latest book

So Yishun Library just opened while we were here and I homed in directly on their singlit section. Nobody else showed much interest except a young boy who was there poring through the Singapore Ghost Stories. I picked up an anthology – Under One Sky, and so far the most brilliant thing I have seen in it is this:

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So cute. I confess the shorts translated from Chinese were lost on me (even after translation!) in that I did not see the point of some of them but I did like the one with the paper menagerie. I read it at the dentist and almost cried right before it was my turn to be seen, which would have made the dentist understandably antsy if his patient were in tears before her teeth were even fiddled with.

The ones translated from Malay were also meandering with not much of a concrete plot, just themes woven together to evoke certain moods. So this poem is still my favourite. Yishun Library is super snazzy now with little reading nooks (with individual lights you can turn off and on), loads of magazine cubbies, and a ton of people already using it; it was as if it was never closed (I went on opening day).

Northpoint has also become a veritable food haven with restaurants I actually like! Of course after 20 odd years of living in Yishun they only decide to up their game when I am about to move away. There’s Din Tai Fung, Sushi Tei, London Duck, Canton Paradise, 4fingers/Bonchon/Jinjja chicken – three korean fried chicken establishments. We don’t even have one in Seattle and there are now THREE in Yishun.

Of course even with all those restaurants I asked X to venture further with me to Yishun Park where there is a famous har cheong gai. Our JC music teacher joined us (since we all live in the north) and he finally got a free meal out of us in exchange for the torture we subjected him to back in JC. I used to go over his notes and worksheets with green and red squiggly lines for spelling/grammatical errors and bounced them back to him. After the rather excellent Ah Tan chicken wings we took a bus back to Northpoint and he gave us a most uninformative tour of the place in which he basically pointed at restaurants and said “So here’s some food” and “There’s some more food…”

Of course halfway through he tried to get me to quit my job and to join him and X at MOE teaching music/planning the music syllabus, and also to help him screenwrite some of the shorts he wants to film/produce since he thinks my language skills are decent and we have established that his sucks. Every time I meet this guy or talk to this guy the odds of being asked to do creative work for him (for free, in my limited spare time) are very high. He thinks I’ve been wasting my life away studying math but I showed him my wooden adult mobiles (he has a v. strange brain in which he doesn’t know many words or technical terms for objects, in this case ‘mobiles’, but once I namedrop Alexander Calder we both reset to the same page. So one sorta needs to know how to hack his brain before any comms can be established.) and baby origami mobiles and he thinks I should sell them on Carousell under the Baby Toys section. He says that they will sell (I never doubted that) from $50-$100 apiece, but I have barely had any time to actually make some for commercial purposes (even though I have already designed a logo for my etsy shop, but that’s about as far as I’ve got :P). So far I have only made 3? for young kids that I actually know (or whose parents I know), and one for ourselves. He still has our work and the H3 projects we did in 2007 in his cubicle! Crazy! Is he a hoarder? I barely remember what I wrote back then.

In fact the other day Z told me his mum found a review I wrote of the book she gave me for my birthday last year and I could hardly remember that I wrote any such thing.  It has not even been a year since  I posted that. I don’t normally review books since I’m not really interested in reviewing books but that lady made me so pissed off with her rhetoric that I gave her a one star on Goodreads and basically warned everybody off buying her book. Which I guess was not the best thing for Z’s mum to find considering it was her gift :P Apparently I had written three extremely harsh paragraphs taking the entire thing apart and she got his entire family to read the review and they were all bemused. I felt bad after Z told me so went back to see what I wrote but everything was justified so I stopped feeling bad really quick :P


Transpacific flight

And so we embarked on our first US to Singapore (direct) flight on Tuesday, leaving San Francisco on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The flight itself took 15 hours and we spent most of it watching TV – they had Studio Ghibli’s Red Turtle! According to the optician my astigmatism has gone up by 50 degrees in my left eye (which is not normal at my age). I got new glasses made (now in blue!) and the guy in this little push cart shop in J8 took all of 30 minutes to make the lenses. He told us to take a walk and he’d have the glasses ready in half an hour. When we were kids it took 3 days, and a return trip to the spectacle shop. I suppose this is a childhood experience that most American children would not have :P

Most of the plane journey was shrouded in night, as we followed the path of the setting sun. A day had to be given up somewhere. When we left San Francisco we could see the moon reflecting off all the little pools and rivulets of water enclosed by land. On the great big ocean the moon’s reflection was just a dim sort of matte glow, and on land that glow would run through all the tributaries on the very craggy Californian coast like an animated spark through an animated wire.

This year mooncake festival (or mid-autumn festival, as it is better known to the less gluttonous) starts only in October, which means that when we went to Takashimaya (on our first day here, like 5 hours after touch down :P) the mooncake food fair was in full swing in the atrium! Managed to buy a box of taro mooncakes from Swatow Restaurant, and we have two teochew grandmothers who would like the taro mooncake with its signature flaky skin. This is probably the most difficult mooncake to make. All the lotus paste mooncakes tasted the same :S seems like it would make no difference whether you made them yourself at home (as my mum has been fond of doing) or if you bought them from a fancy hotel where in all likelihood you’d be paying for the box. Mooncakes come in really fancy boxes now, some come in a chest of 4 drawers where each drawer has a pearlescent knob and the entire contraption is upholstered in chinese silk.

We’ve been here for 2 days and already we have eaten
1. Carrot cake
2. Chicken rice for me (twice!)
3. Yong tau foo for him (twice!) – I learnt that the pork noodles that come with Koo Kee yong tau foo are lightly dressed with a briny, porky sauce that makes it taste very similar to aglio olio!
4. Old Chang Kee, which really ought to be everywhere. LZ says he likes their skewers more than their curry puffs. I like both! I also realized that the skewer that consists of deep fried squid legs is known as ‘squid head’ on their menu :S Don’t ask me why. The lady asked if I wanted the squid head skewer or the squid body skewer so I asked for the body, which wasn’t what she grabbed.
5. Zhi char at Dian Xiao Er – had their signature angelica braised roasted duck (I still don’t know how they managed to do a duck two ways all at once and retain its crispy skin), hot plate tofu, seaweed tofu (much less salty than Jumbo’s or the Paradise group, hence less tasty), marmite chicken, etc. etc.
6. Beef noodles from the Ion food court
7. Hum ji peng from the Ion food court
8. The famous Pablo cheese tart
9. Lao Ban dao hui

We notice new things about Singapore each time we’re back. For example, Old Chang Kee has a tea time promotion running from 2pm – 6pm where you can buy 4 skewers at $5 (each usually runs from $1.30 to $1.75). We passed by the shop, saw the promotion, and promptly tried to order it, only to have the aunty tell us unceremoniously “Not 2 o’clock yet.” Which was when we actually looked at the time and realized it was 1:50 pm :P Singaporeans really can be rule abiding to a fault. She didn’t even tell us to “come back later.” She couldn’t care less whether we patronized her stall or not. It was just very jarring coming back from the US :P I don’t think there are many timed promotions there. Like even the Wendy’s 50 cent frosty promotion ran through the entire summer.

We also overheard many snippets of conversation – not hard when you are a population of 7 million squeezed on this tiny plot of land. Tables in restaurants are typically really squashed together so you can easily overhear the next table’s conversation, whether you like it or not, and if you are buying things from a shop there is also typically a short queue, where many people with no concept of personal space will jostle you and let you in on whatever they’re talking about with their friends/family. Many people here have a very mundane concept of morality, most of which seems to have been lifted straight off from our civics and moral education textbooks (or 好公明) – tenets like
1. It is good to spend time with your family. Games that can be played by the whole family must be good!
2. It is good to help an old lady cross the road.
3. It is good to be nice to elderly people in general, letting them cut your queue and have their way whenever they want their way.
and other communist sounding nonsense.
And so many people espoused similarly boring views in the limited conversations we heard over 2 days! On the one hand it is adorable (how everyone is bursting with at least this standard morality), on the other hand I feel a little like I am on Camazotz.

Another feature of Singaporean conversations we noticed is that there is a brand of Singaporeans who like to expound extensively and confidently on subjects they know nothing about. Their tone is uber assured, like that of a Ted talk speaker speaking about his/her life’s work, but what comes out of their mouths is absolute gibberish. It’s really quite fascinating. In general when we’ve listened to people talk about things they are experts in they don’t really put in any effort in sounding confident? Professors usually only become a little bit know-it-all when they are impatient with someone who is not getting their facts right or making stupid assumptions. In conversation most people who know something about anything tend to be more self-effacing or open-minded so as to be able to learn more. Whereas these overheard conversations brought me straight back to my conversations with the natives 3+ years ago, where I actually resorted to naming one of them ‘genius’ and another ‘supergenius’ for their utter shamelessness in expounding on things they know next to nothing about. These evangelists also talk in a particular way that conveys that theirs is the only truth and that there is no other truth. I feel like Jesuits or Jehovah’s Witnesses would do very well here.

River Safari with the Hs

[humongous puffer fish]

Technically, two Hs and one I don’t know what: Luke is an incredibly precocious 3-year old boy. He’s got blonde hair and blue eyes, and a great handle of symbols and situations.

The oldest H (henceforth titled H1) was my first math professor at CU, and he was funny and nice and always picked on me to answer questions in class particularly when I was daydreaming. If I ever teach I will never pick on students to answer questions.

This post is not about him, however :P This post is to document all the hilarious things Luke said and did. He looks just like his grandpa for one, with the same kind of teeth (and an “ah pek” look, according to Justine lol)

[Perhaps it’s the sandals. They are the same style as H1’s sandals]

Luke was very good at articulating everything he thought. I didn’t know one could be that articulate at 3 years old. His mother (H2) speaks to him like an adult, which I think helps tremendously.

When he saw the “no entry” sign (the red circle with a white bar, with some text below) pasted on a bamboo gate, he asked “why does it say ‘Do Not Enter?'” even though the words below were actually “No Access”. That was the first time I realized he couldn’t read. He’s so incredibly garrulous I automatically assumed he was literate.

He recognizes letters and knows his phonics, like the basic sounds of each phoneme like in the word “food” but he has a little trouble piecing it together.

There were these spinning blocks next to the Panda exhibit with pictures of pandas on them and also descriptions of pandas. H2 read one of the descriptions out, trying to get Luke to pronounce “food” by giving contextual clues to the word (Luke is very good at picking up context).

H2: “What do pandas eat, Luke? Fff-ooo”
Luke: [with great certainty] “Rocks.” (Well, his mum IS a geology professor)
(based on observation of the rocks in the enclosure :P)

He’s adorable and I love him.

We also discovered that the total amount of bamboo one panda eats in a day weighs about 4/3 Lukes. Good Lord.

He also automatically ran to the height chart to measure his own height for the boat ride in the River Safari. For reference, he’s not nearly tall enough. But he really liked the camera, and spent a lot of time hopping between the ropes, all the while glued to my lens :P

Everytime he saw a street vendor, a vending machine, or in fact, just about anything that requires the exchange of money, he would run forward, dragging H2 there, all the while persuading her to part with her money to buy him something.

(At a vending machine selling bottled 7-up and coke and Dasani water)
Luke: “Mom! I need a soda!”
H2: “No you don’t need a soda, you want a soda, but why would you need a soda when we’ve got water right here?”
Luke: [pointing to vending machine]”There’s water here too!”
H2: “Yes, but we brought our own water in this cool dinosaur bottle, look! It’s got water from when the dinosaurs were alive. Don’t you want to drink the water from the time of the dinosaurs?”

They were hilarious together.

(At the cart selling fishballs and slushies and ice creams and things:)
Luke: [dragging H2 over] “Look! Ice cream!”
H2: “We brought our own snacks, sweetie. Remember? Why do we need to buy other snacks? Those are fish balls, and you don’t want those.”

The fish balls were $3 for a stick of 3, which is daylight robbery.

(At the machines that kids can get into, pop some money in, and the miniature car or ship or whatever will start moving and playing music:)
Luke drags his mum over.
Luke: “Can I go on the ride?”
H2: “It’s $2, Luke. We don’t have $2 for these rides.”
Luke: [running up to Z and me, holding out his cap]: Do you… do you have 2 cents?

Money denominations don’t mean very much to him right now.

Perhaps he has potential for a travelling salesman career.

He also likes crawling on the floor and sitting down.

[I think its great that parents are not so concerned about the germs on the floor]

At the humongous aquarium in the River Safari with the manatees, he was obsessed with keeping his balance while walking on the low metal pole running along the edge of the aquarium, and completely ignored the huge manatees gliding in the waters right beside him. H1 said, “What can I say? Kids’ priorities are just not your priorities.”

[Gourmet Monkey sniffing a piece of lettuce to test for freshness]
The entire time we were in the squirrel monkey exhibit H1 was trying to convince H2 to keep a cute little monkey in her apartment for him to visit when he comes to Singapore.
H1: “Don’t you want a monkey in your apartment? You must want a monkey. Look! How can anybody not want a furry little friend in your apartment?”
H2: -rolls eyes-
H1: “How about one of those red pandas? I thought they were pretty cute.”

H1 also told us about the time he spotted a manatee while swimming off the coast of Puerto Rico, at an unofficial beach. He said it was the first manatee people had spotted there in 50 years, and the inscription near the tank in the River Safari also said manatees love warm water! Also, that 2/3 of the volume of their bodies are all lung (where I thought it was fat).

Here he is showing off his re-entry stamp. He’s so affectionate and precocious, once he just ran up to Z and held his hand so Z could bring him around. It’s nice that he trusts all the adults in his travelling group. When his mum asked him to count the number of people in the party, he went
“one, ” (pointing to himself)
“two, ” (pointing to me)
“three, ” (pointing to Z)
“four! ” (pointing to H1)
H2: “Don’t you think you’re missing out somebody here?”

lol. And then he counted again, and got 6. haha. The thanklessness of motherhood.

When we saw the alligators (actually gharials?) in the Ganges river exhibit, H1 told us about the time (maybe in the last year) where he swam with some caimans and piranhas in Brazil (near Sao Paolo). I guess they must be harmless (the exhibit says that despite their vicious reputation, piranhas usually forage for already dead animals) but H1 said that when he was in Brazil, at the same time that he got into the water, a 3-meter long caiman glided into the water as well. “It really makes you think.”

For most of my other professors I worry about their diet, about how much pizza they eat or how much cherry coke they are drinking, if they’ll get diabetes, or a heart attack. H1 is a whole other character altogether. You worry about him being eaten alive by crocodiles. He certainly doesn’t strike one as a Steve Irwin-type person, but on occasion you can tell he likes dabbling with the dangerous.

Day 3 in Ithaca (4th March 2014)

We spent the entire morning pottering around the kitchen! Woke up bright and early, went to the basement to get my hired help up, and I’d started stripping chicken thigh meat of the bone by about 7am.

I did about 3 thighs before LZ had finished his first one :P, and then Chris joined in the fray.

About 3-4 thighs were slated to be marinated with satay marinade, 1 thigh was earmarked to make chicken yakitori, and one thigh for the claypot rice, which we had somewhat unwisely chosen to start off in a crockpot. Switched a small amount of it to a rice cooker in the end since I’d finished grilling the satay/yakitori and Ze had finished stir frying the bok choy and still the rice had not finished cooking.

(Here’s the satay. Forgot to soak the bamboo skewers, so some of them caught on fire :P. You can see them getting a little charred near the edges of the pan)

And the yakitori with little bok choy flowers :)

I threw about 5 wieners (actually rather averse to the taste of lup cheong) and a packet of rehydrated sliced shiitake as well as several fresh button mushrooms into the claypot rice – american style I suppose. The claypot seasoning (I think from Asian Gourmet House) was not as good as I remember it to be.

Ze diced a cucumber and sliced up a red onion for dipping in the satay peanut sauce – I brought the prima pack version as well as another version that was just the peanut sauce, no marinade. The peanut sauce turned out to be slightly spicy, but no more so than the red onion, which got all of us!

Chris gave us enormous mounds of claypot rice each and Rich very little (for fear he wouldn’t like it) but he asked for seconds and there was none to be had! I didn’t know she had already distributed all the claypot rice that was made in the little rice cooker (that she’d inherited from us) or I would never have finished my portion. She forgot that he actually eats claypot rice – in fact she once told me it’s the only rice he eats, which was why I brought the sauce packets over. He did get to finish the satay though, and Buster never got any :P

I also baked a pandan chiffon cake in the morning –

It rose beautifully but the mixing bowl of the KitchenAid was too small to froth up the 8 egg whites I put into it to their full potential. The texture of the egg white was rather significantly different (creamier) than what I normally get in Singapore, not sure why.

We cut a piece for Buster:

I was too full from lunch to eat any of the pandan cake but I did package a box for Ed and a box for Raghu (since Ed likes green stuff and well, I’m willing to bet Raghu hasn’t seen pandan cake in a long time!) It wasn’t as good as my typical results in Singapore, but wasn’t bad at all. I think actually Singapore’s humidity keeps cakes moisturized – I don’t mean moist, like a pound cake, or a butter cake, but moisturized, like the difference between dry skin and supple skin. Our chiffon cakes actually get more tender because of the intrinsic water content in our air.

The roses I gave her still adorning the table.

I lazed about the house taking pictures of things (like the crystal fob I gave her from the German christmas market a few winters ago) and editing photos until it was 5pm and we finally left the house to take a look at all the prettily painted traffic light control boxes.

Chris says the town council recently hired painters/recruited volunteers from IC or IHS to paint the traffic light control boxes at every intersection (near the commons anyway) with flowers and buildings and things – whatever struck their fancy really.

We left just as the light was waning and while I did get lots of photos, I didn’t have time to pick up the cookies-by-weight at Wegman’s for the bell choir. So after Chris dropped us off at Tab (Ze was meeting Dave for dinner at Chili’s while I was filling in for Rachel at bell choir practice) she went to Wegmans and helped me pick out a box of cookies for the bell choir.

Being back at bell choir on a Tuesday night was like picking life right up where I left off. Everyone remembered me and it was wondreful being able to play the handbells again – their Easter songs are so pretty! And, I got to meet Yuna, who is one of the new girls Chris is discipling. When Dave introduced us on the front steps she pointed at me and yelled “Chris Scriber!!!” haha.

After bell choir we hung around to chat – Chris had helped to buy (and deliver :P) the lemon and raspberry jam filled cookies and several chocolate chip cookies (which were the most popular). I managed to try one lemon flavoured cookie en route from Elmira to Denver and it was…interesting. The bell choir people loved it though, which is what’s important.

Dave sort of arm-twisted me into visiting with him and Eileen up at his house at Asbury Drive with his sad eyes and sneaky words, so after he and Ze came back to Tab, after bell choir (I was tired out and ready to go home), I wound up grabbing a bite at Louie’s (my typical order) and eating in the car while LZ drove up.

(Grilled ham and cheese on white)

I was sort of mad at LZ for not just telling Dave that I was tired and had to go back. Bah!

Visiting with Dave wasn’t bad at all though, Eileen was tucked into a rocking chair doing the crossword, the paragon of elderly contentment. I should like to retire as cosily.

He showed us his bottle collection, model car collection, clock collection, and we visited with each other for awhile clustered around the kerosene heater they have in the middle of the living room. Scenes like this remind me of Mansfield’s Camomile Tea.

After visiting Dave we went on a late night ice cream spree at Wegman’s! Rich drove us out to Purity during the traffic light control box tour but it was closed due to construction! D: It was an incredibly sweet gesture though (and about the pinnacle of his sociability, so one has to grab on to it and appreciate it!) We felt just like kids whom he was bringing out for ice creams, just like how Lz’s mum wanted to bring us for ice creams after service at Bethel one sunday before we left, but the ice cream parlor was closed :/ I felt pretty badly for her about that, and also pretty badly for Rich because Purity was closed just when he wanted to bring us there for ice creams. Anyway we decided to pick up some ice cream at Wegman’s after visiting with Dave because Rich didn’t get his Purity fix earlier – I also managed to stroll around Wegman’s a bit more to pick up 2 papyrus cards – one with Hokusai’s wave for LZ’s dad, and a pretty pink one with flowers. We got 3 pints of ice cream:
– Wegman’s premium dark chocolate – my typical order
– Haagen Daz’s cappucino gelato
– Haagen Daz’s green tea (for Chris to try)

When we got home there was great rejoicing in the household – it’s a pity I didn’t get any pictures of our midnight ice cream party :)

Chris said Rich probably wouldn’t try the green tea when I said I would scoop all 3 flavours into the 4 bowls put out, but when he got his bowl he asked “where’s the green one?” So I gave him some in the end :P I’m not sure he cared for it, but the flavour of Haagen Dazs’ matcha ice cream is too mild for anyone to not like it. It gets totally overwhelmed by the chocolate though.

I guess this is how the Happy Endings Sundae got its name!

p.s. Wegman’s dark chocolate ice cream (only $2.99!) tastes as good as ever.


The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.


So my grandma died today, in the wee hours of the morning just after my plane touched down in Changi. I didn’t get to see her (alive) one last time. Actually, I think her mind may have been gone weeks ago, so we’d lost a part of her then, and we’re losing the whole of her now.

I haven’t nearly had any time to think about it, really. But sometimes I catch myself drifting off at work, and remember that after my time clocked in the office, I have to go to the funeral, and it’s depressing as hell. I did not bargain for this denouement, but life deals, and you get on with it. It’s easier not to talk about it, so I haven’t really told anyone at work. For future reference, if you have to deal with me when I’m sad, you should just let me get on with my moping. It doesn’t last very long, and there’s hardly anything you can say that will mitigate anything, unless you’re Emily Dickinson or something.

I have one grandparent left! About the grandmother that left us this morning:

She was quite a character. She could speak maybe 5 languages (including various chinese dialects), but only a little bit of each one. So most of the time when she spoke to me it was in a hodge podge of languages, trying to get me to understand, and I understood very little. I guess I regret not picking up Hokkien (her primary language) to speak to her.

She made rather good chilli according to everyone else, but since I didn’t eat chilli for most of my life before I was 21, I have no opinion on this. Everyone mentions her chilli in ther wedding speech though. In other things she’s not such a great cook; her signature dish is red bean soup.

The clearest (and probably most unflattering) memory I have of her is at her House Dedication. Now house dedications aren’t all that common in my church – probably only for old people who used to practice idol worship and who wanted to “rid” their house of all those spirits. The main reason she called the pastor to do the house dedication for her new apartment (back in 2009 or something) was because my maternal grandmother had had the pastor over to her house for chinese new year, and since my paternal grandmother didn’t want to lose out, she held a house dedication. All through the time the pastor was giving his mini sermon my paternal grandmother was whispering to my maternal grandmother and getting out of her chair to settle various things and getting generally distracted, like a twitchy little kid. The pastor had to tell her to shush and sit down lol, which is not easy for a man about half her age. My dad had ordered a catered buffet, so when there was a bunch of food left over (old people don’t eat that much), she actually grabbed a styrofoam plate, loaded it up, and went over to her next door neighbours, pressing the button in rapid succession in the manner you would fire a Para/M249 in CS. DING-DONG-DING-DONG-DING-DONG-DING-DONG-DING-DONG it went, and nobody answered. I was appalled and faintly amused. She didn’t think she was disturbing them at all!

Only my dad and my youngest aunt, and youngest uncle was brought up by her. The two older kids were actually sent off to be mothered by her sister in-law, which I think was quite common in those days when you are poor, so they aren’t all that close to her. Their family is one that is rife with feuds and bad behaviour for many generations, but I guess we do pull together when things like this happen.

She used to pop up outside my apartment when I was young to deliver food and things (that my mother didn’t want). None of us particularly liked the food she brought, but it was cute how she kept popping up unannounced. She had a direct bus to my flat so I thought this delivery service was just for us, but it turns out she did it for all the grandchildren, even all the way in Ghim Moh (when she stayed in Ang Mo Kio). Crazy! She liked giving us stuff, and she also liked giving us money, all the way until I started working.

She was fiercely independent, and was self-sufficient for her entire adult life. Once she found out how much money could be made by subletting rooms in her apartment, she basically rented the spare room out I think even when my grandfather was alive. Rent in Singapore is pretty ridiculous, up to $3000 for a full apartment. I think for a room in a flat you pay about $800 or so. So she had this steady source of income which none of her children can even claim to have after they retired. She was so concerned with saving/making money that she even split her own bedroom in half, renting half of it out to a chinese immigrant. I’m not sure how much of this was legal. It’s amazing how little personal space she cares for, and how enterpreneurial she is. But essentially nobody had to pay for any of her hospital/hospice fees or even for the domestic worker (Hubbard refers to them as live-in servants), which were a song anyway, considering all of her children have retired. I wonder what will happen to the maid now. She was really professional wrt geriatrics.

I am especially sad that she will not be there to see me get married.

Oxtail sammies

Getting Serious Eats recipe newsletters in my inbox every tuesday creates a huge time vortex at work where nothing gets done till I have planned out exactly when I’m going to cook everything in that newsletter. This Tuesday, it was their Braised Oxtail and Gruyere sandwiches with Joshua Bousel’s Red Onion Jam.

So I made this for the cards gang (6 of us, incl. L) who came over to my place last sunday for some 3 little pigs and Resistance :P

To prep for churning out sandwiches and mushroom/gruyere crepes for dinner in under 30 mins, I prepped all the ingredients the day before:

Humongous tub of shiitake, cremini, white mushrooms, shimeiji, and portabella, all sliced up.

Sauteed in salted butter and fresh rosemary/sage to form a ragout. This I can subsequently spread onto the Williams Sonoma’s crepe batter with shredded cheese and it is divine.

We also stewed about 1kg of red onions in red wine, brown sugar, and balsamic vinaigrette to form a pot of red onion jam.

Suitable on anything, really. It was particularly good in my sandwiches.

Here we are assembling the sandwiches – I used some small ciabatta rolls from NTUC – a tad too soft I think. Would have liked them crustier. You can get proper ciabatta from the bakery at Cluny Court. Anyway I spread a good portion of braised oxtail (done in the slow cooker the night before with lots of red wine, vegetables, and chicken stock) on one half, spread the red onion jam on the other half, and then toast it with emmental singles and thinly sliced red peppers.

You can add some cherry tomatoes for extra juiciness. I thought it was lacking in the moisture quotient so I also drizzled some home made honey mustard dressing. onto the veggies:

And here’s a close-up:

All lined up on my chopping board ready to be served:

We stuffed them with mesclun greens with honey mustard so it would be healthier :P The oxtail was really delicious. I would make it again but it’s such a lot of work, and pretty strong tasting too!

And then we had Pierre Herme’s nutella tart for dessert. I’m beginning to see why a sweet tart pastry is used instead of graham crackers- the nutella basically overturns most of the crust :/ I would also advise using fresh nutella, mine was about to expire in about half a year and was super clumpy. Fresh jars of nutella should be silky smooth.

I made four mini tarts and one large one. Will probably revert to using sweet tart crust next time instead of graham crackers! That doesn’t really solve my problem of what to do with all the expiring graham crackers we bought from Cold Storage on clearance – they started outat $9.60 a box (ridiculous!) around christmas time, the price dropped to $4.80 about the end of December, and then became $2.40 about two weeks ago. The boxes SL ordered for me online expire in March, so I don’t understand why Cold Storage imports products that expire earlier and have the cheek to charge $10 for a box.

While playing Resistance I discovered that LZ is a fantastic liar and that I will never be able to tell if he is having an affair or not :S I am very bad at lying and I don’t really like doing it either. I think every time I was a spy, the spies lost the game lol.

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs II

We finally caught Cloudy with a chance of meatballs. It’s a kids’ movie, so the showtimes are always in the afternoons, which means we couldn’t catch it till the weekend – the pain of being a working adult who still watches kids’ shows! I kind of expected a 1.5 hour long hunger-inducing ad about American fastfood (there were no meatballs in it in the end) but most of the food in the movie were personified/given monster characters which was not very appetizing (whenever the cheeseburger or taco roars, all kinds of chopped up vegetables fly out of its maw, which is somewhat disgusting). Also I don’t know about you but I have never felt any inclination to eat something that was alive, it’s as gross to me as Koreans eating live octopus, with it wriggling in your mouth and everything. yech. In keeping with the theme of the movie, we brought a meatball sub in for lunch only to discover that there are no meatballs whatsoever in the movie – I guess we really have to watch the first one to get it.

I thought the plot was actually really weak and implausible (I mean, I know it’s a kids’ movie, but still) – too much good vs evil and the humour was not even very funny. The bits with the animated marshmallows was really cute, and some of the food monster names/drawings were mashed together quite cleverly, like flamangos and kiwis. But if I could go back in time I would not have spent my sunday afternoon watching this!