Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Well said!

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”
- Meryl Streep
My sentiments exactly!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Say Cheese

前两天马来同事为斋戒准备了好几款饼干,其中芝士饼是让大家最回味的。回家自己学着做,没料到母亲比我更爱吃。  也难怪,鬆脆、咸香中带有微辣,有几个人抗拒得了?今晚用爱心烘焙出黄金芝士饼,guarantee 你吃上一口便难以自拔。

Cheddar Crackers
Makes 40

250 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
200 grams salted butter, chilled, cut into 1.5 cm cubes
125 grams sharp Cheddar, grated
3 tablespoons ice water

Place the flour, salt, baking powder, dried Italian herbs and dried chilli flakes in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk lightly to combine.  Add the butter cubes and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour.  You should have a floury mix through which you can see pea-sized pieces of butter. 

Add the grated cheese and toss through.  Then add the ice water.  Use your hands to form the mixture into a ball.  Turn out onto a clean surface and shape it into a 35-cm log.  Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven at 200 degrees C.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the log of dough from the fridge and cut into 1-cm thick slices.  Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Not a trace of doubt

I'm in love with no-knead breads.  All thanks to this fantastic recipe for No-Knead Focaccia.  Take a look at the beautiful crust, the large, irregular hole structure and you'll see why now I'm a believer

It's so simple even a 4-year old can do it!  First, you dump all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, give the mixture a few stirs to combine.  Then simply covered the bowl and leave it at room temperature overnight.

Don't be alarmed by the gooey mass that smells just a little bit odd. It only means that the yeast was hard at work last night while you were fast asleep.

Here are the steps to making No-Knead Focaccia:

Day 1 @approx. 8PM
1.  Put the flour, instant yeast salt and dried rosemary in a large mixing room.  Give the ingredients a whisk to combine.
2.  Add the water all at once.  Using a spatula, stir everything together until the water is absorbed.
3.  Cover the mixing bowl and leave it to rest, undisturbed, for 12 to 18 hours for the yeast to do work its magic.  Room temperature is fine, you don't need to put it in the fridge.

Day 2 @1PM
1.  Preheat your oven at 230 degrees C.
2.  Pour about 1/4 cup of your best olive oil into a baking pan.
3.  Turn the super sticky dough from the mixing bowl into the baking pan.
4.  Using your fingers gently press dimples into the dough.  Minimum handling, please!
5.  I like to sprinkle the top of the dough with coarse sea salt at this point.
6.  Cover the baking pan with a sheet of tin foil and send it into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
7.  Remove the foil and bake it for a further 20 minutes.

The easiest bread recipe ever!

Bread dough: 3 cups bread flour, 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, 1.5 cups water
Topping: 1/4 cup olive oil, coarse sea salt

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"I have the kitchen"

What do you do when your Mom relinquishes control of the kitchen for a few hours?  I don't know about you, but I thought it would be a good time to finally make Pork and Fennel Sausage Rolls from Bourke Street Bakery: The Ultimate Baking Companion!  

Mom decided that she would take a break from cooking this evening and opting to have durian for dinner.  Yes, you heard me right - durian for dinner.  For Dad and I, who shuddered at the thought of surviving on durians alone, these sausage rolls became substantial snacks before the durian party.

They were superb.  I love the hints of thyme, fennel and garlic.  Though I secretly feel that they'll be even better if spiked with paprika, or dried chill flakes! The recipe says to bake them until "they are a golden brown roll of steaming, oozing goodness".  I think I've managed to do that!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crazy Times

During the last week of May, Tammy travelled from Hong Kong to celebrate my 50th birthday. (How sweet!) It’s hard to believe that more than a month has gone by since. 

It is getting harder to find time for myself these days. After Tammy returned to HK, Mom insisted that we go to Pasir Panjang Wholesale Market to buy dried seafood for my cousin Mary. As soon as I got home, I came down with fever and stomach flu, and spent Sunday feeling weak and nauseous. 

I was beginning to fear that the heat wave was going to last forever! Then - surprise, surprise - the weather started to turn a little cooler and I thought I might start baking again but then the weekend filled up quickly with errands to run and a dreaded trip to the dentist. The hole is now dug - in this Friday’s diary - for wisdom tooth extraction (gulp!) 

Dad needed some sleeveless cotton vests. China’s Swan brand has stopped producing the design that he has been used to all his life. What an outrage, right? Last Saturday Mom and I finally found something similar in a small shop in Chinatown. You would think that having found something after a massive search, we’d buy at least a dozen back but no, we should buy only one. Only if Dad is happy with it that we buy more. That’s the problem with living with a bi-polar 阿伯.

Dad acknowledged (grudgingly) the fact that all things come to pass and he’ll now have to make do with Crocodile brand vests. So on Sunday off I skipped again to Chinatown. This time to buy two more vests. Trust me, when you’ve been living with my father long enough you’ll know that if he says to buy two, you do not buy three. Not unless you want to spoil what's left of your weekend (or worse, the following week too!)

Sometimes it's so hard NOT to quarrel with my mother. When I left for Chinatown on Sunday she told me: Take all the time you want. Have a good lunch in Chinatown and shop around a little. You don't need to rush home. Then at 12:30PM sharp, she calls me: Are you coming home soon? Arrgh!!!  

Mom has started on physiotherapy for her leg and back problem. Every Wednesday morning I would accompany her to the hospital, wait for her to finish her session, then go to work. It’s a little trying, I’ll admit, but as far as I can see neither of us has any choice. 

Cousin Mary is visiting from Auckland this Saturday. 

Busy times! :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rippled skies

I spotted the quirky clouds as soon as I stepped out from the cool office lobby.  A thin sheet of small white puffs, rippled across the sky.

It was a little past 6PM and the heat was unbearable.  It felt like 40 degrees!  Still, how often do I get to leave the office while the sun is still out?

Took a little time to smell the flowers.

Then arrived home just in time to catch the gorgeous sunset!

It was a good evening.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Not so good

Not a good day today.  Mom had a date with Orthopedic at TTSH and I took a day off work to accompany her.  Dad didn't want to be home alone so he tagged along with us.  

Mom had been consulting a GP for pain in her right leg for several months.  X-rays taken at the hospital today revealed a condition known as lumbar spondylosis.  Simply put, a bone in the lower vertebrae is out of place thus compressing a nerve root in the spinal cord, which in turn causes occasional discomfort to the leg, and occasional numbness to the foot.  Since Mom is over 80, surgery is out of the question.  She will now undergo three months of physical therapy to, hopefully, lessen the pain.  Fingers crossed.

I had almost forgotten that this Sunday is Father's Day!  We had an early celebration over dim sum lunch at Old Hong Kong in Novena Square which, as you may know, is the closest to TTSH.  When I started this blog I vowed that I would not be reviewing or rating restaurants.  However, when the services is exceptionally bad I feel I must bring it up.  Today's dim sum was good, in general.  However, the wu-kok(芋角) smell like pee.  I mean it literally.  I was even less impress when I informed a waiter about the pee, he did not bother to take the dish away.  Instead he asked, "You don't like it?"  (What kind of question is that?!)  He then promptly moved the dish from the centre of the table and set it next to my left elbow!  

I spoke to a second restaurant staff afterwards and she clicked her tongue several times before taking the dish away.  No one returned with a word of apology or an offer to replace the dish or to write it off the bill.  Very appalling, wouldn't you say? I wonder when it'll be closing business.  It's too bad because all three of us happen to agree that the charsiew shou (叉烧酥) was delightful.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

追云 The Cloud Chaser


鯖鱼天 mackerel skies

棉花 marshmallow

驅逐 banish 

侵略 invade

海 sea

夕 dusk

彩 paint