Updates

My presentation is looming (Wednesday). I haven’t actually come up with a script or prepared anything really substantial. Nor am I at all perturbed. I wonder that means. I guess I don’t really care if I fail at work. Not does it seem likely. But in the rare event that I do fail, I sure wouldn’t take it personally. If I took it any way at all. Not like my studies, for example.

Hyunbin has ORDed! I suppose it’ll take another year before his hair grows out and he begins filming again. Can’t wait! Right now I’ll just have to slowly watch and rewatch all his work.

We had Mingsee and Fabio over for lunch on saturday and I made them another potato gratin, grilled prawns (the big ones from the sea that are not farmed that liangze’s mum very helpfully got from her fishmonger for me since she’s a loyal customer and he gives her the best produce) and a banoffee pie. I haven’t actually attempted banoffee pie since.. christmas of 2010 which was somewhat a disaster since I forgot to add sugar to the whipped cream – I literally scraped it all off the bananas and whipped the sugar into it before dumping it back on. Back then the toffee also didn’t caramelize properly in the can – To make toffee for banoffee pie, one has to completely immerse a can of condensed milk in water brought to a simmering boil for 2.5 hours. You can also do this in the oven if you are afraid of the can exploding from the pressure (then the imagined explosion will at least be contained). The condensed milk will then cook and caramelize into a toffee. Fun fact for people who don’t cook.

Here are the process photos:

Liangze pounded the digestives for me with a mortar and pestle. I combined the crumbs with butter and baked it, same way you would a nutella tart.


Here is the cooked condensed milk out of a can.


Drip it all over the pie crust


Spread the bananas over (about 3 layers)


Top with whipped cream and drizzle with melted chocolate. In this case I made some coffee syrup from the Nescafe premium gold roast (or whatever it’s called) and about 2 tbsp of sugar. It drizzles real thickly, like melted kopiko. I wonder if it’s possible to melt the kopiko boiled sweets. The coffee was inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Banoffee pie recipe, which uses coffee in the whipped cream itself. He also blitzes up the bananas with toffee (or butter and sugar or something) which I don’t like, so I didn’t use his recipe. I rather have my bananas in discrete, soggy pieces. Might go with thicker slices next time, and perhaps a neater arrangement on the pie shell.

Pictures of the rest of the meal:

I made some finishing butter for this out of a knob of butter, 3 wedges of lemon, 5 cloves of garlic (minced by liangze), dried garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Then my mum helped me slit their backs with a scissors and devein them before I spread the finishing butter on the inside of the shell and also in the slit down their backs. Makes much more sense than applying the butter outside the shell, which will eventually be discarded. Same thing I do for herbal chicken – skin it, apply the herbs on the actual meat of the chicken, then wrap it back up in the skin so the fat from the skin will melt off onto the chicken in the sauna. The skin is eventually discarded. Anyway the prawns went into the turbo broiler for about 3 minutes on each side until they got this nice whitish char and we served it with the M&S seafood sauce, which tastes remarkably similar to thousand island. harrumph.


Starters were M&S water crackers (cheaper than Carr’s, but also lao4 hong1 to my great disgruntledness). These were spread with boursin, then a little smudge of strawberry conserve, and then shaved honey baked ham. Cheeseless ones for my brother.


Huge mound of russets grated by liangze.


Covered with a cream sauce, emmental, boiled eggs, and bacon.


And then baked for an hour. Liangze’s favourite way of potatoes being done. The secret is in the cream sauce, which I sieve chicken stock cubes into.


And the leftover veggies from the pizza my mum made on christmas eve fried in truffle oil.

I suppose at some point i should pick up chinese cooking. Like how to make orh nee, the lard and all. Or kueh bangkit. Those I’m very interested in. Perhaps it’s time to make an appointment with my ahma. There’s a teochew cookbook in kino I have been eyeing for awhile. At least my lactose intolerant brother will be able to eat those, unlike having to forego carbs whenever I make potato gratin, and then having to forego my banana bread as well as the banoffee pie.

After that we watched Les Mis with his parents as well as this new guy we met in church during the christmas service. He’s a guy from china who did his PhD in algebraic topology (!!!) and who was one of maifen’s english students in NUS. She brought him to church and introduced us and he’s working in crypto too. Anyway he was very surprised to find so many math grads in the church, and to meet someone from the mothership (my company funds his lab in NUS). Liangze thinks it’s because math people are attracted to hard problems, and the metaphysical question of human existence, why, for what, how the universe came to be, why people have a conscience etc. are very hard problems. I think many of these PRs find it hard to graft into singaporean circles, and actually don’t really hang out or do anything very social when they are here, so I invited him out to join us for ramen and Les Mis. Can you believe he has lived here for 5 years already and has never been to Bishan before? All the movies now have chinese subtitles, so there was no problem there. Liangze had another japanese intern at his lab who basically ate all his meals alone and went out alone on the weekends to takashimaya lol. Which is a good skill to have I think (I used to do all of that too) but I think he didn’t like it much whereas I basically thrive precisely when I am alone. It’s easy for us to hang out with new people, we do it all the time. Particularly weird people. Like Michelle, or Tiffany.

In any case, liangze has also decided to start a cell group (he says it’s not a cell group, just a kopi club) but it pretty much has the same function. Only this kopi club (or our kopi club, if I want to be a supportive girlfriend – told him not to count on it lol) will be a basin for all the misfits in church. People who like to think about hard questions, who don’t fit in well with the rest of the church goers, who would like to have interesting theological discussions and who are willing to be politically incorrect, have strong empathy with atheists and who can always see the other side of the coin so that we will never ever have to deal with religious fundamentalism, or old fashioned christianity, if you will. This decision is not a spur of the moment thing, but the result of a series of hinting/nagging from various people (and his own social conscience) on how to engage the misfits in church. The concerned parties all approach liangze, because the misfits do gravitate to him. To clarify, I’m not talking about the normal kind of church misfit who perhaps have more primitive social skills or who have various mental disorders that make them a little more difficult to get along with; I’m talking about intellectual misfits in the church, who find it difficult to interact with other church members due to the different concerns weighing on their minds, or who also lack typical social skills that allow one to easily assimilate into a community. I am very interested in the outcome of this experiment.

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