Monday, June 30, 2008

P1 registration

Today is the start of the Primary 1 registration exercise. Phase 1 is for a child who has a sibling studying in a school of choice.

For me, princess will fall under Phase 2A1. For a child whose parent is a former student of the school and who has joined the alumni association as a member not later than 30 Jun 2007; or whose parent is a member of the School Advisory/Management Committee.

The most precious thing that my parents have given me is a good school foundation. And also the fact that I have a little girl instead of a boy. It makes sense as I come from a convent school and if I did have a son instead, I'd be lost now not knowing where to place him.

This is the time when most parents are panicking, trying their luck getting their kids to brand name schools and facing lots of stress. Many parents do volunteer work in order to give their kids a better chance of getting into these schools. It helps a little but at the end of the day it doesn't guarantee that they will be offered a place.

To all my friends out there who are trying their luck, I wish you all the best.

For more info on P1 registration, you can check here.


Hmmm... I can't be very sure about this one but I was just in Phoon Huat this morning and there was only one customer besides myself. While I was making my way to the shelf holding jelly moulds, I thought I saw the other lady slip something into her PH plastic bag. Well, I can't be sure that it really happened, maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me or maybe she was too quick. But it troubled me a little. It's not the first time I have witnessed such an incident but then again most of these people are really fast with their hands. I once spied a Jap lady do it, and even that time I couldn't be too sure.

What would you do if you were caught in such a situation?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bak Chang

This is one food item that I never learned to make from my grandma that I do regret. I remember as a kid, she used to make them every 5th month of the lunar calendar when the Chinese celebrate the Rice Dumpling Festival. And we could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I love zhang or 棕 子 (glutinous rice dumplings). And never tire of them. My favourite of all is Nonya zhang. The meat is sweet and there's very little fat.

However, as I grew older, I ate it less. It gives me indigestion and it's fattening. Hehe. So once in a blue moon, I pamper myself with it. This lot I happened to pick up last weekend while I was waiting for my take-out from Aston's and as it took forever, I took a wander to Kim Choo's a couple of doors away and picked up a couple.

Do you love zhang too? What fillings do you go for?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chicken with red dates and goji

I created this dish a few years ago. I used the red dates (to sweeten) and Chinese wolfberries or goji, firstly to add colour to the dish and secondly to reap the benefits of these tiny berries. Read here if you are keen to know how wolfberries benefit your body. Other than in soups, some people use them in desserts. The primary benefit as most of us know, is that it is good for the eyesight and lots of parents like to give this to their kids. I don't cook it very much, unfortunately, but I should make it a habit to incorporate it into the soups that I prepare.

For this chicken dish, I was trying to use up the celery in the fridge and some organic dried shittake. Thanks to the Wonderpets, my dear little one has no problems eating celery, once they are soft enough. Carrot is a favourite with her so I put that in. Plus it adds to the overall sweetness of the dish. And so do onions. I'm one for 'sweet' savoury food. My cousin says it's a Peranakan trait as she likes sweet savoury food too. I totally agree with her. My maternal grandma, who is Peranakan, when she used to cook, would season her chicken wings with that little bit of sugar as well. I do miss her cooking but she stopped cooking after my grandpa passed away, about 6-7yrs ago. It is really sad. I never really got to learn from her. I miss so much her chap chye, curry chicken, ayam buah keluak, prawn fritters, fried chicken wings and sambal belachan. My sis and I looked forward to each Chinese New Year when we would indulge in all the lovely food she presented before us. Her steamboat is to-die-for, using the stock from abalone and whatever ingredients she added to it. I never learned that too.

The food I cook is influenced more by my paternal grandma, who was Hokkien, as we grew up under her care.

Back to my dish, I do not have exact measurements so I will just list down what I used as a guide.

Ingredients -

2 chicken breasts, sliced into small pieces
3 sticks of celery, but at an angle into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 stick of carrot, sliced thinly
half an onions, cut up
2 inch piece of ginger
1 clove garlic
red dates
2 tsp goji - more or less is up to you

Seasoning for chicken -

oyster sauce
white pepper
dash of shao xing wine
sesame oil
cornstarch to thicken sauce

Method -

Saute onion till translucent. Add ginger, garlic and fry till fragrant. Add chicken and stir fry. Add all remaining ingredients except for goji. Pour in a cup of water and simmer till vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked. Add goji towards the end so they do not disintegrate. Serve hot with rice.

Taukwa with pork fillet

These days I'm really sick thinking of what to prepare for dinner. It's always the same few dishes and even though the family doesn't complain, I'm tired of them. So while in the market the other morning, I tried to get inspiration. It's quite tough as both of them have stuff that they do not like to eat, so it makes planning difficult. I'm sure it's a common problem with mums or wives who prepare dinner. You ask the family what they would like to eat, and their answer is always 'don't know' or 'anything'. And when you present the food to them, they will say they don't like that. Sigh. It's a lose-lose situation.

I took a chance with this taukwa and sliced pork fillet in dark sauce. Hubby doesn't eat tofu and princess doesn't like meat. However, hubby surprised me by finishing it! Hmm... ok. That's good news. I can add it to the menu now. :)

Ingredients -

Pork or chicken fillet, sliced thinly
one piece taukwa, cut into smaller pieces
spring onions, sliced thinly

Seasoning for meat -

dark sauce
white pepper
sesame oil
corn starch

Method -

Fry garlic till fragrant and add meat. Next add taukwa and water, approximately half a cupful or more depending on your preference. Add salt to taste. Simmer for a few minutes and it's done. Add spring onions and mix them in. Ready to serve.

Some kind soul

I can't believe that there really are kind people in Singapore, but the ending to the story is that hubby got his phone back. There is no way to find out who the person is, but whoever he/she is, thank you so so much. We suspect it is someone working around the Pasir Panjang area as he most probably dropped it before he got on the bus to come home. That certain someone would have taken the mrt from Harbourfront station and made his/her way to the central police station which is actually quite a distance from Outram mrt. Please know that if you ever come across this posting, that we are ever-so-grateful to you.

It's not the first time that he has dropped this phone of his. When it was only a day old, we were going to catch the fireworks at the Esplanade area and it was so crowded with hardly any space to walk. Princess was younger (and lighter) then and he had carried her through the thick crowd to avoid her being trampled on. Not long after he had picked her up, he felt for his pouch and got a shock to find that it was no longer attached to his belt. Now, the problem with this pouch is that it doesn't go through the belt, but rather clips onto it. He had the shock of his life, and with a new mobile costing hundreds of $$, he was very sure that he'd never see it again. It's literally a needle in a haystack. When my dad realised what was happening, he said he had picked up a mobile phone a little distance back, and not knowing who it belonged to, had given it in at a restaurant along the way in case the owner came back for it. Who is to know that the owner was none other than his own son-in-law. And who would have thought that we'd see the phone again. That was really so so lucky, and now this. I told him that this phone is meant to be his and that he should take very good care of it. Even if he changes to a new one, he should keep it for sentimental reasons and not trade it in. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lost handphone

Hubby came home this evening in a fluster. He wouldn't talk to anyone the minute he stepped into the house but headed straight for the phone. In a rush, he said that he dropped his mobile. He had realized it upon alighting the bus and instinctively reached for it in the pouch. But it wasn't there! Having looked around the area where he was standing, he didn't have any luck locating it.

So when he made that phone call from home to his mobile, some guy picks it up (good news there, as most people who pick up phones switch them off and pocket them), and hubby identifies himself. And proceeds to ask guy who he was. He said he was from the Central Police Station. Hmm... wow, a kind soul in Singapore who actually hands over a mobile phone to the police? Miracle. Well, of course I wouldn't say that every one who picks up a phone is dishonest, but an honest person is in the minority.

So after dinner he went all the way to the Central Police Station, which is like 45mins away, and comes home without his mobile. What?! Meanwhile I've sent like 3 smses to him but they didn't go through. I was starting to worry. Oh no, maybe it was a trap. Where is he now? He should have gotten his phone by now (that was like almost 2hrs since he went out), why isn't it switched on?? All kinds of funny thoughts were going through my mind. Well, it seems the 'lost and found' section was closed. They only operate during office hours. Can you believe that?! All that time wasted. It was partly his fault but who is to know there is a special department to collect such stuff? I also started getting suspicious... hmmm... maybe the guy who answered the call wasn't really the police?? There is only one thing to do... wait for tomorrow to know the ending...

Sushi anyone?

This is my latest handiwork which I spent (altogether) half a day doing. Do you like it? I took this with me on my travels recently but came back with them still in their packaging. Why is that so? Well, silly me couldn't find the needle in the packet (excuses excuses). I thought it'd give me something to do while I was in Ireland but I read a lot instead. So no time for sewing. :P

I wouldn't say I made a great job of it, and it's not helped by the fact that the patterns used for cutting out the shapes weren't exactly accurate. I did a bit of amendments here and there and was relatively pleased with the end result. The tray was supposed to be round but the pattern for the sides were not long enough such that it allowed the strips to be wrapped around the base to form a perfect circle. It was only while I was sewing it that I realized the fault. But it was apparently too late and I wouldn't have had enough material to make changes.

This set of sushi is not made for me.. it was made specially for a friend and I hope she likes it. :)

Lunches and Jelly

With leftover rice, I made a simple fried rice, together with some chicken bak kwa and a little cup of jelly, assembled a bento to take to a committee meeting over the weekend. Princess was accompanying me and I knew that the food they were bringing would not suit her. We are in the midst of preparing for a funfair (organised by her ballet school), and these committee meetings are also an excuse to have potluck parties. Hehe. At the first meeting, there was a mountain of foodstuff and too much leftover so the teacher said not to bring any more food the next time, that she'd pick stuff up instead. But bear in mind, this Mrs loves to feed people so we still have loads of leftovers each time. Haha!

The weather is driving me nuts. So these few days I've been making jelly: both the jell-o kind and konnyaku. I didn't realize that I don't have any konnyaku moulds so made do with the agar agar ones. Here is a bear and a rabbit. The bear is obvious but can you make out the rabbit? There is also the carp.

Ham & lettuce sandwiches, with grapes, tomatoes and milk for a healthy lunch. Plus a cup of lime jell-o and sliced golden kiwi. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Out from hiding

Hello everyone, sorry to have gone missing for so long. But I've only been on the mend recently. It's actually a week and a half since my return and my voice is slowly coming back. It's not completely healed but I can't be in hiding forever. So just this week, I have actually met up with a mum from school, and we've gone back to swimming and ballet classes. It was tough at first as I was utterly miserable last week, not having the energy, both fighting the very strong virus as well as the time difference. Princess was sleeping till 10-11am, and one day she woke up at 1.30pm! That is virtually unheard of and if anyone knows her well, she's one child who hates to sleep and will put off sleeping till her eyes are closing and she's still resistant to it. Hehe. I was a bit sceptical about her going back to school this week but decided that I had to be cruel and wake her up at the appointed time and I guess by doing that, she'd revert to her original body clock quicker. And she did, no problem at all.

While I was ill last week, there was one person I absolutely needed to meet as she was due to go home to Perth today and we had made plans before we both went on our holidays. Her schedule was chock-a-block full when she was here so it wouldn't have been nice to change plans else we might not have had the chance to meet. She's none other than the very lovely Daphne. Unfortunately I wasn't able to speak much to her during our meeting. My little ambassador did most of the talking and the entertaining and she even wrote some love letters to Auntie Daphne. Sometimes I wonder, they seem more like her friends than they are mine. Hahaha. Same went for sohcool when they met in Paris. I would have very much liked to catch up with Daphne this time but maybe on her next visit home, we might get the chance.

I didn't start cooking till this week, and here's some stuff I prepared.

Above - Seaweed chicken, steamed chicken lap cheong (Chinese sausage), tomatoes, fuzhou fishball and seaweed soup, plus a serving of golden kiwi.

While I was nursing my very sore throat, I was only up for soupy stuff so for lunch I made bee tai mak yong tau fu soup. We also had raspberries, blueberries and golden kiwi for our dessert. The raspberries were very expensive at $10.50 per punnet but princess insisted on having them. Blueberries are now in season and cost approx $3.50 a punnet. Guess it's time to bake some blueberry muffins. :) But problem is that wheat prices are climbing and goodness, have you seen the price of a block of butter in the past few months??? Exhorbitant! I think these days we really need an occasion to do some baking.

The day after our return, we had to take princess to have her sushi fix. In Dublin, we came across a sushi place and the cheapest plate which we pay $1.99 here, was 2.95euros. That works out to be over $6 in our currency. It was madness! We refused to pay that price, so despite the crying and protests, we had to steer away from there and promised a visit to a sushi restaurant upon our return. While in Plaza Singapura, naturally I had to pay a short visit to my favourite store - Daiso! ;) This is what I came home with.

For dinner last evening, I made some sushi for princess. Of course she couldn't finish everything.

The tamagoyaki which I bought from Cold Storage was horrendous and I had to throw the packet away. It just tasted awful, full of moisture. I believe they weren't very fresh. Macarons were from Bakerzin when we had lunch at Vivo on Thursday. Having fallen in love with macarons on her visit to Paris, she now has a soft spot for them. Haha. Her all-time favourite flavour is berries, be it blueberries, strawberries or mixed berries. On that particular day they didn't make blueberries and she was greatly disappointed. She made do with a chocolate hazelnut and some flavour which tasted like rose although the staff had told her it was strawberry. Hmmm....

Thank you all for your well-wishes while I was ill. I won't reply individually, but you know who you are. Thanks for your thoughts. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back from hols

Hi all, am back, but totally in bits. Lost my voice completely and really suffering now so will not be back in action for a while. Catch up when I'm better.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cupcakes and Curry

We bought a packet of these ready cupcake mix to make for Sunday. But there weren't enough for the many kids so we made them yesterday afternoon instead, and took them to the cousins 2 doors away. They were real easy and fuss-free to make. Love the little icings on them.

I made dinner last night as mil was in work till 9pm. My trip is not complete without me cooking curry at least once before I leave to go home. I love visiting the supermarket in every country that I visit. I love to see the things they have to offer and the many interesting products on the shelves. The choice of curries was mind-boggling. There was such a wide variety and I couldn't decide which to test out. I did not want anything that didn't taste like curry, and eventually ended up with Patak's Madras as it looked a nice dark brown, not a faint yellow colour. I decided to go for the medium/hot one as it looked authentic enough. It also helped that I went for the brand that was made in UK rather than in Ireland cos I knew they were known for their Indian food there. I also picked up pilau rice which had been cooked with saffron. It was lovely and so easy to cook. Just cut a hole and popped it in the micro for 2mins and it was done! I added potatoes and evaporated milk to the curry and let it simmer for ages.

Taking out all the odds and ends of vegetables from the fridge so I could clear them off before I left, I made a stirfry with oyster sauce.

Hubby and princess are too used to the way we eat vegetables in Singapore, which is not overly-cooked and soggy or mashed, like how the Irish like theirs. Rather we like them crunchy and lightly stir-fried. Both of them couldn't get used to the broccoli that they serve in the restaurants and I had to remind hubby that he once used to eat them. Haha!

The curry did not disappoint and it was as authentic as it got. It was really spicy, the way I liked it, but the minute I tasted it, I knew fil would have had a problem with it. I diluted it with evaporated milk, and quite a bit of water, as well as some sugar to lessen the spiciness, but it didn't help very much. However, he still finished everything that was on his plate.

The party

We had a party last Sunday and most of the family came. Mil made ham and baked chickens (as there weren't any turkeys to be found in the supermarkets, don't know why). Sil prepared two lasagnes and I made potato salad as well as egg mayonnaise. I also made a bread and butter pudding which didn't turn out all that well. It was because I had kind of almost doubled the recipe and baked it all together so the middle took ages to bake, plus I am not familiar with the oven here. I didn't serve that but instead we ate it ourselves the day after. It wasn't too bad except the top was ugly. Salad, coleslaw, garlic bread and most things were all ready from the supermarket, including the ready-seasoned chicken parts. They was plenty of food leftover and there's still chicken in the fridge.

Monday was a bank holiday here and while we waited for the castle to be collected in the afternoon, which turned into evening, the aunt living two doors away from us came by with her little grandchildren and we made the most out of that day as well. We had some lovely little cupcakes.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Going home

Thanks all for your kind wishes on our anniversary. This should be my last post from Ireland for now, unless I have time later, will update. Woohoo, so happy to be going home. (And yes, KY, I was not joking when I said I wasn't home yet!) I don't like living out of a suitcase for too long. You just can't settle. We have to leave the house very early tomorrow morning, and I guess it helps that it's summer and it gets bright early. What I'm not looking forward to is the flying. I feel all miserable confined in the little seat for 13hrs, but it should be shorter cos of the tail wind going back and fingers crossed, no delays.

Princess has been having a nasty cough and blocked/running nose for a week and I hope that it willd get better when we get home. Hubby had it last week but he's over it, and I got a bit of a sore throat this morning. She's missing school, her teachers and friends now, and all ready to go home. We have an additional luggage even though we had come with one full and an empty one. Sigh. But that always happens and it's worse at Christmas, trust me. On our last trip, we went home with 6-7 baby dolls and a toy pram!

See you soon, from my home (sweet home). :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

9 years on...

Today we celebrate 9 yrs of married life. It's scary to think. We're also 9 yrs older. Yikes! Even scarier thought. But we have a precious little girl we can be proud of. We've had our ups and downs but nothing too serious.

I pray for blessings for the rest of our married life, that it'll stay the way it's been. Happy Anniversary, dearest.