Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happy birthday, Da!

It is Da's birthday today. Many happy returns of the day, Da... and many more to come!

I had intended to wake up early today to bake some bread. However, by the time I got up, it was already late morning. As such, Da and I arranged to meet my mother, my brother (LG) and LG's girlfriend (ZT) for lunch at the food court located at the basement level of Katong Shopping Centre.

As Da and I drove into the car park and looked for a car park lot, I was amused to see the following sign at one section of the car park:-

What a polite sign! It even said "Sorry sir". *grin*

Goodness me! The food court was extremely crowded. After we stood around for a while, we managed to secure a table whose occupants had just vacated it. My mother, LG and ZT all ordered yong tau hu while Da and I both ordered mini hot pot. Delicious, as always!

After a very satisfying lunch, Da and I proceeded to church. We enjoyed today's church service tremendously. It is amazing what little tricks the devil come up with. He will try make us lose our sense of unmerited favour and righteousness. When Jesus died on the Cross, His work was finished. We have been given grace (unmerited favour) and the gift of righteousness through one Christ Jesus. This can never be taken away from us. However, when we lose the sense that we are righteous and have unmerited favour, we start to look towards ourselves and end up with self-dependence, self-pity and ultimately, self-condemnation. The stress that we go through is nothing more than fear - the fear that we cannot manage everything with our two hands. Whenever we start to feel helpless about our situation, we need to stop and realise that this is nothing more than a little trick by the devil to make us look towards ourselves. We need to take one step back, wave off the evil one and look towards our Lord and Saviour. In and of ourselves, we cannot. Nothing is impossible for the Lord and we need to always remember this. Whatever it is that we are believing God for, have faith that He will always answer our prayers.

After church, I contacted my mother regarding dinner. LG is feeling a little under the weather and I had earlier suggested that my mother cook salmon porridge for dinner. When we arrived at my mother's home, we could smell a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. I stepped into the kitchen and saw our lady chef busy frying some of her signature dishes and some new creations.

The menu for dinner comprised:-

(a) chicken with dried mushrooms stir-fried with black-bean sauce

(b) sweet and sour prawns with lychee, mixed greens and dried mushrooms - the inclusion of lychee gave the dish a very unique taste

(c) pan fried salmon with button mushrooms

Simple home-cooked food but very satisfying. It has been some time since my mother has displayed her culinary skills. I look forward to more home-cooked meals from her.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Japanese-themed dinner

We had a Japanese-themed dinner at our home today. I had planned to cook yaki udon for dinner and as such, I decided to "go all the way" and cook everything else in line with the same theme.

I woke up around 8.30 am and started by preparing the dough for the pizza base. I intended to bake a Japanese pizza today, using tonkatsu sauce (instead of a tomato sauce) as the base of the pizza and mayonnaise (instead of mozarella cheese) as the topping. I decided to use my breadmaker to make the dough instead of doing it "by hand" using SC's recipe.

When Da came home from work, he brought back a packet of char siew and roast pork rice which he bought from the Tanjong Pagar hawker centre.

Da and I shared the packet of rice. I also ladled out some of the ingredients that I intended to use to cook the yaki udon in the evening. I had already cooked the ingredients in a slow cooker and they were ready to be eaten.

As I was ahead in my preparations for dinner, I decided to bake some sausage rolls. I had ordered some cheese sausages when a colleague had gone round taking orders recently. I was inspired by the sausage rolls that SY made recently and I decided to bake some today. As it turned out, it was easier than I expected. Do not be fooled by the complicated plaited design that you see in the photograph below. The sausage rolls are quite easy to make.

I also baked some green tea cookies. Da and I had bought a packet of matcha from Cold Storage Supermarket a while ago and we had a little bit left. I used up all the remaining matcha today when I baked the green tea cookies and the green tea pandan cake.

In the evening, I packed some home-made goodies and gave them to the three handsome boys who live opposite Da and I on the same floor as us.

My brother (LB) and his wife (MF) were the first to arrive. While waiting for the rest of my family to arrive, I sliced some of the brie that WC and SC had given us and offered the sliced brie to LB and MF.

Ding-dong! The rest of the family had arrived. I had arranged 8 chairs at the table because Boy-Boy gets a chair too! He wants to see what we are eating.

Boy-Boy had developed a fever yesterday and his face became all swollen after the injection that the vet gave him to bring down the fever. Alarmed, my mother, my brother (LG) and LG's girlfriend (ZT) brought Boy-Boy back to the vet for the second time in the same day yesterday. When they went to the vet for the second time, Boy-Boy wore his "Champ Dog" vest and according to my mother, the nurses at the clinic were all giving second looks to our handsome darling.

The menu for tonight's dinner comprised:-
(a) yaki udon
(b) Japanese pizza
(c) salmon pie - it is something like a shepherd's pie, except that I added salmon instead of ground meat
(d) salmon patties - it is similar to bergedel except that I used salmon instead of meat
(e) miso soup
(f) sausage rolls

My mother now has cable television in her home and she is addicted to the Asian Food Channel! My favourite channels are the Asian Food Channel and Discovery Travel & Living. During dinner, we watched "A Cook's Tour" featuring Anthony Bourdain. In tonight's episode, Anthony Bourdain was in Mexico. Fancy eating sheep's head soup?

The cake that you see in the photograph below is a green tea pandan cake that I baked today. Unfortunately, my decorating skills are not as good as SCT (Da's niece) and hence, the two-tiered cake was not 100% aligned. I asked Da whether he would like to blow birthday candles again (since his birthday is tomorrow) but he declined.

LG and ZT had brought a tub of Meadow Gold Cookies and Cream ice-cream, which would complement the cake perfectly. I did think of making some green tea ice cream today but I had run out of matcha after I baked the green tea pandan cake and the green tea cookies.

Ah.. my two wonderful brothers were put to "work". LB sliced the cake while LG scooped the ice-cream.

Goodness me! LB managed to slice the cake into 7 slices. Each of us had a slice of cake with two scoops of ice-cream. Absolutely decadent but totally irresistible.

As anyone who has eaten at our home will tell you, no meal at our home would be complete without full bellies and overflowing food. Like Da's friend (SNC), whenever we host a meal, I will make sure that there is plenty to eat as it is not nice if there is insufficient food.

Boy-Boy ate some of the sausage rolls that I baked today (excluding the sausage). We did not allow him to eat any of the other food as he is currently under medication. As he was still hungry, Boy-Boy had no choice but to settle for his own healthy rice dinner which my mother had cooked for him and brought to our home. He was very well behaved at our home today and did not bark.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Birthday treat

The dinner invitation from FIL and MIL today was extended to my mother, Da and me. Da's birthday falls on 31 May 2009 and his parents were giving a dinner treat.

After work, Da and I fetched my mother from her home before we proceeded to Da's parents' home to fetch his parents. Thereafter, we drove to Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant at Eastwood Centre. By coincidence or not, Da's parents and my family both like the food at Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant. The dishes are tasty and the prices are reasonable.

There were five of us at the dinner table but somehow we ended up ordering six dishes! We had initially ordered five dishes. However, MIL wanted an additional order of a soup and hence, we ended up with six dishes. MIL explained to my mother that the Cantonese are used to drinking soup with their meals. For us Hokkiens, we can do without soup at meals. In fact, I usually use the soup merely to wet my rice and I often do not finish the bowl of soup. I am not fond of Chinese soups.

After a very heavy dinner, it was time for Part Two! Cake time! During lunch time today, I had bought a walnut cake from Bengawan Solo Cake Shop. I was not sure whether the shop assistant would give me a few candles, a "Happy Birthday" plastic sign and a plastic knife since I only bought a cake that cost S$7.80. Taking a chance, I thickened my skin and asked if she could give me a few candles, etc. To my pleasant surprise, she obliged. (By the way, the good news is that I am now the proud owner of two plastic signs - "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Birthday"... *grin*...)

As we were eating the cake at the restaurant, we did not do a very boisterous version of "Happy Birthday" when we sang the birthday song to Da. However, given the fact that we were the last customers left in the restaurant, I guess all the waitresses were looking in our direction.

By the time we left the restaurant, it was around 11 pm. After giving Da's parents a lift home, we gave my mother a lift home. Da's parents and my mother both gave Da a red packet each, to wish him "happy birthday" and for "good luck". For the Chinese, it is customary that the older folk give the younger folk a red packet "for good luck" on the birthdays of the younger folk.

My family will be coming to our home for dinner tomorrow. I will be cooking the dinner tomorrow and I am planning a Japanese theme for dinner. I intend to bake and decorate a cake for Da tomorrow but I have a feeling that the dear boy will not want to "cut cake" again. Shy, lah....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

walnut cookies

Ever since Da and I bought a walnut crusher, I have been having fun using it. Crushed walnuts are very versatile, for example, they can be used as toppings on a cake or as ingredients in a cookie.

Recently, I tried to use the walnut crusher to crush some almond nips but I found it difficult to do so because the almond nips are harder than the walnut meat. As such, for the moment, my walnut crusher is used solely to crush walnuts, which is such a waste of a kitchen tool. I shall have to look for other uses for the walnut crusher.

In the meantime, here is my recipe for walnut cookies. If you do not have a walnut crusher, no worries. Simply place the walnut meat in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to hit the walnut. Or you can use a knife. If you intend to use the rolling pin method, it helps if you lightly toast the walnut meat in the oven first.


675g top flour
50g custard powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp cocoa powder
350g butter (softened)
3 eggs
340g icing sugar
200g walnuts (chopped / crushed)


1. Sift the top flour, custard powder and bicarbonate soda in a bowl. Mix the sifted ingredients together and separate into two bowls. In one of the bowls, add 3 tbsp of sifted cocoa powder and mix well. You will therefore have two bowls - the "plain flour mixture" and the "cocoa flour mixture".

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the butter, eggs and icing sugar at low speed for 2 minutes.

3. Add the walnuts and mix for 1 minute.

4. Separate the dough into two bowls. In one of the bowls, fold in the plain flour mixture and mix well ("plain dough"). In the other bowl, fold in the cocoa flour mixture and mix well ("cocoa dough").

5. Press the plain dough and the cocoa dough alternately onto a 9" x 12" x 1" baking tray (see photograph below). The entire dough should fill up the whole baking tray.

6. Cover the entire dough with cling wrap and place the baking tray in the freezer until the dough is firm.

7. When the dough has firmed up, remove the dough from the baking tray and cut into small pieces of desired size.

8. Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for 18 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.

9. Let the cookies cool thoroughly before storing them in an air-tight container.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Phase 2... coming up

When my parents got married in 1969, my mother continued to work until my younger brother (LB) was born. I was 4 years old at that time. In the old days, one did not hire foreign maids. One hired local servants. The servant whom my parents hired did not want to take care of an additional child (when LB was born) and as such, my mother left the workforce in 1976 and became a full-time homemaker.

I have fond memories of coming home from school to a hot lunch. In the afternoons, my mother would take my younger brothers (LB and LG) and me to Jodhi Bookstore at Marine Terrace where she would borrow romance novels and the rest of us would browse the shelves for books to borrow. In the evenings, after a lazy afternoon of watching television with my brothers and me or listening to oldies on the radio, my mother would jump up from the sofa when she realised that my daddy was on his way home and she would rush to the kitchen and start looking busy, preparing for dinner. Naturally, when it came to fridays, she went on strike because she had been slaving at the stove top the entire week, so it was only right that we ate out during the weekends. *grin*

My brothers and I did not have any hired tutor to tutor us as we were growing up (other than tutoring in Mandarin). Our mother was our tutor and what a wonderful tutor she was. She made the subjects come alive. I remember pestering her for the meaning of words that I did not understand and her standard reply was, "What's the dictionary for?".

When my daddy passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47 in 1992, my mother went back to the workforce. There were 3 mouths to feed, not including her own. After 17 years in the workforce, my mother reached retirement age this year. After setting off her unused annual leave, today was her last day at work.

Da and I had our breakfast at the Haig Road hawker centre this morning. I had originally wanted to eat at Qi Ji at Raffles Link but we were running a little late, so we made a quick detour to Haig Road hawker centre instead for breakfast. We ordered a plate of thosai and a plate of roti prata and we shared the two items.

The curry gravy for the roti prata was not spicy and I enjoyed eating the prata with the curry poured liberally over the roti prata.

After a busy day at work, I proceeded to my mother's home first. Da would pop by later. However, when I arrived, the house was all quiet. The only sound that could be heard was the Academy Award winning performance by Boy-Boy who milked it for all he could with his "how could you leave me alone in the house for so many hours" routine.

I guessed that my mother may have been held back at work, saying her farewells to her colleagues.

As I was hungry, I used the sandwich maker and made a luncheon meat sandwich. If you do not own a sandwich maker, I would encourage you to buy one. It is very useful!

Boy-Boy placed his paw on my lap and asked to share my dinner. However, as I had added chopped garlic to the sandwich, I decided not to let him have part of my dinner as I was not sure whether he could eat garlic. Besides, he has a habit of breathing into our faces when we are close to him and I did not fancy smelling his garlic breath. Miffed, he turned his head away in protest when I tried to take his photograph.

My mother came home with my brother (LG). He had picked her up from work and the two of them had gone to the food court at the basement of Katong Shopping Centre for dinner. Goodness me! She came back with so many goodies. It seems that her customers had found out that it was her last day at work and they had showered her with boxes of chocolates, fruits, etc.

When Da arrived, I made him some luncheon meat sandwiches as well but without the inclusion of the chopped garlic as he does not like the taste of garlic (except when it is garlic bread).

Thank you, Ma, for being you. We love you a lot and we are very grateful to you for your years of unconditional love, care and guidance. We know that you are raring to get back into the workforce, perhaps on a part-time basis. Enjoy this little break of yours before you start sending out your job applications!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

mocca chocolate chip scones

If you are a fan of coffee and you like all food that is chocolately, you will like mocca chocolate chip scones.

The secret is to use a good brand of cocoa powder and chocolate chips. My favourite is Hersheys cocoa powder and Hersheys semi-sweet chocolate chips.


2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup multi-grain milk (or any other milk of your choice but preferably not skimmed milk)
70 ml hazelnut flavoured white coffee (or any other instant milk coffee of your choice) (cooled)
cinnamon sugar (for topping)
cocoa powder (for topping)


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

2. Sift the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and chocolate chips. Mix well and set aside.

3. Mix the olive oil, milk and coffee in a separate mixing bowl.

4. Pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until blended.

5. Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop the batter onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

6. Press the dough down until it is about 1/2" thick.

7. Mix the cinnamon sugar and cocoa powder together and sprinkle onto the top of the scones.

8. Bake at 200 degrees celsius for 10 minutes.

9. Let the scones cool thoroughly before storing in an air-tight container.


Scones are best eaten warm. As such, it would be advisable to warm up the scones in an oven preheated to 140 degrees celsius for 5 minutes before eating.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hallelujah to the Lamb

Blessed be Your name, O Lord! You are worthy to be praised and adored.

I lift up my hands to worship You. I give You honour. I could sing of Your love forever. Your love for me is steadfast and is for eternity.

I seek the Healer, the Salvation and the Provider. I seek Jesus Himself.

Only by Grace can we enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I seek Your presence, Lord. Nothing is impossible for You. By Jesus' stripes, I am healed of all sickness, all diseases and all genetic defects. I am cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.


Hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah to the Lamb
Hallelujah hallelujah
By the blood of Christ we stand

Every tongue every tribe
Every people every land
Giving glory giving honour
Giving praise unto the Lamb of God

Lord I stand in the midst of a multitude
Of those from every tribe and tongue
We are Your people redeemed by Your blood
Rescued from death by Your love

There are no words good enough to thank You
There are no words to express my praise
But I will lift up my voice and sing from my heart
With all of my strength

Hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah to the Lamb
Hallelujah hallelujah
By the blood of Christ we stand

Every tongue every tribe
Every people every land
Giving glory giving honour
Giving praise unto the Lamb of God

Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
That You are Lord of all

Hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah to the Lamb
Hallelujah hallelujah
By the blood of Christ we stand

Every tongue every tribe
Every people every land
Giving glory giving honour
Giving praise unto the Lamb

Hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah to the Lamb
Hallelujah hallelujah
By the blood of Christ we stand

Every tongue every tribe
Every people every land
Giving glory giving honour
Giving praise unto the Lamb of God

Giving praise unto the Lamb of God
Giving praise unto the Lamb of God
Jesus Christ Lamb of God

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Amazing grace

For my family, the word "food" is never far from our minds. We enjoy eating! I woke up early this morning and baked two cinnamon fruit teacakes. I intend to bring a whole cake to the office tomorrow as a little "thank you" to my wonderful team at work who have toiled with me on a big project (which we started in 2005 and which finally ended on 22 May 2009). To my wonderful gang - you have worked very hard on this project and I just want to let you know how grateful I am to you for your teamwork and dedication.

As for the other cake, I sliced it and packed some in containers for my family.

Giving in to temptation, I made a spur of the moment decision to bake some chocolate chip cupcakes as well. This time, I added some cocoa powder so that the cupcake itself is chocolatey as well.

I was on a roll and I managed to squeeze in some time to open my recently purchased box of cornmeal and I baked a corn cake. This is the first time that I have baked anything using cornmeal and I was pleased with the results. The cake was soft and delicious. Yummy!

Oops! Look at the time! Da and I would not be able to make it for the 2.30 pm church service in time! Sigh.... my fault, I know!

I contacted my mother and arranged to meet her, my brother (LG) and LG's girlfriend (ZT) at our favourite coffee shop at Jalan Tua Kong for a very leisurely lunch. I say "very leisurely" because the next church service was at 5 pm, so we had plenty of time to eat, digest our food and chat!

Before we left the house, I packed two containers of home-made goodies for the three handsome boys who live opposite Da and I on our floor. Little Hng Hng was at the door and he smiled bashfully as he accepted the gift from me.

As LG had already eaten his lunch, he ordered a glass of iced coffee while watching the rest of us enjoy our lunch. Unfortunately, the stall had run out of rice. As such, all of us ordered noodles. Kudos to the chef who accommodated (again!) our requests for dishes that were not in the menu.

After lunch, Da and I proceeded to church. Through Jesus, we have received the gift of grace and righteousness and because of this, we can reign in life! Let us put the "amazing" back into grace! When we are under grace, we are more than conquerors. Whatever lemons that the devil throws against us, the Lord will turn into lemonade. When we are under grace, we find that life is meant to be enjoyed. We enjoy the company of family and loved ones. Every day becomes a celebration of life and blessings. Things just fall into place. We find ourselves at the right place at the right time.

If you are thinking to yourself at this point in time, "I know what is next in this post... dinner at Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant at Eastwood Centre", you are absolutely correct! Well, I did suggest to my mother that we have our dinner at Crystal Cafe at Orchard Grand Court Hotel but she preferred Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant as there is more variety of dishes and it is more value for money. My other brother (LB) and his wife (MF) could not join us for dinner because poor MF was stuck in her office and LB was with her to stand guard over her (of course, right? That's what the guys are for). As such, it was a 5 pax dinner today.

Guess what? While we were waiting for our food to arrive, we were eyeing a yam basket that the diners at another table had ordered and we agreed to order this dish the next time that we ate at this restaurant. Suddenly, a waitress approached us and told us that one of the dishes that we had ordered was sold out. As such, we changed our order to yam basket. As LG said, we were meant to order the yam basket this round!

After dinner? You guessed it correctly. We went next door to Cold Storage Supermarket and bought some groceries. LG and ZT also bought a box of Sara Lee mixed berries cheesecake. When we left the supermarket and tried to take the lift (elevator) to the carpark in the basement, we realised that the lift was not working. Someone had switched off the control panels in the lift. No worries - LG to the rescue! He is familiar with such control panels and he managed to get the lift going again. Phew! I was not looking forward to walking down the ramp to the basement carpark while carrying groceries.

When we arrived at my mother's home, we saw LB and MF at the gate. They had brought some vegetarian dumplings made by MF's mother. Hi MF, do thank your mother for us. We like eating her vegetarian dumplings. Delicious!

LB and MF declined to stay for dessert. As such, the rest of us shared an entire mixed berries cheesecake. I choked back a giggle when I saw the proportions on each person's plate. Da and I were given 3 slices to share. LG and ZT put the same number of slices on their plate. And my mother? She was given 2 slices! hehe... no worries - my mother is retiring soon and she will have plenty of time to take Boy-Boy on walks.

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