Christmas!


Here’s a digital illustration liangze did on Paper, the ipad app by 53. Our pencil hasn’t arrived yet, but this looks pretty awesome don’t you think? He thinks he’s going to stop drawing things on the app now, since nothing he draws will ever look as nice as this, apparently. We’ll see what happens when the pencil comes. We’ll probably have to get an Ipad Air instead of an Ipad Mini to do some serious graphic design on that app. I did the words and the cute little snowflake!

I started the day with Ze’s family and ended it with my family – and no church-going involved whatsoever. We went around delivering christmas presents and kueh lapis we brought back from Batam to everyone in the Bishan area (i.e. his cousins and Szeling) and also gave his parents their presents – I’ve decided to only give them either perishables or new things to replace old things in their house because there’s just too much clutter. Previous years I got them decorative items (like one of my paintings or painted eggs which are now on display and contributing to the clutter) But this year I’m having none of that. For his mum’s birthday last Friday, we got her a toaster oven because her old toaster oven had been overheating everything from toast to meat for nearly three years. The new one we got her had a little temperature dial so she can set it at whatever temperature she wants. The old one will soon be given to their cleaner, who actually wants a toaster. For Christmas we got his dad medium cut Seville orange marmalade (he doesn’t like thin cut peel) and his mum Tetsuya’s salad vinaigrette. They don’t do christmas presents because I think it’s difficult for a pastor to give christmas presents – you risk offending people by getting some people something and other people nothing. Or perhaps it’s because they don’t believe in the tradition. I love giving/receiving presents because it’s fun to shop and even more fun to shop while thinking fondly of all the wonderful people in your life.

After playing at Santa the entire morning we headed to my place, where my mum had reheated a turkey breast roast and made rojak. I didn’t even know you could make rojak at home :S my mum is pretty good at local cuisine when she sets her mind to it. I think I’m better at cooking American/European things. We brought back five boxes of mashed potatoes from KFC (it’s actually nice in singapore) to go with her turkey so there wouldn’t be too much work to prep lunch. My entire family (excluding me) have been down with a virus and have been hacking and sniffling away for nearly two weeks! They were all hoarse and congested at the dining table it’s almost a biohazard to stay at home. I narrowly avoided catching it by going away to Batam (more on that later). So I was initially going to go with my parents to my church’s service (from 4-7pm) and then go for Bethel’s christmas service from 7.30pm – 10pm.. which does sound like a lot of church. Well I do enjoy christmas and the carols and the church services (probably not the sermons) but my mum decided to stay home because she was feeling unwell.. and I was feeling unwell (not to mention sleepy, after the overnight round of 80 points at Batam) too so we all stayed home in the end, leaving lz to go to church all by his lonesome :P He was a shepherd in the Bethel christmas service so couldn’t stay home with me.

I made dinner for my parents after my 3 hour nap because everyone was out of commission and probably wouldn’t eat dinner at all if nobody cooked (my parents are like that. Meals are optional with them). Fried up some farfalle off the top of my head which tasted pretty good but was a tad spicy which may not have been the best for my mum’s sore throat. Here is what I did (for documentation):

Ingredients (serves 4):
8 strawberry tomatoes, sliced into thirds
Handful of torn basil from my herb garden
Bunch of snipped up chives from my herb garden
One red onion (any size you prefer), chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 packet of chili flakes from an old pizza delivery
Dried parsley flakes
1.5 cups of shredded turkey breast ham
Black pepper and salt to taste
Ketchup, sweet Thai chili sauce, and oyster sauce to taste
Vegetable oil (for frying)
4 eggs, beaten with salt and white pepper
Pot of boiled farfalle (bow tie pasta) for 4 – you can substitute fusilli or rigatoni

Method:
1. Pour some oil in the wok, fry the eggs, scraping from the sides of the pan and turning until only slightly wet. Chop them into smaller chunks with the spatula, then remove from the wok.
2. Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the wok, turn the heat on high.
3. When the oil is shimmering, toss in the garlic chips, a sprinkle of salt, and fry till golden. Toss in the red onion and a sprinkle of sugar; stir to prevent from burning.
4. When the onion has softened, toss in the pasta, the cherry tomatoes, the turkey breast, the fried eggs, the basil, and the chives, in that order.
5. Stir to mix everything up. Add 5 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce, 4 tbsp of ketchup, and 2 tbsp of oyster sauce.
6. Grind black peppercorns over the pasta for about 5 seconds (I use my electric black pepper mill, hence the timing), and toss in about half a pack of chili flakes from the pizzeria. Add the dried parsley.
7. Toss everything till the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. Taste and add salt accordingly. I added about 1.5 tsp of Himalayan pink salt.

This is a dry pasta, so don’t expect much sauce. It will probably also taste good chilled as a salad but since there are golden flakes of garlic in it it’s best served warm. My parents liked it quite a bit.

Dinner was eaten all by my lonesome since LZ was at his christmas service. I don’t really like the way his church does christmas because of the multiple rehearsals – don’t think it’s necessary. Plenty of competent people at his church who can pull off a decent Christmas service with just the one rehearsal, I think. And it’s just a service, shouldn’t the meaning behind the event be more important than the execution? I like the way Vespers are done at Cornell – I’d be surprised if there was even one rehearsal for that. Probably the Glee club and the Chorus will have to practice, but apart from that, no one else. And it’s perfect every time. So since nobody was around (I served my parents but didn’t eat with them – my family doesn’t really seem to have this practice. Everyone was eating at the same time, but glued to a TV screen haha. In fact my parents were watching the same TV show, but my mum was in her room while my dad was in the living room, and the TV was turned to the same channel. Bizarre.) I myself watched the BBT episode where Amy tries to cure Sheldon of his OCD about gaining closure. It’s not that my family doesn’t communicate, it’s just that we already had lunch together, and I think extreme introversion runs in the family :P

I played a bunch of Scarlatti sonatas from 9-10pm. It was a perfectly tranquil night – even though a good 300 people live in my apartment block, all was quiet and my piano is situated in this little cove under the staircase (think harry potter) which has awesome reverb. Scarlatti sounded great there. I bought 2 books (his complete sonatas) off Amazon sometime this year but haven’t really gotten around to playing all of them. I only like the slow sonatas (I am getting old) so I play the Allegro/Presto ones slow too, and they sound nice like that. (My Budapest piano instructor wished me a Merry Christmas on fb today which made me think I should probably go get some of the dust off my piano :P He’s currently in Iceland working in a conservatory.) After the Scarlatti I did some pop music, Richard Marx and Norah Jones and some of Phillip Keveren’s New Age arrangements, which are particularly nice at night. My dad came downstairs and parked himself in the middle of the living room to listen. I think they prefer it when I play pop music to classical music, although through the years they probably have come to appreciate quite a lot more classical music than if I didn’t play the piano. Esoteric stuff too, because that’s the stuff you put in your exam repertoire if you don’t want your examiners nitpicking you on well known pieces haha.

All in all, an extremely satisfying christmas, even though most of it was spent apart from LZ because he agreed to be a shepherd :S I also finished Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl today, which I thought was amazing and have now added my reading-Rainbow-Rowell-books withdrawal symptoms to my playing-80-points withdrawal symptoms. Life is tough :(

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