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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Hair Dryer?

 My son Rodney pranked me with this Christmas gift.

I thought it was a cordless hair dryer!


Turned out , it was a gag gift  a big-ass airpod!

He had me there! 


I used it to boom up and play on repeat my playlist of whiny, mopey, achy-breaky songs that I listened to when my heart was shattered by my first major crush at the tender age of 17. 

Haha! The songs drove Rodney crazy!  "D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-N-G!" he groaned !

Guys 'n' Dolls - How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?
 
Guys 'n' Dolls lead singer Dominic Grant died  of abdominal aortic aneurysm at the age of 71 in November 2020.

Skeeter Davis - My Last Date With You
Skeeter Davis  died of breast cancer on September 19, 2004, aged 72.

Anne Murray - Broken Hearted Me
Retired from singing, Anne Murray, 75, now settles into Nova Scotia life.

Linda Ronstadt - Long, Long Time
Ronstadt, now 73, prematurely retired from her singing career. Parkinson's disease has silenced her emotive voice.

Oh, the hauntingly beautiful vocals and lyrics...

Lyrics that rhymed so perfectly...

 The nostalgia... 

What were your breakup songs for wallowing when you were a teen?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Siesta

This candid photo was taken by my son Rodney when we were walking towards our car.

Rodney wanted to close in for a better angle but I said to let sleeping dog and human lie.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

A Feast For The Eyes

I was googling stroopwafel and somehow landed on Rommy de Bommy's Instagram page.

This wasn't what I had in mind!

Scrolling down her page, I discovered that Rommy from The Netherlands creates fun, quirky food-inspired handbags, clutches and purses.


All of her unique designs are meticulously handmade.  The bags feature a concealed zip and hollow centre, with enough space to hold a phone, keys, purse and even a little makeup!









In case you are wondering how much they cost...

These are only 25% of all her bags!

Feast your eyes on loads more on her Instagram here.

So which one is your favourite?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Tang Yuan

You probably have seen photos of bowls of colorful rice balls (tang yuan) on social media and especially on December 21st/22nd every year when  the Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese the world over celebrate the Dongzhi festival. 


Tang yuan is a Chinese dessert that consists of sticky rice balls in a pandan and ginger infused syrup.

Tang yuan means "soup ball".

The dessert is traditionally enjoyed during Dongzhi, the Lantern Festival, at weddings and essentially any family reunion dinners.

These days, you can have tang yuan any time you want.  I always have a packet of those store-bought ones in my freezer.

But half the fun of eating tang yuan is in the rolling of those colorful balls! And especially back then  for boomer kids like us when play dough wasn't around!

Tastewise, I personally don't find the starchy and chewy balls amazing but I like eating them because they always evoke fond memories of my childhood with every bite.

Even as I'm writing this, I can almost smell the aroma of pandan and ginger wafting from the pot of bubbling syrup in my late grandma's kitchen where we all gathered to make tang yuan.

While Grandma and the aunts worked on the dough, me, my sisters and the cousins would be seated around a huge marble table and tasked with shaping the balls.

Every now and then, one of the aunts would inspect our handiwork to ensure that the tang yuan were roughly of the same size and most importantly, perfectly round as Grandma was a stickler of tradition. The spherical shape of the tang yuan  and the bowls in which they were served symbolized family togetherness and completeness.

Ha! I think my purist grandma would roll in her grave if she were to see the spin people put on tang yuan these days!

Great balls of fires! Square tang yuan??!!  I see Grandma spinning in her grave!
image credit - Pinterest

image credit - crave4sweet

image credit - crave4sweet

image credit - simi.huang

image credit - osemhomecook

Many hands make light work.
image source - The Star

Sunday, December 20, 2020

XLB

My first encounter with an XLB was painful (literally) and embarrassing!


It  happened during a business luncheon with my boss and a couple of clients.

Back then, these soup dumplings had just recently debuted in Malaysia and I was totally uninitiated.

Long story short, I ended up with a scalded mouth, a wet chin and blouse and guffawing co-workers!  

I had no idea there was piping hot soup inside the dumpling!

Now that I've wised up after that mortifying experience, here's a 101 on soup dumplings for the clueless!

First, a little fun trivia!

So, what are XLBs?

Xiao Long Bao (XLB) aka soup dumplings are tiny, delicate, pleated pouches that encase a pork filling and a rich, savoury broth.

Xiao Long Bao literally translates as "little basket buns", so named after the bamboo baskets in which they are steamed.

How to get an XLB from the bamboo steamer basket and into your mouth

Place your Chinese soup spoon close to the dumpling and gently lift it up from the steamer onto your spoon. Haha! The first time I tried to pick one up with my chopsticks, I inadvertently punctured the skin and the leaking dumpling conspicuously left a wet trail on the red table cloth all the way from the center of the table to my plate!

 I didn't know you had to use a spoon!

Once the dumpling is safe in your spoon, resist the temptation to pop it into your mouth immediately lest you suffer first-degree burns from the blistering soup. 

Nibble the top of the dumpling to let some steam out. Give it a moment to cool and slowly slurp out the soup.  Once this "dangerous" step is over, you can now devour the rest of the dumpling any way you please!

I like my XLB plain but you could gingerly (don't mind the pun) dunk it in the dipping sauce of vinegar and julienned ginger while waiting for your dumpling to cool.

A video to share.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

My son took these photos at a mall where his client's office is located. 



I am glad that our local malls are keeping the Christmas spirit alive despite the  lack of shoppers and many a shuttered store.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Buffet, anyone?

I've just had an amazing pasta meal cooked by a 5-star hotel chef and at a very affordable price in the safety and comfort of my own dining room.

 I am doing my bit in keeping local businesses alive as best as I can. 

Amid these crazy times, people are avoiding buffets like the plague (pardon the pun) and hotels are the hardest hit as the pandemic drags on.

Swanky hotels with extravagant all-you-can-eat buffets now seem like petri dishes than a nice place to dine in.

Think communal salad tongs!  Shudder!

Pre-Covid-19, I would drool at the mere thought of the rainbow swirl of desserts, pastas, curries, satay...

In an effort to keep their staff, a local award-winning 5-star hotel has taken the initiative to repurpose their buffet cooking stations into take-away counters, offering meals at modest prices.

Now, with all the trappings of a luxury hotel gone, the restaurant looks more like a canteen.





Pre-Covid-19


Their seafood bar was to die for

Notice the sad chocolate fountain

In its glory days

Do you think hotel buffets may be a thing of the past post covid-19?

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Bamboozled!?

A friend has been raving about an artisan milk teahouse that has opened in her neck of the woods for some time.

Curious, I decided to give the high-end tea a try and ordered via a food delivery service.

The milk tea was delivered in this beautiful paper bag...


and in a tall, elegant, 9 inch cup. 

It cost me almost twice the price I would pay for my regular bubble tea but I thought it was well worth the money, judging by the height of the cup.

I had the White Peach Oolong Milk Tea and it really was amazing!

Funny, but when I savoured the last drop, it didn't feel like there was a lot of tea in such a tall cup.

My curiosity piqued, I tore up the back of the cup and here's what was revealed!

Haha! This explains the very short thin straw that came with it!

So was I duped?

Not really. I was told that when the milk tea shop first opened, they launched their "Tear Cup" campaign where mystery gifts like discount vouchers, lipsticks, mini bottles of hand sanitizers and perfumes, etc were hidden in their signature cups.

A rather clever marketing gimmick, don't you agree?

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Of Squid and Calamari

Your probably know that the rule of thumb for cooking tender squid is to flash fry under 2 minutes or  you would end up with a texture that is tough and rubbery.

Today, I learned something new that is game changing!

I was stir-frying squid when suddenly, I had to answer nature's call!

Dang! I knew I should have gone easy on the hot chili oil in my ramen yesterday!

So back to what I was saying ......by the time I returned to my squid, it had been cooking for more than 2 minutes and no surprise, it tasted like rubber band!

What a waste of good squid!

Surely, there must be a way of salvaging the lunch blunder?

Upon googling, I learned that the secret to cooking tender squid is either to cook it under 2 mins or at least 45 minutes! Anything in between turns it tough and chewy.

I never knew about the second option.

Armed with the new knowledge, I dumped the lunch mishap into my claypot, added coconut milk and curry powder and braised it for 45 minutes.

The result?

Fork-tender squid in a rich and flavorsome curry!

I learned that slow cooking breaks down the squid's collagen so you're left with a soft texture and a stew that's infused with a robust, briny flavour.

From lunch mishap to winner dinner

Interestingly, while I was googling for an answer to my squid conundrum, I also discovered that squid and calamari are not the same! 

image credit - http://www.ralphobenauf.com/blog/?p=427

I used to think that calamari was the Italian name for squid!  Although they are both cephalopods, squid and calamari are two different species. They also differ in price — the more tender calamari costs more than its tougher cousin.

An easy way to distinguish them is by the fins. On a squid, the fins form an arrow shape and these run only for a short distance on the sides of the body. A calamari's fins extend much longer than a squid's, almost all the way down the hood. 

An amazing squid recipe to share.

I am interested to know do you use the fast or slow method when you cook squid?

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Bathing A Newborn

My son Josh was born 2 weeks earlier than his due date.

It was an induced labour as my doctor established that Josh was safer outside my body than inside my womb as I had complications during the pregnancy and because of my history of miscarriages. 

Story of my miracle baby here.

When Josh was delivered, he was no bigger than our family cat! 

He looked so tiny and frail!

And I would burst into tears each time I looked at him!

I had a bad case of post-partum blues and I just couldn't bring myself to bathe my precious baby. 

I was terrified of hurting my little bubbaleh — he looked so fragile!

The hubs would bathe him every morning before he left for his office.

I only started to bathe Josh when I got over my fear and anxiety after the 4th month of his birth.

This video of a Vietnamese soon-to-be grandpa teaching his son and  daughter-in-law how to bathe a newborn made me smile!

 

 
Haha! He couldn't have picked a cuter prop!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Kolam 2020

Around this time for the past few years, I would be hopping from mall to mall to photograph kolams for the upcoming Deepawali/Diwali festival.

This year, Covid-19 has stolen the fun from me.

Here, you might instead enjoy these photos I snagged from a local newspaper!

Kolam 2020

image credit - S.S Kanesan, Art Chen & Sia Hong Kiau


You can see photos of kolams I've captured over the years here - 2019, 2018, 2014.

Wishing all my Hindu pallies a very Happy *Deepavali in advance!

For those who are new to my blog, below is an excerpt from a previous post explaining what Deepavali/Diwali and kolam/rangoli are.

* Deepavali/Diwali also known as the Festival of Lights is celebrated by the Hindu Community to symbolize the triumph of good over evil; the victory of light over dark.

The entrances to Hindu homes are decorated with fresh mango leaves and kolams. It is believed that Lakshmi, The Goddess of Wealth, will only enter a home that is adorned with a *kolam. 

* Kolam is an ancient Indian art of drawing using colored rice grains or powdered rice to form symmetrical geometric patterns on the floor. The Hindus believe that a kolam at the entrance of a house will usher prosperity and harmony to the home. It is also believed that a kolam wards off evil spirits and diseases.

Another purpose of the kolam is to invite birds and small insects like ants to a home to symbolize man’s co-existence with and consideration for other living things.

Traditionally, the ritual is performed daily by the women of a household early in the morning.

Fun Kolam Facts 

1. The lines in a kolam must be continuous and unbroken so that evil cannot enter the house via the gaps.

2. The patterns are traditionally passed on from mothers to their daughters.

3. Kolam in the Tamil language means form and beauty.

4. As the kolam erases during the course of the day by birds and insects feeding on the rice, people's foot steps and the natural elements, a new kolam is drawn again the next morning, thus repeating the cycle. It imparts the idea that life is renewed daily.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Indy

This is Indy, one of the dogs my son bathed at the animal shelter he volunteered at.

She is now in a forever home.