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

Saturday, May 10, 2014




办公室窗外有棵绿荫浓蔽的大树,让我犹如坐在大树旁。某天早上,同桌的印度籍同事忽然推了我把,向浓密的树里指着,嚷 "They're back, they're back!  Your friends are back!" 我一面不解. 他又说,"The two yellow birds!  They stop by almost every morning. You didn't notice?"  没有,我先前竟然没有察觉。




在Orchard Central用餐。原来12楼有个人造pond! And many exotic flowers.



非常喜欢这棵大树,坐在树下的人会有一种置身于国外的感觉吗? :-)

法籍老板的apartment离公司不远,只需步行10 分钟。他离开的隔天我拉了马来族同事Zan一同过去,要把地方作最后检查。那条路我不知来回走过多少遍,是Zan突然在这树下停下脚步,问 "Isn't this a jackfruit tree?" 我本想回应  "I don't know. Just keep walking!" 见她围树绕了一圈嚷 “It is! It is! Look, there's the jackfuit!" 搞得我也好兴奋耶。

每天上班时都会经过的一棵树。树特别矮,黄花literally 近在眼前, 我是最近才留意到哪!