Sunday, December 26, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
I recently met someone who was home schooled for many years, and although he didn't have much friends as he claimed, he had vast general knowledge, I dare say more than the kids who actually go to school. Even Rachel was impressed. I realised that home study was a lot better than going to school for this friend of mine. He didn't have to keep to a regular curricular. Sometimes he studied 6 hours, sometimes 3 hours. He had good time to balance work and play, do the things he liked to do still like travel and read, and still passed his exams. What a great arrangement.
The stress levels in school kids have definitely shot up in the last few years. Suicide statistics have also increased amongst school children. Which brings our education system into question. What has society become? Have we forgotten to let children BE children? I remember we used to have a huge garden in school where we'd play, and one day we witnessed a butterfly laying her eggs on the leaves of the bushes in the garden. Over the next few weeks, we saw the whole life cycle of a butterfly: from egg, to caterpillar to cocoon, to butterfly! All this from playing! My sister Rachel, knows about the life cycle too from the textbooks she reads. Still, it's different having lived to see it, and having just read it in the books. It doesn't come alive. Maybe that's why it's always been my dream to live in a house with a garden (very expensive goal in Singapore - but still a goal nevertheless!). I think my children would be able to learn a lot more that way; through their five senses.
I feel so much for children who're sent for psychiatric help by their parents when the cause of their problems IS their parents. These precious children are slaved by their parents on their academics. They spend more than half the day in school, and then they come back and spend the rest of the day with their private tutor. Don't get me wrong. I think education is good. But I also believe in striking a balance.
Rachel used to hate school.It's ironic because she was the smartest kid in school. But according to her, the expectations loaded on her then at her age were a bit too much for her to cope. She was good in some things because she had an interest in them at first. But then the teachers in school, not understanding that normal school curricular was already a heavy load, started to push her for competition after competition. They were all wanting to "help her develop her gift". She ended up entering way too many competitions for her to handle, and she never had time to play, or rest, or sleep even, or just do nothing and watch TV like we used to, or just call a friend up for a chat or laugh. She started to get depressed, and unhappy, and even started to hate going to school. Again, it's good to enroll in competitions, but it's not good when you're practicing during your school holidays for these competitions to a point where there doesn't seem to be a holiday. It's just sad when we're overworking these children but we don't even spend that much time at work ourselves!
I get really angry and upset when I hear of parents sending their children to a psychiatrist. Why be so quick to label them as 'having issues' when you don't even take the time to try to understand them or what they're going through? Perhaps the ones that need psychiatric help are the parents. Some traditions should be broken. Some parents teach their children that without good grades, they will go no where. Who ever said that was true?! Most of the successful people running million dollar companies did not complete school. Bill Gates is one example. They probably got that story from their parents and their parents heard that from their parents. Other traditions should be created. Like having family meals together. I think communing together is a very intimate thing, and it helps you to communicate with one another and fellowship. I believe taking the time to do this would help parents understand their children a lot better; to see the world through their children's eyes. Which is why, not matter how tired I am from work, I still try my best to make it a point to cook daily. If we don't take that time each day to sit and eat together, then the only times we can do that would be the weekends, since we spend most of our time at the office with our colleagues already. And that's nothing compared to the lifetime we will be spending together. That's not how I want to live my life either. Some of my other colleagues don't have any issues having dinner by themselves. The only time they get to spend time with their husbands is over the weekends. I'm not judging, but I don't understand that either. Doing an activity together doesn't mean you're really communicating with one another and getting to know one another. Watching a movie does not require any interaction, even through you're watching it WITH someone. It just boggles my mind.
Children are meant to be loved not manipulated to do the things you want them to do to feed your own ego.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I have never fished in my life before, so when they gave us this pot of live worms, I didn’t know what to do with it. Min, being the prawning veteran that she is already, tore up the worms into little pieces with her bare hands. EEEEEEEW! I couldn’t. I just get too squirmy.
So anyway, we paid $26 for 2 hours, and caught a total of 48 shrimps! They’re huge ones too. Apparently they’re not like fish where they just bite into the bait. The prawns first hold on to the bait and then swim around a little to a place they feel is safe, before they bite into the bait. So we let them take the bait and follow them around as they swim and wait for the bite before we pull them up.
I had a lot of fun overall. What did we do with the shrimps?
We went to the hawker nearby, ordered claypot noodles with shrimp, rice noodles with shrimp, and steamed garlic shrimp, but gave him our bag of prawns. What a feast!!! Your own catch always tastes better.Very satisfying indeed.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Panda has this odd love for my facial cotton tissue bag. I don't know why. It's like his favourite play thing at the moment. I disapprove of course, since it's used to wipe my face, and it ain't nice wiping your face with cotton that's been dragged all over the floor smelling of cat drool. He knows it the little sneak! First time, I let him at it, and he really went all out on that poor little bag.
Second time he knew I was watching, so he took a different route/approach to sneak himself to get to the bag. I have videos of this but I can't seem to load them up.
Third time I caught him, and that was it. This time he had taken the route BEHIND the curtains where he thought I wouldn't see him. He was so busted. Tattered but still salvageable this facial tissue bag goes into the drawer where his little paws can't get to. I'd have to be careful though. They KNOW how to open drawers when you don't close them proper. I found mouse one morning sleeping his head off in one of our drawers. Apparently, either Julien or I had taken something out of it the night before and forgot to fully close it so there was a tiny gap. Mouse had conveniently opened the drawer, and climbed in for a snooze.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
This gave Jimme and Yihmay inspiration for a funny face. Then Yihmay asked me to give it a go.
Then Jimme recommended a photo taking method with flash that captures fast moving objects at an instant. He showed us how it was done by vibrating his lips.
Then we decided to have a competition. On who can do the funniest face. We did this by capturing our profiles while shaking our heads really fast from left to right.
I never used to like garlic, or onions, the two most essential ingredients used in almost all dishes, which I only started to realise when I started cooking. It's hard to make someone like something they already don't like, let alone eat it. But I also discovered through my own experience that, it's not that a person does not like to eat something, it's because it's just not cooked to suit this person's taste.
I was at a restaurant with my parents and I had the most wonderful dish in my life (at that time). Every mouthful was dancing on my tongue as the flavours fused themselves in my mouth each time I took a bite. I looked back at the menu... GARLIC CHICKEN!!! WOT??!! There's GARLIC in this thing?!!! But I remembered garlic, the first time I tried it I don't know where. It tasted SO bad in that dish I spat out the contents in my mouth. So why did I like the garlic that was in this dish? It's because I could not taste it. It was cooked long enough for the garlic to just melt into the dish. Same goes with onions. I LOVE onion soup. Doesn't make any sense to me because it's a bowl filled with onions. BUT, they're so soft, I didn't know they were onions. I thought they were cabbage ( I was little). Give me a pasta dish heavily dressed with garlic that I can taste and smell now, and I'd still start to pick them out of my dish.
So when it came to Rachel, my baby sister, I could understand why she didn't want to eat her greens. They just simply did not taste good to her. Plus, she could see that there was garlic in her food. Hence, she wouldn't even want it knowing she would be able to taste garlic. I did an experiment on her. She's a lot like me, and I know how I like my food cooked, so I did the same for her. I made her pasta with lots of onions and garlic, but I diced them so small, and cooked them so long with some good chicken broth that she likes, and served it to her. She couldn't see them, couldn't smell them, couldn't taste them. So she ate it all. I asked her after if it was good, and she said yes. So she does like garlic and onions. She just doesn't like to taste them raw or semi raw. This experience I went through with Rachel, would also come in handy some time down the road. I just didn't know it yet. =)
Julien I found out, likes his greens in salads, fresh. Once they're cooked, he starts to pick them out. With mushrooms, as long as he can taste or smell it, he wouldn't eat it. The two phenomenons I've observed since day 1. Then I realised, when I'd ask him to try to have some greens, he'd take the leafy parts and leave the stems, because ' the stems are too hard'. That's the solution. The carrots, onions, garlic, and asparagus you see in this picture have zero crunch factor. They're not cooked to mush, but they're really really soft when you bite into them. With mushrooms, I only managed to get him to eat it once by accident. When I made chawanmushi. This is a savoury egg custard with chicken chunks/seafood and mushrooms. He ate it mushrooms and all because he could not smell or taste the mushroom even though he could see it. It's funny, because when we go to Japanese restaurants and we order chawanmushi, he still picks out the mushroom. So then I realised what was different. Chawanmushi is a very quick and simple dish to make. Once you have everything combined, it only takes less than 5 mins to cook. That day I made the chawanmushi, I could not find the lid when I steamed it, and hence it took me about 30mins just to steam the egg up. So maybe I cooked it long enough for the mushroom smell and taste to disappear. I don't know, I'm just guessing. This still remains a mystery to me because I haven't made him any mushroom dish since. But it's really interesting how our five senses work.
All this just to tell you the black pepper chicken thigh we had on the side for dinner was good. =)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Oyakodon is a dish that I like to make quite often. It's simple and fast to cook; simply, chicken and egg over rice. I don't usually follow to the tee, the recipes I use, because if I did, then my kitchen would be a tiny convenience store with all kinds of ingredients from all over the world. So I tend to use what I already have in the kitchen and improvise from there. For example, I don't use sake, dashi, or mirin, that are commonly used in Japanese cooking. I use a lot of oyster sauce, soya sauce and chicken stock which I have at home. And it works just as well. Hence, Oyakodon with a twist. Here's how:
1 whole white onion (sliced thinly)
2 cups of white rice
4 eggs (beaten. To get light and fluffy texture, do not beat the eggs too much.)
1 tbsp of garlic (or however much you like)
1 tbsp of oyster sauce (or more if you like)
1 tbsp of soya sauce
100ml chicken stock
170g chicken breast or thigh cut into bite sized pieces (or whatever amount you feel is enough for yourself and your family. Some eat more than others).
pepper to taste
Cook the steamed rice
Marinate the chicken with the oyster sauce and some pepper to taste
1. In a large skillet/pan, saute the onions till they caramelise.
2. Add garlic, chicken stock and soya sauce, and put the lid on for about 2-3 mins.
3. Add the chicken pieces and put the lid back on again. Turn the chicken pieces over every now and then.
4. After the chicken is cooked, slowly add 2/3 of the slightly beaten egg. Stir lightly and cover with the lid.
5. Let it simmer for about 10 secs, and add the rest of the beaten egg. Put the lid back on, turn off the heat, and let the ingredients sit for 15secs.
6. Serve the topping over hot rice in a bowl.
7. Top with Parsley or Japanese seaweed. Whichever suits your taste better.
Note: This recipe is supposed to be a little sweet but Julien and I prefer it savoury. Hence, we omitted the sugar altogether. However, you can add it according to your taste preference.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
So, I packed for ALL occasions.
My Saturday started out nice already since The Yeti was going to meet me after my French classes, which is rare, so he could take me to the secret location. The anticipation was overwhelming yet it was so exciting for me. I was actually more happy that Julien took the time to plan out a surprise for me! =)
As we rode on east, I was really trying to guess where he would turn, or in which general direction he was going. He knew I was going to do that, SO he took a really long detour to our destination just so I would not be able to guess before hand. Anyways, we finally pulled up at the Changi Village Hotel. I was ecstatic!
What a good break from the unpacking and organising of the house. We totally took advantage of our stay and sat by the pool almost all day. And the next day, since we missed breakfast, we decided to have a nice buffet brunch instead.
Thank you Yeti!!!!!
Until we found this other restaurant along Princep Street, whose French owner is also our friend. Nicholas is his name, and this is as close as it gets to better than average crepe that we've had so far. There's even cider!
That was our Friday date night! Who wants to stop dating after marriage?!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
We have a guest room now!! Yippee!!!!
Sidenote: I want to say, the ikea delivery people were wonderful! There was no way I could shift the cupboard where I wanted it, since it was pretty heavy, and they did it for me! they even realised that the screws in the cupboard had not been screwed on, so they did it for us too! There was a cupboard door that was not fixed right so it wouldn't open or close properly, and it had a screw or two missing, Guess what? They fixed it for us! I'm very impressed!!! So impressed we turned on the air conditioning for them while they worked the fix the cupboard, shift out the single bed that was in the room, shift in the sofa bed, and fix it. We also gave them as much ice cold water as they wanted, and we tipped them in the end even though we didn't really need to. Somehow, it just felt right. We had a really good feel about these two guys that delivered the couch to us.=)
I'd like to show you the rest of the house, but it's still in a huge mess. Patience!!!
Monday, September 27, 2010
I still have leftover food from the bbq. Mainly chicken chops, so I make chicken tortilla for dinner today. I'm really thinking about making a sign that says "Ting's Lab" for the kitchen in our new place. It would be fun!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Since I had already made rice not too long ago, I didn't want to make white rice again, so I initially decided to make white porridge. But to be honest, I've never really made porridge before in my life, so I didn't really know what proportion of rice to water, and how much rice even to have for 2 servings. Embarrassing to admit, because I am Asian and it's a staple in our meal. I tried to google the proportions for porridge, and apparently it was 1 cup of rice to 10 cups of water. I put 2 cups of rice since I usually make 1 cup of rice for 1 serving. That means I need to put in 20 cups of water. No problemo. Only, my tiny rice cooker was filled to the brim by the 11th cup. Where do I put the other 9 cups of water?!?! Okay, you know what, heck. Forget it. I'll just make rice. But I don't want to do white rice again. It's boring.
After some thinking, I made corn rice!!! YUP! Steamed the corn, took out the corn bits from the core and popped it into cooked rice. The result. PERFECT!
Chicken in bbq sauce.
It was a good dinner, and Julien finished all the rice! The greatest satisfaction when you cook for others is when they finish your food! =) Ahh, all in a day's work in the kitchen.
We decided to get out of our chalet and do something else altogether. We had a few free entry tickets to a carnival nearby and another water theme park. So we did just that. We went to the theme park first and were impressed by the rides. There was the pirate's ship, a roller coaster, haunted house, water boat slides, go cart, etc. The catch was, these rides were for 10 year olds. But heck! We went on them anyway. It was nice to be 10. Who wants to be a grown up all the time? We don't.
The water theme park was really fun too. There were some really crazy slides, and rides that popped your heart right up your throat. One slide we really had fun on was this thing that was made to look like the ramps that skateboarders go up and down on. This one was a mega ramp. What you do is you sit on this tiny little boat like float and they push you down this ramp. What an adrenaline rush! When you're standing watching the others go on it, you think, piece of cake. But when we actually went on it, it was unexpectedly, scarily fun! Truly an adult's ride! Julien always has this funny laughter when he sits on scary rides. So I know when the ride is actually scary, he starts laughing like a hyena. He's really more scared but he tries to cover it with a laugh, and ta-da! The hyena laugh is birthed. It's one of these laughs that make you either laugh with him or at him. Whichever way, he spreads joy and laughter around. With this ride, he was so working that laugh I couldn't help but laugh through that whole ride too!
After all those adrenaline pumping rides, we came back hungry and started the grill. This time it was just two of us. I asked Julien if he had fun during his party and if he was happy. I was expecting a yes I'm happy, but he told me he was actually disappointed. He was disappointed that most of the guests left really early. And when it was time to open his presents, his colleagues were in a corner playing cards through out. They didn't participate. They didn't really seem to care apart from food, and drinks.
You know how when you watch a documentary and they show footage of poor, dying children, and there's usually this knot in your chest that you feel? Well, I felt it that evening after hearing what he told me. It's not pity, or sympathy, or empathy. I think I was more sad for Julien, in a melancholic sort of way. A little bit upset too. It was true what he said. Those with children left early. That's understandable. Their kids had to sleep. Would we be like this when we're parents one day? The others, well they kind of just left after eating and mingling a little. It's like at our wedding, when some of our guests left even before the wedding ended. They left even before Julien cut his cake. I do see more positive in this party though. Everyone turned up! More than 20 over people in fact to celebrate Julien's birthday. They came for him. Some friends actually had prior engagements which they had to attend, and they could've just told us they weren't coming, but they came anyway, even if it was just for a short while just to wish Julien happy birthday in person - that really meant a lot to us. The group that played cards, in comparison to the rest that participated in his present opening, was negligent. True, majority did not stay past midnight with us, but it was still nice that they came. And it's not like we were alone in the chalet past midnight, just the two of us. There were still people arriving, and they stayed and talked till really late too. It's just not really a Singaporean thing to stay out till 7am or 8am the next day (I don't doubt there are some who do it, but the majority don't). We don't live 3hrs away from each other. Home from anywhere in Singapore is just 30mins away by foot, train, bus or taxi. So staying over after a party is not really in our culture either. Something Julien cannot really get used to. He still thinks French in Singapore at times. We went to bed around 6am, which meant our last guests left about that time too. Pretty good for a party I would say.
In my opinion, I think Julien just really missed home. As we were talking still, the phone rang. What perfect timing. It was Sylvain who called to wish him Happy Birthday. Straight away Julien's face lit up. They chatted for a long time. And when he finally hung up, he was a happy Yeti again! Only he "missed home a lot more but it was good to hear Sylvain's voice". So, Thank You Sylvain!!!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The party was a huge success! Everyone turned up to celebrate the Yeti's post birthday! I had packed everything for this party, except the camera, which I had specifically left in a corner on the table in plain sight so I would not forget to take it with me. But I still forgot it. Thank goodness Jimme brought his. Pictures are all compliments of Jimme's camera. Don't know why but this year, Julien received a lot of toys. No kidding. There was even a present wrapped in 'Toys R Us' wrapping. Hilarious!
One thing we took away from this party, was the food. No, I did not over order. What happened was, somehow, people told us that they had been to barbecues before where there's always never enough food to go round. So they ate before they came. Now why they did that, I don't know. But hey, I don't care! It was still a great party. And the Yeti had a good time. What happened to the food? Well, I gave my part time maid, Lucy, a big container of chicken curry, a bag of otah (spicy fish paste grilled over a fire), some chicken wings, a few sambal chilli marinated stingrays, corn, and a big box of bread to go with the curry. She left happy. I also gave some chicken curry, and stingray to my parents too. After all that, I was still left with a box of 20 chicken wings, 20 shrimps, 10 chicken chops, 50 sticks of beef satay, some stingray, some corn, the leftovers of chicken curry, and dessert. In addition, I had accidentally ordered 3 containers of lime. Oh, and did I mention, someone bought us a box of doughnuts that were untouched? Thank goodness we did not have any leftover cake. It was so good everyone finished it. "Cake" this year for Julien was a pear flan, big enough to feed 16-20 people.
So first thing I did when we got home; I made lime juice! It's like lemonade but with lime. That was the end of those 3 containers. Monday evening, we had chicken curry noodles for dinner. Basically, pop some instant noodles in hot water and cook them till al dente. Throw out the seasoning that comes with the noodles, heat left over chicken curry and pour over noodles! It was so simple I made dinner in about 10 mins. Fastest record ever. Tuesday evening, we had white rice, with oven toasted stingray, chicken wings, and corn. Chinese style! With our bowls and chopsticks. I made this meal in about 30 mins. Today, it was garlic prawn pasta drizzled with lemon juice and cheese shavings. So far so good!
I'm not sure if you know, but we'll be moving end of September, so the food will be able to last us for more than a week. I'm really excited about our new place! The building on the outside looks a bit older than the current one we're in, but it's a lot more spacious, and definitely better on the inside of the flat compared to our current flat. I'm Psyched! New place, new ideas, new decorating to do. We're probably going to just buy a few furniture, i.e. cupboard, and bed for the guestroom. Finally! An extra room!
The party ended at about 6am with a really wasted and tired, but happy Yeti.
Happy Post Hatch Day Yeti!