Monday, April 14, 2014

莫当低头族

昨天一早陪母亲到家附近的烧腊店买清明节拜拜用的烧鸡烧肉。那知今年店里换了位”掌门“,说要预订才有。”那我们没预订的怎办?”
 
店里有员工悄悄地告诉母亲 "您八点半再来一趟,我給您留一份。" 哇,真太好了!
但还要等一个多小时呢, 只好进市场里逛几圈咯。这一逛大有收获。


 
买到平时在wet market较少见到的 cherry tomato variety
 

and 超甜的韩国士多啤梨!
 
近日雨水不多, 太阳又凶,有些树木被嗮得干枯了。但也有花朵对阳光情有独中,竞相盛放,红白粉黄,四处可见。这个时候如果做低头族的话你很可能会错过哦!
 


 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mom's Tea-Time Favourite


Mom really loves “骆笨”.  If I haven't made them for some time, she would remind me that I still have dried fruits in the fridge. "Don't you think they'll be perfect for making 骆笨?" she would ask me hopefully. 
 
I first learnt to make Rock Bun back in my secondary school days.  When I practise making them at home they turned out as hard as stone, which led my mother and my aunt to comment that its name befits it. In truth, the Rock Bun (or Rock Cake) is so called because it has a rough surface that resembles a rock. It originated in Great Britain during the Second World War, when strict rationing pushed families to create a tea-time treat that uses a lot less sugar and fewer eggs than regular cakes.
 
Yields 15
 
225 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
75 grams caster sugar, plus extra to finish
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
175 grams dried fruit, chopped
125 grams unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 medium egg
About 25 ml milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A good pinch of salt
 
Have ready one or two baking trays lined with nonstick paper, and preheat your oven at 200 degrees C.
 
Put the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl, add the cubed butter and rub it through evenly. Stir in the lemon zest and dried fruit.
 
Beat the egg with the milk in a jug or another bowl, along with the vanilla extract, then pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to a stiffish but spoonable dough – add a dash more milk, if you think it needs it.
 
Scoop egg-sized dollops of the dough on to the tray, keeping them rough looking, and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until just turning golden-brown.
 
Enjoy!
 
 
 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tough Cookie


She and I aren't particularly close but since my great-grandfather and her grandfather shared the same grandfather (or was it great-grandfather?) I suppose it's fair to say that our families are related.  She is one tough cookie, this 84 year-old Aunt SS of mine.  Some years ago she suffered a stroke that left the right side of her body semi-paralysed.  Not allowing herself to bow down to fate, she was able to self-train her muscles until she was able to walk once again.  A few years later, she had a fall and laid on her bedroom floor for three days before being discovered by a neighbour. 
 
About a month ago, on a Sunday, she fell again and there she sat, inmobile, for two days. She was whisked off to the hospital by a friend who visited her on Tuesday.  This time she suffered a broken arm and was in the hospital for more than two weeks before being moved to St. Luke's to recuperate.
 
My mother and I try to visit her every Saturday afternoon.  We would bring her a treat every time.  One week it was dim sum, another week kuih pie tee.  Whatever it was, we'd made sure it was loaded up with chilli because Aunt SS once commented that "all food tastes blend without chilli."
 
This week Mom finally decided that "all outside food is loaded with MSG and we should try to bring her something homemade".  So I made something similar to the "pizza" two weeks ago.  I used French toast (cubed) as base for my pizza, top it up with stir-fried veggies and cheeses, remembering to pack in lots of dried chilli flakes.
 
Aunt SS devoured two trays of this simple creation in one sitting.  I think it was the chilli that sold them in!
 

 
We've experienced at least a month of dry spell.  The sun was burning hotter than ever yesterday afternoon and Mom commented on how abundantly all the flowers are blooming this past month. Then today it finally rained!
 
 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Take the wrap



It’s TMD stressful having to support both ex and current (No, not boyfriends! Bosses! I mean bosses!) who are located in Europe and Asia respectively. When they both return to London next week, perhaps they should consider paying my salary in GBP while I work on London shift: 5PM to 2AM Singapore time, retire to bed at 7AM, wake up at 2PM ...

But I would hate to miss lunch so maybe it isn’t such a clever idea afterall.

Lunch time is the highlight of my day.  No matter how busy I am, I look forward to chilling out with my co-workers during lunch sessions.  During an especially hectic week, a few of us would bring our own lunch to the office. Usually it means reheating leftovers from the night before, or sandwiches thrown quickly together in the morning. This week I impressed my colleagues by making my own whole wheat wraps. I rolled out the dough into flat disks, placed them between plastic sheets and kept them in the fridge. Before I leave home in the morning, I’d remove a piece of dough from the fridge and quickly toast it on both sides in a frying pan. Fillings are usually fresh lettuce, tomato and boiled chicken breast, or a slice of turkey ham. The best part is: oiling the pan isn't necessary! Eating healthily has never been easier.

This afternoon I took a wrap and made a pizza out of it.  The toppings are simple - sliced fresh bell peppers and mushrooms, and two kinds of cheeses.





Preheat your oven at 200 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir-fry peppers and mushroom over medium heat until they soften. You may want to add a little salt to season.

Glaze wraps with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Place them on prepared baking sheet. Spread cooked bell peppers and mushrooms over the dough. Top with grated cheeses (I used Mozzarella and Cheddar).

Bake until cheeses are bubbly.

If you so desire, you can dust with dried Italian herbs or chilli flakes before serving it hot.



Homemade wraps are very versatile.  How about a calzone?



Don't have an oven? Let Masa show you how to make pizza over a stove.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All work and no ...

 
I'm sorry for the lack of buzz, folks.  I've been as busy as a bee. 
 
My endearing French boss has relocated to London to head up EMEA. Needless to say, I'm devastated! We've kept a really great working relationship for 8 years after all.  We'll have someone coming in from London to head up APAC.  I've heard many good things about my new boss so I'm sure I'll be fine.   For some reason, there is a lack of Executive Assistants in London at the moment so I’m helping both out during their transition. It’s like working two shifts – 9 to 6 on APAC, followed by 2 or 3 hours of EMEA work. I don't get out of the office, I pack lunch from home, I work and work, I seemingly have no life.  Absolutely crazy, if you think about it.
 
There’s the Regional Meeting in Hong Kong this week, which I spent a lot of time coordinating.  I won't get to travel to HK and I can't say I'm truly unhappy about it.  Still, it led me to miss my friends Anna, Ally, Cindy, Pearl and Tammy quite badly.  I also miss the homemade sesame cake, the 德成号家乡鸡蛋卷 , the roast goose, 菠萝包,蛋挞 … (sigh!)
 
But all is not lost! Salvation arrives the form of Chinese sausages from 荣华 Hong Kong. More accurately, from Jeremy who went to Hong Kong last week!  Who needs to go out and play when there are always good friends who bring endless supplies of good food? 

Never a dull moment, I tell you.
 

 

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Year of the Horse has arrived!

May the Year of the Horse bring you and yours peace, happiness and green pastures!
 
I went on the Internet to search for a Year of the Horse greeting to share with you and decided I like this Japanese postcard best.  I hope you'll enjoy it too.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Room Nineteen

Have you ever read “To Room Nineteen” by Doris Lessing? It’s about Susan Rawlings, a happily married woman who, in order to get some time alone, rents a hotel room every afternoon where she just sits and thinks.
 
I, too, want A Room Nineteen.  A secret apartment where I get to keep my sanity. Just for a few hours each Sunday. In my own piece of heaven.  No one will be invited.
 
Having spent two weeks with a big flu bug. I was looking forward to a restful weekend but it was not to be. My mother wanted to prepare for Chinese New Year. On Saturday, she dragged me to Chinatown. On Sunday, she wanted to clean. “No, we cannot wait for Lori to come in on Monday,“ she said. “She needs to change the curtains. You need to start by sweeping and dusting, ending with mopping. Remember, you need to apply the vacuum cleaner to that wall space behind the TV - it’s FILTHY! Then you need to change the bed sheet. And the kitchen light, I’m positively TERRIFIED of the kitchen light because it’s the hardest to clean …” Funny how she repeats same thing year after year. 

I still don't see how a kitchen light can induce such terror.  If I survive the CNY festivities, I shall replace our kitchen light with one simple, old-fashioned light bulb.
 
After lunch, my mother sent me out to buy batteries. For good measure, I was to buy batteries of different sizes.  I must've been delirious from cough medication because I remembered giggling to myself as I cross the street, “I think I may just topple over right here and a car would run me over.”

No such luck. I still have go through the pain of CNY preparations.
 
At home, I was sure I would've fallen into a deep slumber if my mother didn't suddenly screeched, “Can you get out here? Your father is having trouble changing the batteries in the remote control!” Really, one would think the sky was falling. I drifted into the living room to find both Mom and Dad sitting on the couch with the remote control, batteries and two screwdrivers. What’s with the screwdrivers, I enquired. “Oh, we couldn’t get it to slide open.”  I started to remove the old batteries.  "Can you place the old batteries FAAAAR away so that they don't get mixed with the new?!!"  Ah, the challenges we face each day.
 
My head was pounding hard.  I attempted to get into bed again but Mom wouldn't give up.

“Hey, do you want to eat apples?!”

 
 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Paris Treats

I'm fat and I blame my boss.  I really do.  He keeps foiling my diet plans.  Last month, he lured me with macarons from Lenotre. 


Today he brought with him macarons from Macarons Gourmands, Fauchon crepe cookies, and a selection of canistrelli from Corsica.  This is too much!




What have I done to deserve this?! ;)