.  And the reason?  "It was not ladylike and didn't fit the school motto of being demure"!  Well, all I can say is that Taekwondo is even more important for girls as it is a form of self defense.  I wouldn't fancy waiting for my Prince Charming to rescue me while all I can do is to scream like a damsel in distress...  Imagine how many thugs I would have to whip with my braided long hair before Prince Charming appears...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Saving Water

Singapore is a tiny island with few natural resources.  Where does our water come from?

  1. Malaysia - Singapore has been importing its water from Malaysia under two bilateral agreements.  However, one agreement has already expired in August 2011, and the other is due to expire in 2061.
  2. Local Catchment - Rainwater is collected in reservoirs, ponds, drains, canals and rivers
  3. NEWater - Water reclaimed from treated used water
  4. Desalination - Desalinating sea water
Given the importance of water as well as the possibility of lack of water in the future, shouldn't we try to save water as much as we can?  While preparing meals, I realised that quite a bit of water is used to wash rice and vegetables.  Instead of dumping all this water down the sink, I now collect it in a pail for watering my plants.  One - water is not wasted, and two - there's some good stuff in the water that the plants will love.  Win-win!

Water saved from washing rice and vegetables

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sweet Sour Pork

According to Asian culture, a new mother has to stay indoors and adhere to a strict diet for 1 month after her child is born.  During this period, also called 'confinement', one of my favourite dishes was pig's trotters stewed in black vinegar.  This is cooked with lots of vinegar and ginger.  After confinement, I was left with half a bottle of black vinegar... something I seldom use in my cooking. Not wanting to waste it, I tried cooking sweet sour pork!  This is a really tasty dish that goes very well with rice.  Enjoy!

Sweet Sour Pork
lean pork, sliced
red onion, cut into wedges
red pepper, cut into small pieces
corn flour

tomato sauce
chili sauce (optional)
black vinegar
light soya sauce
dark soya sauce
black pepper

  1. While heating up oil in wok, toss pork slices in cornflour to coat lightly.  Fry coated pork slices in oil until slightly browned and remove from wok.
  2. Using the remaining oil in the wok, fry red onion until fragrant.  Add in red pepper and the fried pork into the wok and stir fry.
  3. Prepare the sauce by mixing all the seasoning ingredients and add to the wok.  Stir fry until pork is coated with sauce.  Serve with rice while hot!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Homemade Kaya

For those unfamiliar with "kaya", it is a spread made from eggs, sugar and coconut milk, also known as coconut egg jam.  In Singapore, this is often spread on bread or toast together with butter.  Kaya in the bottled form is easily available in supermarkets and, depending on the brand, ranges from green to brown in colour.

When I was younger, my Mum would make homemade kaya once in a while.  According to her, my grandmother's recipe was: 1 bunch of pandan leaves, 1 bowl of eggs, 1 bowl of sugar, and 1 bowl of fresh coconut milk.  These simple ingredients will then be mixed together in the upper tier of a double boiler.  The ONE skill you need to make perfect homemade kaya -- PATIENCE.  While the kaya cooks in the double boiler, you have to keep stirring it so that it doesn't curdle and you get the perfect texture.

I wanted to make my own kaya, but I didn't have the time to make it the traditional way.  In steps my best internet friend -- Google... I decided to make kaya using my bread machine!  I made a watered-down version:

Bread Machine Kaya
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup eggs (approximately 4 medium sized eggs)
  1. Mix coconut milk and sugar in bread machine pan.  Add eggs to the pan through a sift.
  2. Start the "Jam" function on the bread machine.
  3. At the end of the "Jam" cycle, the mixture will appear lumpy.  Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into glass jars and keep refrigerated.
This is my lazy version where I used packet coconut milk instead of fresh and also skipped the pandan leaves.

Bread Machine Kaya (Coconut Egg Jam)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Stir-fried Noodles

Claypot Noodles
I like cooking with this kind of noodles.  Being dried, they can be kept for a longer period of time, and there is no need for pre-boiling before using them for fried noodles.  Stir-fried noodles can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be.  This time, I added more ingredients:

vegetable oil
red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
sweet peas, a handful
dried mushrooms, soaked and sliced
chicken breast, sliced and seasoned with soya sauce and pepper
soya sauce
corn flour and water mixture

1) Warm up wok and add a little vegetable oil
2) Add garlic and onions when oil is warm.  Fry until fragrant.
3) Add mushrooms and chicken.  Season with some soya sauce and pepper.
4) Add water and bring to a boil, then add 1 piece (for 1 person) of the dried claypot noodles.
5) When noodles have softened, lower the fire and add in sweet peas
6) Add corn flour and water mixture while stirring to thicken the gravy.  Enjoy while hot!

Stir-fried Noodles

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I'm guilty of yelling at my kids... it's usually when I'm in a hurry, or tired, or frustrated.  Sometimes, the anger just rises until I explode.  Big one will stop in his tracks, eyes fixed on me while i have a meltdown.  It's usually not big one's actions that made me so angry, it was just a trigger that released all the pent up frustrations for stuff that were not caused by him.

After all that yelling, big one doesn't feel good and I don't feel good... sometimes, I have another meltdown after the first.  That's when I feel like I'm a lousy Mummy for yelling, that big one doesn't love me any more... then this came up on my Facebook feed:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Steamed Fish

Steaming fish is THE easiest way to cook a nutritious meal.  Wait.... can this even be considered as cooking?  All you need to do is:

1) Place fish (I used Sea Bass here) in a plate and top with lots of ginger.
2) Season with some light and dark soya sauce and a dash of white pepper
3) Add a little water and steam till just cooked, about 5-10 minutes depending on the size and cut of your fish.  (I usually add a little water so that I have some gravy to pour over my rice)
4)  Enjoy the fish with a bowl of rice!

Steamed Fish with Rice
From the washing point of view, there's only 1 plate for the fish!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Treasure the Blue Sky

This is not the bluest of skies I've ever seen BUT it's blue enough for many people in Singapore.  Blue enough to take an outdoor morning walk.  Blue enough for many Facebook contacts to post photographs of the bluest skies they've seen in the past week and celebrate and appreciate what we take for granted every day - the blue skies that we don't even look at in our daily rush.

Over the past week or so, Singapore was affected by the worst bout of haze in history, with the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hitting a high of 401 on 21 Jun 2013 - hazardous level.  While such haze episodes affect Singapore every year, this was the worst, surpassing unhealthy levels in the 1997/1998 haze episode.

Image from NASA - This image shows the pollution over Indonesia and the Indian Ocean on October 22, 1997. White represents the aerosols (smoke) that remained in the vicinity of the fires. Green, yellow, and red pixels represent increasing amounts of tropospheric ozone

This current haze episode saddened me... some businesses marked up the prices of N95 masks as people scrambled to get masks to protect their families.  Some took the chance to add oil to fire, fanning popular but hostile opinions about everything and anything that they were unhappy about. If in a simple crisis like this, people can't band together to make things better for each other, what hope do we have when worse things happen?  It's crisis time, THE time to help each other and try to collectively make things better first, we can all complain and apportion blame when the crisis is over!

Luckily, there's always a silver lining... Friends shared their stash of masks. Families got together to make sure everyone was alright.  Lots of Wastapp-ing for those overseas to try to bring some masks back (apparently Singapore was not the only place that's out of N95 masks... supply was also short in Turkey with all the protests going on there).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

White Fungus Dessert

My mum told me that white fungus is good for the lungs, that it's the poor man's bird's nest alternative.  With the haze getting really bad in Singapore with a PSI in the hazardous region, I quickly whipped up a pot of this simple dessert in hope that it'll save our lungs from the thick haze.

White fungus dessert
dried red dates
dried longans
dried wolfberries
dried white fungus

1) Wash all ingredients and drain.
2) Soak white fungus in water until soft, then cut into small pieces
3) Add all ingredients except sugar to a pot of boiling water and boil for about 20-30 minutes
4) Add sugar to taste and serve either hot or cold.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Archaeology in Singapore

Ever since primary school, we were told that Sir Stamford Raffles was the founder of modern Singapore in 1819.  Even though 1819 seems like a long way back, I've never thought of Singapore as an old country.  And being so young, I've never thought about archaeology in Singapore.  Looking around, what I see is an urban jungle.  How can there be anything "old" to find?

I'm currently taking a course on Coursera -- Archaeology's Dirty Little Secrets.  This was meant to be a fun course, meaning that I'll view the video lectures IF I have the time and most probably not  touch the assignments.  Purely for interests sake.  But after viewing the first lecture, I was hooked!

So this led me to reading up a little about archaeology in Singapore and I was surprised that an array of artifacts were found in a test site on the Padang: indigenously made earthenware, imported Chinese trade ceramics, Tang, Song and even Jin Dynasty coinages, to metal slag and glass beads and bangles!  Check out the Southeast Asian Archaeology website for more information.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Slicing Onions with my Bosch

My darling Bosch cake mixer is not just a cake mixer, It also comes with an attachment to slice/grate food.  I'm totally new to such a device, so I tested it out with onions, slicing them coarsely:

Sliced onions

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fried Broccoli, Cauliflower & Chicken

Fried broccoli and cauliflower
Broccoli together with cauliflower has to be one of the vegetable dishes that I cook most often.  For this dish, I added in some chicken to make it a quick and easy one-dish-meal to be eaten with rice.

Chicken breast
Vegetarian oyster sauce (mushroom based)
Light soya sauce
Black pepper
Corn flour

  1. Cut chicken breast into bite-sized cubes and season with light soya sauce, black pepper and a little corn flour.  Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.  Marinate for longer if you have the time.
  2. Mince garlic.  Wash and cut up broccoli, cauliflower and carrot
  3. Heat up frying pan with a little oil.  On low heat, fry the garlic until fragrant and slightly golden brown.
  4. Add in chicken to cook for a while.
  5. Add in broccoli, cauliflower and carrot.
  6. Add vegetarian oyster sauce and a little water, stirring to mix all ingredients in the pan.
  7. Cover pan and bring up to high heat and let cook for a few minutes or until vegetables are cooked but not overly soft.
  8. Uncover the pan and give it a final stir before dishing out onto a plate.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Search for the Perfect Cupcake

Recently, there have been cupcake stores popping up everywhere.  With swirls of frosting, topped with chocolates or candy sprinkles... they look so tempting!  BUT at $3 a piece, I just can't bring myself to buy any.... it's just a cupcake!  Or isn't it?

Even though I've been baking since young with my mum, we didn't do much fancy stuff.  Most of the focus was also getting in more of the good stuff into what we bake (think loads of chocolate chips, or double the amount of walnuts!), rather than appearance.  Apparently, it's not trivial to bake and frost a cupcake just like those you see in the store.

I turned to my favourite teacher -- the internet, and finally found this "Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes" post.  Doesn't this make you drool?

Image posted with permission from

This post doesn't just tell you how to bake perfect cupcakes, it also showed the failed attempts/experiments.  I was like, "Hey, some of my cupcakes look like that!".  So if you want the PERFECT cupcake, give this a try =)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bosch Cake Mixer

I grew up with a Kenwood cake mixer in the house.  It was white with pastel blue accents.  It had 2 porcelain mixing bowls.  It had a powerful motor that failed only once in my whole lifetime.  Up till now, it is still going strong.

When I got married, the only cake mixer in the house was a handheld one.  As I wasn't baking often, I just made do with it for years.  Until one day, I just thought it was time to get a proper cake mixer... First in mind was a Kenwood, but the better ones were beyond my budget.  After much searching, I finally decided to get a Bosch.  I hope it'll be a permanent fixture in my kitchen, just as the old Kenwood was in my old home...

Bosch Cake Mixer

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Big one came home with a Mother's Day card on Friday after school:
Mother's Day Card 2013

..... and also a little poem he learnt at school:

My Mummy my friend so dear
Throughout my life you are always near
A tender smile to guide my way
You are the sunshine to light my day
To have a mummy as nice as you

Awwww..... wouldn't this melt any Mummy's heart?

Happy Mother's Day!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Steamed Chicken Wing

Steaming is a healthier way of cooking as compared to frying, and so much easier when it comes to cleaning up.  Here's a steamed chicken wing recipe that can be whipped up in no time with a few basic ingredients.

Steamed chicken wing

  1. Season mid section and tip of chicken wings with light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, sesame oil, black pepper for at least an hour.  (To prepare ahead, season chicken wings and freeze in a ziplock bag.  Take out to thaw and cook when needed)
  2. Cut some ginger
  3. Arrange seasoned chicken wings in a plate, drizzle with the seasoning and top with the ginger.  Steam for 15-20 minutes or until chicken wings are cooked through
As for washing up, there will be only 1 plate to wash!  Choose a plate to be used for steaming, thaw chicken wings on it, arrange on the same plate to steam, then eat from it =)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Banana Muffins

It was at the end of a very tiring day that I baked these banana muffins.... therapeutic baking, that's what I call it.  Some time back, big one had lots of painful ulcers in his mouth, so we bought bananas to freeze and make banana milkshake to help numb the pain.  Apparently it still hurt a lot, and big one just refused to drink any  more after a few sips.  So I was left with lots of really ripe bananas.

This recipe calls for mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately, then combining them. Really quick and easy.

Ingredients A
2 cups flour
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (can be replaced with chocolate chips)

Ingredients B
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup mashed banana

  1. Mix all of ingredients A together
  2. Mix all of ingredients B together
  3. Mix B into A until combined
  4. Pour into lined muffin tin and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes.  Makes 12 regular sized muffins
Banana muffins

Monday, May 6, 2013

A New Stage

I've been working at my first and only job after I graduated from university.  More than 10 years of work... other than taking a long break when I had my big one, and now, when I'm looking after my little one.

For someone who is used to getting a regular paycheck every month, I won't deny that I'm a little worried about being a stay-at-home-mum (SAHM)... Worried that:

  • I won't have enough savings for the kids or for old age
  • it won't be the same when I go back to work a few months down the road
  • I won't have money to spend
But worries aside, I really feel that it's important to spend time with the little one.  I'm a worrier, but maybe it's time to relax a little, see what's important, do what I want in life...  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Should the Kids be Scolded (Part I)

When kids misbehave or throw a tantrum, should the kids be scolded?

While this may seem like a silly questions, especially in a more Asian parenting style where traditionally scolding and caning are generally accepted, what I want to explore and discuss goes beyond the surface... let me explain using an example...

Kid refuses to stop playing games - To scold or not to scold?
I'm referring to electronic games, whether it's on iPads or mobile phones or computers.  Kid refuses to stop after several reminders/threats.  Isn't this a straight forward "SCOLD"?  Well, it really depends... ask yourself a few questions:

1) Who introduced the games to the kid?  Was it you, the parent?
2) Are you guilty of letting the kid play continuously on several occasions without saying anything?
3) Did you explain to the kid when they can play, and how long he/she should play as well as enforce the rules you set for the kid?

The reason why I ask these questions is simple: to me, the kid is not totally at fault.  From the kid's point of view, "Mummy/Daddy let me play games, then all of a sudden, they are scolding me because I'm playing games.  Why??"  These electronic games have become a tool that many parents use in order to get some "me" time, or some quiet time.  Nowadays, I notice that when we eat at restaurants, kids would be armed with an iPad/mobile phone and they would be playing with it throughout the meal.  I find this rather disturbing...

I totally understand why parents use games as a distraction tool, I'm guilty of that at times too.  But, we have to be aware that this tool cannot be used all the time until it becomes a habit.  Kids do not automatically prefer games over interaction with their parents, they are trained by their parents to do that.  When you spend that extra effort to spend time with them (REALLY spending time with them, not PRETENDING to), they really love the attention.  When they get the attention of their parents, they are more well behaved and there are fewer tantrums.  Isn't this better than screaming your head off at a wailing kid who's throwing a mega tantrum at a busy mall with the whole world watching??

Note: This post was originally from another of my blogs and was moved here as this a more suitable platform.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Planting Experiment: Carrot

Read online that you can plant carrots really easily -- cut up the parts that you usually cook/eat and stick the top part in soil!  Look at this, such cute leaves!!

As a side note, this carrot was completely utilised:
1) top end planted
2) bottom tip composted
3) centre portion eaten.... yummy =p

Thursday, April 25, 2013


What do I do with my kitchen scraps?  Why do I freeze them?  Here's where my frozen kitchen scraps go: into a flower pot with some soil!

Kitchen scraps in pot
Why??  This is my tiny little effort at composting, a tiny little effort to reduce the amount of rubbish that I throw into the rubbish bin.  I first attempted composting in a closed container under the kitchen sink.  As it was a closed system, I had to open it up and stir it every day to avoid anaerobic decomposition.  Then I got lazy and didn't stir it for 1 week..... URGHHHH..... stink stink stink!!  So the closed compost bin was banished from the house!

Eventually I started the more current system of adding kitchen scraps to a pot of soil.  Initial problems of having flies was solved by burying the scraps instead of leaving them on top, like this:

Kitchen scraps buried
How about trying out composting?  You reduce the amount of rubbish and get some fertiliser at the same time!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dinosaur Cupcakes

My big one requested for a dinosaur cake.  As the YouTube video only showed how to decorate the cake, I went in search for recipes for both the cake as well as the frosting.  I even went to raid my Mum's well stocked baking equipment cabinet(s) and brought home a few cake tins.  However, the icing bag with different tips that I remember using as a kid was no where to be found.

After lots of thought, I decided to abandon the dinosaur cake... What if the cake doesn't turn out right? What if the icing is horrible?  Assuming I'm successful, how will I bring the cake to big one's school?  Yes, yes, as you can see, I'm a worrier type...

So, I planned something different.  It still involved dinosaurs, and if it failed, I wouldn't feel so bad about wasting (throwing away) everything I was going to make.  Here's my plan: cupcakes with dinosaur decoration!

Step 1: Make chocolate dinosaurs

Chocolate Dinosaurs
Step 2: Make cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes
Step 3: Make icing and ice

Iced cupcake
Step 4: Top with dinosaurs!

Dinosaur cupcakes!!

Note: Cupcake and icing recipe can be found here

Big one was very happy to see these when he came home from school!!  A few days later, there was only one dinosaur cup cake left but big one kept saying he didn't want to eat it.  Why?  "I want to keep it for my birthday!", he said.

"Don't worry, you can eat it.  I'll make more of this again for your birthday".  (Birthday is a few months away) *tired but happy Mummy*

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dinosaur Cake Request

My big one loves dinosaurs, so when I saw this YouTube video on how to make one, I showed it to him:

"Mummy, can you make this dinosaur cake for my birthday so that I can bring it to school?", he asked... All I could say was that I'll think about it and check if I have all that is needed to make it.

I've been baking since young, BUT I've never done anything like this dinosaur cake before!  The most decorative thing I have ever made were butterfly cupcakes and those were no where as fancy as this.  Hmmmm..... what should I do?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Delhi Rape

A five-year-old Indian girl who was abducted, repeatedly raped and tortured in New Delhi

Another rape? 5 years old?? You have got to be kidding me!!! The gang rape case in 2012 shocked me... How could such a thing happen? This was not just rape. People don't die from rape. How could a human inflict such serious harm on another human, until death results?

I vividly remember a chinese debate competition. One team was arguing for 人性本恶 (People are bad by nature), while the other was arguing for 人性本善 (People are good by nature). The 人性本恶 team won.  For there to be hope for mankind, I want to believe that 人性本善, but judging from all the horrible news nowadays, maybe it's true that 人性本恶?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lovely Morning Walk

A lovely morning walk with the little one.  Cool breeze, what a contrast to the scorching heat yesterday.  Apparently we were not the only ones taking a walk...

Snail taking a morning walk

Snail climbing...
Have never noticed there were so many snails in the rooftop garden... One of the little things that we overlook in our daily rush...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What do you do with your kitchen scraps?

When I cook, I like to prepare all the ingredients way before cooking time... just in case the little one decides to be cranky just then.  Whenever I have the time (i.e. the little one is taking a nap), I wash and chop everything up, then place them in the fridge for later.  Here's something all nicely prepared:

All ready to be cooked!
And the by-product of all this is here -- vegetable scraps:

Vegetable scraps

Notice that the vegetable scraps are in a box?  Why?  Because I collect them and freeze them.  What do you think I'll do with them next?

Quick and Good for Busy Mums

For all mums out there looking after babies, you'd know how much work there is to be done, especially if you are home alone during the day.  There are baby's needs to tend to, housework to be done... do you still have time to cook?  But as a breastfeeding mum, can you afford not to eat?

For times when baby is not cooperative, I have a back-up plan -- Instant oats!

Instant oats - a life saver for busy mums!
For desperate times, you could just add hot water to instant oats and drizzle on some honey.  But, I like adding in an egg for a little more nutrition.  It'll only take about 5 minutes of "cooking" time:

  1. Start boiling a little water in a saucepan on high heat
  2. Grab an egg and crack it into a bowl and beat lightly
  3. Get ready to pour instant oats into saucepan once the water boils (this shouldn't take long as only a little water is needed)
  4. While stirring the oats, pour in egg (I like streaks of egg)
  5. Pour your meal into a bowl and drizzle honey to taste and you are done!

For those who don't like washing up (just like me!), there are only a few things to wash:  Bowl (for egg), saucepan, bowl (for eating), spoon (for stirring while cooking and eating), fork (to beat egg).

So there you have it:
Cooking time - 5 minutes
Washing time - 5 minutes

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Blasts

Woke up to this news this morning...

More killings, more blood, more sorrow...  What's happening to this world?  Does there have to bloodshed every now and then?  Regardless of race or religion, everyone, let's pray for all those who were affected (physically/emotionally) in this horrific blast and that they'll recover soon...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Start is the End, Like a Perfect Circle

Today marks the day that the Circle of Life begins.  I believe that things go in circles -- the start is the end, just like a perfect circle.  However, life is complex.  At different stages of our lives, we see things differently.  Sometimes, we see a part of something and think that it is the whole thing.  Other times, we see the whole thing, yet think that there must be more to it.

Life is simple, but many of us humans make it complex.  Here, I will start sharing simple, boring daily activities or thoughts, to the more profound topics where I do not have any answers to.  Let the journey begin!