Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ayam Buah Keluak

Some of the best cooks around are mothers who hold the families very close together with great food come rain or shine, for lunch and dinner. Instead of leaving it to maids which is very common these days among Singapore families, they put their own personal touches to it, creating their own individual stamp on the food they cook. We are beginning to lose a lot of these traditions as fast food and hawker food take over our daily diets. This is also the result of more women entering the work force and are basically too tired after a hard day's work to cook a family meal and clean up.

Even though I'm a working woman, I have resisted taking the easy way out and make the attempt to cook dinner each night and sometimes even lunch for the kids for their meals after schools. I do have days where I can't muster the strength and we'll get take-aways but this is more the exception.

I love meeting women who take such pride in their home cooking and they form such good mentors to mothers struggling to increase their dinner repertoire each week. The mum of my good friend Pete is one such lady and just the other day, she showed me how to make Ayam Buah Keluak, a very famous Nyonya dish. Buah keluak is an Indonesian nut that is slightly bitter but gives a flavoursome contrast to the sour assam taste of the gravy. Being a Nyonya herself with both Peranakan parents, cooking for her children and grandchildren is a daily affair and holds the family very close together.

Thank you Mrs Chua for showing me how to cook Ayam Buah Keluak.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Christmas Zoo at Forum, the Shopping Mall

Took these pictures in early December right after my dental appointment. It was the Christmas decor at Forum at Orchard, a Shopping Mall which focuses a lot on kids ! The last time I saw such a beautiful animal display was at Paragon, Bangkok. The flamingos and the ostrich were my favorites. Love the texture of the fabrics used to make them and I wonder who are the people behind its creation. 

Strange little guy sitting on a lotus

Can't seem to take my eyes off this little rascal sitting on a lotus at an art gallery in Suntec City, Singapore. Chinese artistes seem to take a liking to human parody in their artwork. Is this a mocking piece or just a happy piece ? Just can't turn away from his menacing or jovial smile. I can't quite decide which.

Retro food court at Hatten Square,Malacca

Was at Malacca recently for a short getaway and found a new food court on the top level of Hatten Square. It is a recreation of the famous Jonker street in Malacca itself. Of course there is nothing like the real thing but some of the little retro touches were quite quaint. From the little chairs placed just in front of a huge TV screen, reminiscent of those community viewing TV days back then, to rattan as well as flower fabric covered sofa cushion covers. In the 70s and 80s, these were the common everyday furniture at most homes in Singapore and Malaysia before Ikea and other big furniture outlets rolled in. They were relatively inexpensive and can be bought at neighbourhood furniture shops. During the lead up to Chinese New Year, it was common for families to spruce up their homes and make new fabric covers for the New Year. These retro touches do bring back some memories.

Passion Fruit Curd

Lychees, mangoes and passion fruits - fruits with exceptional fragrances. My favourites for making home-made gelato and cake toppings.

Today I made a jar full of passion fruit curd - butter, sugar, passion fruit puree from 8 passion fruits and lots of stirring with a wooden spoon over a slow fire till the mixture thickens into a wonderful custard like texture. Just absolutely heavenly when it is spooned over a fruit crumble or put between the layers of a Victorian sponge cake.

Christmas at Home 2013

I've always loved Christmas decorations, even the smallest touches. These are just some of the little ones I put up for 2013 :)

My hand-made ginger bread man ornament 

I don't have a cat but I do think cats are real cool ! 

My little Christmas tin toys bought years back -  Snowman 1, Santa and Snowman 2