Sunday, January 29, 2012

Courageous! (2012)

After reading the movie review of Courageous from IeatIshootIpost, i finally got to watch it with Ric today. And if you talk about New Year Resolutions; Yes, i think i have 1 now. Or 2.

1. Learn to do difficult things.
2. Be couragous; when facing life's decisions.

In living out these resolutions, i seem to see glimpses of a triumphant life..

Produced by Sherwood Pictures, an American Christian film production company in Georgia, under the Sherwood Baptist Church, the story attains a similarly aspirational objectives like any American movies - i was very much encouraged by the film to live out my new resolutions;  which serves as an all year boosting when the going gets tough.

Especially remembering 'Javier' who was jobless but shown much gratitude and diligence in his every new found job. Thanks for the character of Javier, he is such a motivation!

A feel-good movie, go watch it.

UCC the Blue Mountain Blend

UCC the Blend, Blue Mountain, 50g ($15.90)

Being much impressed with UCC 117, we had no qualms about going into its Blue Mountain (and bought also their other blend to try). Alas, we were quite disappointed with its shallow flavor and lack of bitterness in this expensive bottle - just 1 stick of creamer is needed; lest the cream overpowered the beans..

I needed the creamer badly to help drown this cup. Is that how this supposedly good coffee taste like??

Yes, it is. I later read it here that the best lots of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee tastes this way! And Japan, the main consumer, imports more than 80% of the total production from some of these highest mountains in the Caribbean!?

But we, like the rest of the world, are not making the Blue Mountain our regular cuppa ;)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Huat Ah! 蒙主恩典!

This was our takeaway Yusheng from the Rama Thai Sharkfin Restaurant, after our visit to the gallery this morning. A steamboat dinner was planned again. Prior to it, we performed the "prosperity toss" of the Yusheng while saying auspicious words to one another, loudly!

A fun, tasty and meaningful ritual, i find it ;)
Bless all! Amen.

Yusheng with Green Mango, Jellyfish and Salmon ($16.80)

Dreams and Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Regrettably, i know next to nothing about paintings - having no physical exposures to these seriously good art pieces. Am thus often perplexed by collectors who blew fortunes over them, bidding sky high for renowned collections.

Most probably for investment value? But visit to the gallery today teaches otherwise - it is truly inspiring and most pleasurable experience to view such fine artistry of the times! Nothing's like viewing the real thing physically.

This Lunar New Year, the National Museum of Singapore offers 4 days of free entry to the exhibit of these prized collections from Musee d' Orsay, Paris. Many like myself were privileged to view, at no cost.

And i am grateful that some of the collections; and stories behind the paintings, really tug at the heart. I know next to nothing about paintings, but the emotions were very much stirred by these framed motionless.

The ability to paint is a gift; while you can be anybody to appreciate the paint works - of Dreams and Reality.

The Knight of the Flowers by Georges Rochegrosse, 1892

"Parsifal, the chaste hero, resists the temptations of flower-maidens in his path, thanks to his coat of silver amour which reflects and annihilates all the demons."

The Enigma by Gustave Dore, 1871

"The Franco-Prussian War. The battle is over, and atop a hill strewn with bodies, stands a sphinx overlooking the scene. In the distance, smoke rises from a city (Paris) set alight by enemy fire. Under the dark sky, a winged woman is in tears and questions the sphinx in vain for an explanation of the chaos and horror of war, but the sphinx remains silent."

The Dubourg Family by Henri Fantin-Latour, 1878

Young Woman on the Jetty by Philip Wilson Steer, 1888-1889

A Box at the Theatre des Italiens by Eva Gonzales, 1875-1878

The Ball by Felix Vallotton, 1899

The Lady with the Glove by Carolus-Duran, 1869

The Cardplayers by Paul Cezanne, 1890-1895

Starry Night over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh, 1888-1889

Having hold 24 paintings of Vincent van Gogh, the Musee d'Orsay bought with them one of his precious work - Starry Night over the Rhone

Quoting him, "For my part, i know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream." And he does make reality, his dream.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tampopo Cream Puff

Tampopo Cream Puff ($2.60)

We have often seen Tampopo's cream puffs sitting pretty in their display chiller; and how i wish to squeeze them open to see and taste its cream fillings!

Whoa! And this is satifying.

We will be trying out the cream puff from Four Leaves Bakery in the adjacent Meidiya supermart where the price fetches 2 puffs instead of 1 here; but having the much reputed from Tampopo is the order. This is a cream puff at its best.

McDonald's Prosperity Burger

Beef Prosperity Burger ($4.60)

Pepper sauce, Onions and beef steak with McDonald's regular sesame bun - that's about it, of McDonald's Prosperity Burger that makes its debut during the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The burger was a handful, fills the tummy but doesn't satisfy any adventurous palate.

I do miss the Chicken McGrill; one of Mc's best innovation :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Watermelon babies!

A pretty sight of fruiting Watermelons welcomes our return after the Lunar New Year holidays! And it seems all melon plants have identical yellow flowers? Like the previous Honey dew.

Two weeks later, it is still growing :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Laksania - for the love of Laksa

Laksa! You couldn't deny it is one of our favourite Singapore's National dish; often craving for and secretly slurping in more than necessary - the cholesterol laden Laksa soup!

I had with me, 5 coupons for 5 bowls of Laksa selections from Laksania. At $16 only ;)

Laksa Goreng ($7.50)

Out of their specialty Laksa, the dry version of Laksa Goreng is popular with their many customers; or i should say, every table has a plate of it.

We ate and pack another order for home. You judge.

Penang Laksa ($7.50)

My first decent bowl of Penang Laksa; and it came across as a refreshingly light version of assam-based Laksa with heavy garnishes of mint leaves, pineapples chunks, lettuce and ginger flowers. An appetite whetting Laksa, without coconut milk for the health conscious? i quite like it.

See their menu for Sarawak Laksa and Kelantan Laksa.
We planning our return trip for their Singapore LAKSA!!

Lemongrass Tea ($2.80)

The drinks are as wonderful as it looks.
Until next time, soon.

Full Pond of Lotus! 花都开好了..!

Whoa! This is my first time catching a full pond of blossoming Lotus flowers!

We were stopping by the road side, checking up maps to Sengkang Punggol whilst i caught a glimpse of the sight in Ang Mo Kio Garden West. Be there!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Onion Omelette, 大葱炒蛋

Right, this isn't a difficult dish to begin with and we have loved the recipe since childhood.
Let's look at some fine points that perfect it!

1. Beat up 4 Eggs, chopped up 7 Onions (Not too much Eggs ratio).
2. Heat up Oil in wok, add in Onions and stir-fried till it soften. Add 1/2 tsp of Salt.
3. Pour beaten egg mixture into the Onions; as one side of the omelet browns, flip the omelet over like a pancake (above pic).
4. Apply a little pressure to the omelet with the spatula; breaking it up a little.
5. Continue frying and tossing (about 15 mins).
6. When a satisfactory 'browning' of the omelet is achieve, turn up the fire for a last round of frying. This will further enhance the texture and taste of the omelet.

Trust me.
Everyone in the family, absolutely loves this dish.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sautéed Mushrooms Pot, 菌菇锅

Are you one who loves those bags of fresh mushrooms from the supermarket but clueless on the cooking methods? Being a non-vegetarian, here's one vegetarian recipe i like.

1. Finely chop up Garlic, Ginger, Red Chili. Stir-fried all in wok with Oil
2. Add in the washed Mushrooms (We are having the Enoki, Shimeji, Shiitake, Clamshell and Korean mini oyster mushrooms. Also the special Arrowhead tuber, 慈姑 with texture of potatos).
3. Add seasoning of Vegetarian Oyster Sauce, Pepper, Salt to taste.
4. When the Mushrooms are almost cooked, add in the Yellow, Red Capsicums.
5. Garnish with Coriander leaves.

If you like a wetter version of the dish, cover and simmer while cooking. Else remove the cover, and the water produce from the mushrooms will slowly dry up. Exercise your discretion ")

Vegetarian Chicken Rice, 素鸡饭

Like to share this recipe of vegetarian chicken rice with you; it is quite simple and healthy, without the chicken fats. The most tedious part of preparation would be mincing the ginger - which i'm doing for the first time this morning, and it aches my arm muscles.

Ingredients listed were to feed our visiting families for the Chinese New Year, so reduce it to suit smaller serving size.

Main Ingredients to stir-fry together (Serving for 5 cups of Uncooked Rice):
1 piece of palm sized Ginger (minced finely)
5 chopped Garlic
2 stalks Lemongrass (pounded open)
5 Pandan leaves
2 big tablespoons of Margarine, or Butter if you like. 
2 teaspoons of Salt
1 tablespoon of Shallot Oil (Optional)

1. Wash rice. Measure and add in your usual required water for rice cooking but reduce the water quantity slightly.
2. Stir-fried the ingredients in wok using small fire for a brief period. Add half the Salt here. If you have shallot oil, use it to grease the wok before frying the ingredients. 
3. Remove the ingredients from wok, add into the rice mixture for soaking of about 25 mins. Add other half of the Salt here.
4. Switch on the rice cooker.
5. When the rice is cooked, give the rice a good stir altogether. Serve!

This recipe is quite a foolproof one; the more herby ingredients you have, the more fragrant is your chicken rice and if you like a less oily rendition, just reduce accordingly - it wouldn't hurt the final result. But note that chicken rice must be a little oily to be nice ;)

Do cook more rice than your daily serving, cos the kids and man might just love to have a little extra today!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Reunion 2012

We were having our annual reunion dinner for the Lunar New Year; as always, the party was held in the opened air garden where the rain just decided to halt, timely for our dinner to start. Praise God.

This year, married Sis couldn't join us for the dinner - it's the first time anybody is missing from the table and it is obvious..

Here's some photos of the steamboat ingredients; when cooking starts, nobody have time for any photographs taking ;) Happy New Year to you <3 <3 <3

Assorted Mushrooms, Fuzhou Fishballs, Mushroom balls, Taiwan Sausages, Imitation Crab Sticks, Marinated Pork Satay, Fish dumplings 

Fresh Fish Fillets, Sotong, Prawns, Chili Fishballs, Marinated Chicken

Kurobuta Pork Belly vs normal Pork Belly (Can you tell which is which?)

Our usual favourite of Greens: Tang Oh (for steamboat soup) and Dou Miao (for hotplate stir-fried)

Sizzling Kurobuta Pork Belly on hotplate - Tis' what i've been waiting all night for ;)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Air Plant?

Where do this elegant plant came from?

One day, some years back, a pint sized battered plant was found in my cactus pot. Thinking it's just another cactus, i left it as it is without watering or rooting it - months later it was thriving; it suddenly dawns on me that this might be an air plant!? Still, i left it alone.

Today, the plant had grown much; my newly acquainted neighbour warned that i move the plant indoor as air plants are highly valued and may just be carried off - one of such sizes cost about $10-15? He further advised that a log would be ideal for anchoring the light weight piece.

So it stands now at my window pane; basking in the evening sun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yes, please try this handmade Teochew Kueh

Soon Kueh 笋粿, Ku Cai Kueh 韭菜粿 ($0.50 each)

It's been some time since we had these handmade kueh from the Old Airport Road; i've long forgotten how it taste like. So it delivers a long approving "Ummm...!" from me as i bite into the succulent rice flour of the 'thick skinned' Soon Kueh!

Having too much conveniently factory manufactured ones, i've faint memories of these delicious handcrafted. Can't help taking a second glance at the stall where the Teochew hawker is still hand kneading away... 

01-142, Fu Xin Cooked Food

老伴, Lao Ban Soya Beancurd

Soya Beancurd, Original ($1.20)

So, we were finally at the Old Airport Road Food Centre where Lao Ban Soya Beancurd gained much fame across this island.. and was it worthy of all the ravings? (A customer before us just packed away 50 boxes and we had to wait... ;)

Taste wise, we had find it a tad sweet for our liking. It doesn't carry much of the special malt or milk powder taste commonly associated with these new generation beancurd dessert, instead it has a nice tang of beany flavor.

Its texture was also grainier and firmer when we compared with that from Dessert First; not that i mind - achieving the almost perfect balance between that of firm traditional beancurd and the soft collapsible is commendable. What's your take?

On the flip side, the thousands of plastic containers used each day for these dessert is a perturbing thought...

Update: Towards the middle of the year, there was a wide spread of this 'Lao Ban' pudding recipe on the internet. Friend tried it and proved really good! Now we could do recycling of our own plastic containers.

137 Lor Mee - with loads of fried Dory

Lor Bee Hoon Mee ($2.50)

This stall in Tampines Round Market drew a steady pool of customers with light seasoning braised sauce for their braised noodles; most importantly they have fried Dory fish fillets as their star ingredient - and are generous with its helpings.

We were however left wanting as lor mee somehow felt lacking, without braised pork belly; else if you preferred only white meat, you may wish to visit here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sahm Yook Korean Seasoned Seaweed

Korean Dried Flavored Seaweed, 3 x 5g pack ($1.60)

Are you getting tried of having packed lunch everyday, from particularly the same food stalls? I am.. since we're getting too busy to afford lunch out :(

So i'm packing simple home-cooked food rather than agonizing over lunch orders. And these savory Sahm Yook Korean seaweed peps up any plain meal of rice - i ate wrapping the crunchy sheets, like sushi roll over rice. It certainly feels healthy, minimizing on food intake as we desk bound the entire day...

And though the seaweed tasted quite salty (going very well with rice), it doesn't dry you like MSG. Simple lunch; now's back to the computer screen...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dracaena sanderiana, 观音竹, 万年竹

Dracaena sanderiana, 观音竹 bamboo

The Dracaena sanderiana, or Ribbon Plant is flowering in this early Spring! Mother and some neighbours had deem it extreme 'good luck' to have the flowering because of its infrequency.

Another native from Africa, i think it loves the indirect heat and windy spot i had shifted (many months back) it to; with little watering. Never had we any blossom when the plant was placed under intense direct afternoon sun for years, albeit growing to a healthy 3m height. Now it stands just near 2m.

1st morning after, 17 Jan

We had thought that was it, but during a late evening some 1 week later, the much lengthen buds burst into bloom like fireworks! It is awesome! And the flowers gave off a pleasantly light fragrant.

2nd night

For every subsequent nights after, a fresh ring of buds flowered; withered by next morning.

After all the flowers dropped off, a tomato-like fruit grew on the stem and stays for 3 months till it dries into a mature seed.