Monday, December 28, 2009

Le Creuset

I have been resisting this for a while and waiting for a post-Christmas sale to get my hands on one. Yet to see if a Le Creuset iron enamel ware lives up to its name in terms of cooking but the kiwi green is tempting enough to melt my resolve especially if it comes with a good discount.
I have never been particular about cooking ware except for my Kitchen Aid cake mixer but the range of Le Creuset cooking ware and its beautiful vivid colours speak to me. A treat for myself this Christmas. Hope to try out more receipes with this green baby in 2010.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Today is Christmas Day and I threw a dinner party for a few friends. It's a joy going about buying and preparing the food and putting touches to the home to make it more Christmasy. With some fairy lights, the house takes on a warmer glow and the festive mood goes a notch higher.

I can never remember to take pictures during the course of the party as I am busy serving and making sure everyone feels right at home. It is only after the last friend says goodbye that I flop onto the sofa and then it suddenly dawns on me " I should have taken some pictures ".

So just a few pictures of the house at Christmas before it all goes down and another year comes around again.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gingerbread Cake

I love the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. A whiff of cinnamon and ginger gives a warm fuzzy festive feeling. I personally prefer baking gingerbread cake to biscuits as they are softer and richer due to a generous scoop of luscious golden syrup. The cake mixture is very wet indeed but what comes out of the process are trays of lofty high, golden, sweet smelling gingerbread. I do make it at other times of the year but there's never a better time than at Christmas :)

Beautiful Winter

As I was leaving for Heathrow airport in a cab, the cold winter landscape had its beauty in the most unexpected ways. Even for one brief moment, a brightly lit carousel against the grand majestic beauty of London's Museum of Natural History was quite breathtaking. Despite the cold, I wished that I could have stayed a little longer in this city.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas window display at Selfridges

Selfridges is the biggest department store along Oxford Street in London and its window displays are like the Rolls Royce of window art . What they have for Christmas 2009 is based on fairy tales but with a twist. The mannequins seem to possess a certain eccentricity and in terms of style, it was very much like Lady Gaga meets Vivien Westwood meets Alexander McQueen. To have it fairy tale sweet would have been too predictably boring and forgettable but this was bizarre in a good way. Loved it though I couldn't capture them properly as the human traffic along this stretch made it rather difficult. Fairy tales featured includes Dick Whittington, Peter Pan, Cinderalla and her wicked step sisters, Snow White, The Three Bears and Red Riding Hood . Along with each display were special typography in neon lights. Expressions include "Who is the Fairest ?" " At the Stroke of Midnight POOF ! " What I loved most - the iconic British bulldog with a crown, the mice that scrambled along and became horsemen in the Cinderella tale and of course the wolf wearing Grandma's bonnet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas in London

Was in London for work for 3 days and boy was it cold ! My body was freezing but my spirits were bright and warm with the sight of beautiful Christmas displays everywhere. Decorations were never over the top and it could only be just a simple wreath set against an iron door but with the backdrop of Victorian or Georgian houses, the effect was stunning. There was a Christmas tree at Claridges hotel that had white roses in glass test tube vases and though it was simple, it looked fabulous.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Traditional type fonts

Do you still remember the days of the traditional typewriter before computers took over ? I love the rhythm it made during typing. It was also the days before the invention of the photo copier and making an extra copy meant having to place a carbon copy below the paper. Extra copies could also meant extra smudges :)
As a kid, I was intrigued by the typewriter and wondered how my dad was able to memorise the placing of the keys so well. I love the lettering that the typewriter gave - imperfect and scrawny yet beautiful in its own way. So when I came across some stamp lettering with the type letter font just the other day, I just had to get it. Also bought some of the tiniest, cutest stamps of Russian dolls, cup cakes, teapots and biscuits as well. They had a very vintage feel to it and I was looking forward to doing some personalised gift tags the old fashion way. My daughter Chloe wanted to "play" too and helped me with the cards. She was unhappy as she could never get all the letters in perfect alignment. Told her that it was even better that way just like the days of the old typewriter where you may not be able to get some letters in a straight line due to some faulty keys. Imperfections can be beautiful.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree !

Christmas is all around and I love looking at the decorations all around town. Love this little Christmas tree display at a shop window at Centrepoint, Orchard. No ornaments, no lights but oh so chic !

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Das Erzgebirge-Haus

There is a quaint little wooden toy store at the corner of the third level at Raffles City Mall and it has been there since 1998. It reminds me of Santa's little workshop and gives a feeling of Christmas all year through. Das Erzgebirge-Haus - Singapore carries a wide assortment of wooden crafts from the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) in Germany for retail. Little men and women are crafted to look like cooks, ballon man, traders, hunters etc. Another familiar Erzgebirge tradition is the guardian angel. Each Angel conveys different message, be it for love, to wish someone good health, for housewarmings, for newborn babies or mothers-to-be, for friends traveling away, and many more. Think they make beautiful Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Singapore Design Festival 2009

Weed calendar by Celia Law - experience the different seasons with 4 different scents

Flaunt your lighting not your painting by Alfred Lau

Heart in Art by Jeremy Sun - Painting the facade of a chest of drawers with objects dearest to the owner's heart.

More designs that "Rock"

An avant garde rocking bed for a baby based on the word "yao"

The "Shuang" fan

Happened to be at the Arts House today and chanced upon a little exhibition which is part of Singapore Design Festival 2009 (20-30 November)

One of the design exhibits was that of a fan and it made use of the Chinese word "Shuang" (feeling delighted and happy). According to the designer Woon Taiwoon, this is a fan of emotions that helps to cool one down to get the "Shuang" feeling. The red threat can also be manipulated to form other words that express one's thoughts. The other exhibit demonstrates the Chinese word "Yao" (rock). The best designs are those that combine functionality and style and some were more abstract and eye candy than anything else. Singapore Design Festival comes along once every 2 years with design works featured at different locations in Singapore including design schools, foreign embassies and shopping malls such as ION and Vivocity.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas is in the air

I can feel it coming. Almost a month away. Soon the festivities will begin. This stamp print of mine shows a little snowman rejoicing in the snow and I really like the feeling :)

Malaysia 's Amy Beh

For the past few years, there has been a flourish of celebrity chefs with their own cook books and TV shows and with one too many flamboyant fusion cooks, I do yearn for some good ole traditional receipes.

While in Malacca, I spotted a cook book that featured very authentic, traditional food receipes by Amy Beh . She started her cooking column in the Malaysian newspapers The Star in 1995 and since then, she has garnered quite a following, people who love her homely style of Malaysian cooking. Trained by her mum since she was a kid, she is now over 60 years old and her experience and passion have given her quite a reputation. I bought 2 of her cook books and can't wait to try some of her receipes including chicken rendang and kurma, grilled masala , century egg porridge, Penang Asam laksa and my favourite Nonya kuehs. Apparently, the book At Home has gone beyond it tenth reprint and that seems quite a feat in today's cookbook cluttered environment. Malaysia and Singapore have so many shared experiences and history which also extends to the cuisine of the two countries.

Malacca Art

Went back to the quaint art gallery housed in a beautiful Perankan house along Jonker Street in Malacca. I blogged about this place earlier this year and I couldn't help but revisit it again during my recent trip. It is run by the family of Jehan Chan who has 3 art galleries in the vicinity. Jehan Chan is one of Malaysia's more successful artist and is famous for his paintings of prosperity carps and stylised collages of Sungei Malacca at sunset .

One of the galleries featured the works of his family including that of his son-in-law David, a true blue Baba who entertained me with my endless questions on Malacca . Bought a beautiful piece of his oil paintings featuring a fishing village. A collection of his paintings placed together on the wall at the gallery makes a beautiful display.

Malacca food

Popiah - spring rolls with vegetable and egg filling
Ondeh ondeh - glutinous rice pandan balls filled with gula melaka

Rempah Udang unwrapped - the blue colouring comes from the bunga telang flower
Rempah Udang - glutinous rice cake with dry prawn & coconut filling.
Nonya kuehs featured include red angku kueh and brown kueh kosui gula Melaka

Nonya series "Picnic" by Leong Hock Kooon (2005)

Went to Malacca for a few days to enjoy a leisurely pace of life, good food and family bonding.
Came across a painting of 2 Nonyas ( Peranakan ) ladies enjoying a picnic with some kuehs and tea and it made me hanker for these goodies. So despite the dark skies and threatening rain, I made my way down to Jonker street and was lucky enough to find some at one of the street stalls. I particularly enjoyed the rempah udang which had the most unusual savoury sweet taste. Peranakans use pounded bunga telang ( a blue type of flower ) to give some of their food a distinctive bluish colour. The ondeh ondeh however tasted a little different due to the sesame seeds sprinkled on the top and it made it taste more savory than sweet. Only wished that the gula melaka within could have burst at one bite. Gula Melaka is a sugar from the coconut tree and Peranakans use it frequently to flavour their kuehs as desserts. It originated from Malacca (Melaka in Malay) itself, hence the name.
Also there every weekend at Jonker street was the popiah man. He would be stationed there come rain or shine and for 2 ringgit, one can get the taste of truly old fashioned and tasty popiah. The secret ingredient was actually lard which gave the popiah its crispy fragrant bite. I grabbed some Indian vadai (pronounced as 'Vah-daa' ) too, freshly fried at the roadside stall and costing only one riggit for 3. That was probably the best and cheapest vadai I 've ever had. Vadai, a savoury snack originated from South India and is made from bengal gram, seasoned with curry leaves, tumeric, coriander and cumin spices. By this time, little rain drops began falling and I didn't had the time to take even a picture. Must come back again for the Vadai.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Love for Lego

The Lego Wild West Cavalry Colonel (1996), and Indian Chief (1997)

The Lego Star Wars Anakin Skywalker (2002), Darth Maul (2000), and Jar Jar Binks (1999)

The Lego Town chefs (1998 female chef and 2003 male chef )
The Lego Castle ghost (1997) and hero knight (2005)

If there is one toy that seems indestructible, full of fun and creativity, it must be Lego.

Pails of Lego has kept my kids happy and occupied when they were growing up. Here are some cute little Lego classics featured in The Lego Book. It explores the story of how the brand developed from a small family-run business into one of the most popular children's (and adult's) toys.