Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Tea, earl grey, hot!

I was stretched out comfortably on my sofa watching an episode of Star Trek:TNG. Captain Jean Luc Picard was ordering his favourite beverage from the replicator on the Enterprise. Robina was walking by and I mimicked Picard's words:"Tea, earl grey, hot!" Normally I will get a thumping, but 3 mins later I got my hot earl grey.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

roast leg of lamb part deux

the experiment turned out quite successful, I must say. Robina was getting quite hungry partly because she only had a sandwich for lunch and partly due to the aroma wafting from the oven.

I used a sweet German white wine, half the bottle went into the roasting pan to braise the veges (mushroom, fennel bulbs, onions, garlic, shallots and potatoes). the lamb was roasting above the pan which collects the choice juices from the roast. I modified the recipe (from Sylvia Tan, ST) somewhat and varied the cooking time (240C for 20 mins, then 200-190C for about 45mins) using "agaration". turns out the estimate was just about right, the meat was well cooked, although I personally prefer slightly pinkish roast.

u can see the garlic amongst the well-done lamb.

I used the trick learnt from Oi Yee and made deep cuts in the lamb and stuffed in slivers of sliced garlic. the marinade was very simple, just salt and pepper with mixed herbs and drizzled with olive oil, all nicely massaged into the lamb. the whole package went into the frig for a few hours before cooking. just before stuffing the lamb into the oven, I covered the lamb leg with pieces of bacon.

the braised vegetables and gravy went very well with the lamb, together with the chilled white wine. Robina and I polished off a significant amount of the lamb, probably would not have much left-overs for tomorrow. Sally also benefited since she was shamelessly begging Robina for supper; so Sally had a treat of lamb and rice, plus I saved the thigh bone for her to gnaw on.

Friday, April 22, 2005

roast leg of lamb: akan datang

dropped by Jenny Lou's (local equivalent of Jason's) during lunch time to buy groceries in preparation for tomorrow's cooking experiment. Will be firing up the oven for a roast leg of lamb.

the lamb leg was very fresh and quite cheap, about S$7 for 1.2kg (some how the image of a three-legged goat on clutches keep popping into my head, amen). Also picked up some fennel bulbs to toss in together with the lamb. Have not tried this vegetable before, but was told by the recipe and websites that it has a pleasant anise flavour and is great in a stew or braised together with the roast. will post about the result (or disaster) tomorrow.

on the subject of food, do check out penny seow's post and pics of her delicious mee siam (I can only appreciate visually). a word of warning though, do not read her blog when you're hungry or 10,000 miles away from the nearest plate of mee siam (it's that good!). I was drooling like Homer Simpson contemplating a hot dog on the floor of Appoo's Kwik'E Mart...duuuuhhhh...

spinning candle

In the land where you can find automated majong tables, even your birthday candles with come with a sparkle gizmo. a singaporean friend who has recently relocated back to S'pore has asked Robina to look out for special candles. We finally tracked down the cake shop that sells it. actually quite cheap for about S$2 only! we bought 5 for our friend.

Previously, we had witnessed this value-added candle in a restaurant. At the next table, the boyfriend brought out a birthday cake for his female companion. He lights the central candle which breaks out in a small fireworks sparkle while the surrounding candles opens out on the plastic lotus flower. quite neat altho a tad tacky...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

whirling saw of death!

fellow bio grad and cycling kaki, Mark Chan posted a whince-inducing account of his cast-removal experience, thanks to a hairline fracture on his arm. although not quite the Texas chainsaw massacre, the image of the nurse with the spinning saw was scary enough! the traumatic experience had cancelled off the joys of skipping work and drinking free IKEA coffee.

excerpt: "When the nurse switched the thing on, it made a loud whirring sound, louder than your industrial vacuum cleaner. She brought it close. That's when I saw a metallic blur that was the moving saw blade. Uncontrollably, I let out a pained cry, "Oh my!!" Then the nurse smiled & told me to relax. Then she switched off the thing to show me the blade. And those teeth!! How to relax?? "

apparently others in the UK were not as lucky as Mark who got away without a scratch.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

charity bazaar

This saturday afternoon, we helped out at the international charity bazaar where various embassies put up booths selling their food specialties and handicrafts. Robina helped to man the Singapore booth. we were selling distinctively Singapore products like bak kwa, chicken and pork floss, breadtalk buns, sambal chilli and Tiger beer!

Robina discovered that she has potential as a "Tiger Beer" lady. This African chap came by several times to buy beer from her. it was only later that she discovered that she had unintentionally over-charged the guy :-)

We also went around sampling the many delicious food put up by many countries. I loved the lamb kebab from Iran. it was tender and nicely spiced. the fruits sold by Thailand was a crowd puller. apart from durian, Robina bought four packs of mangosteens which was super sweet when we tried some at home. I bought a bottle of German wine and had a nice chat with a Chinese muslim lady who specialised in islamic calligraphy.

our Singaporean friends also came by to visit the bazaar. A bunch of Singapore students visited the stall to load up on bak kwa and bak kut teh spices. in the end, our Singapore staff had caught with the "business" bug. we enjoyed the buying and selling process and talking to many people from various countries and Chinese people who flocked to the bazaar.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Singapore Chow Fun

as our Taiwanese friends would say, "simi wah kway"? or in Malay, "apa ini macham?"

apparently, Siva's long-lost JC-mate Lim Li Min (now a Bangkok-based writer) was answering some queries on the online Q&A of her MSNBC column. she was stumped by "Singapore Chow Fun" noodles. Siva then circulated an APB to all other known foodies.

Penny Seow (US-based and excellent cook) offered her thoughts on this matter of national culinary emergency. She explained that over there in the States, at least in NY area, "Chow Fun" = stir-fry vermicelli. Sometimes, the chefs also use flat rice noodles (Guo Teow) even when you see Chow Fun on the menu.

According to Penny, "Singapore Chow Fun" is a very common dish there (believe it or not). you can find the dish in most of the Chinese restaurants there. Usually, vermicelli is used for this dish. She was just as dumbfounded whenever her American friends asked her about "Singapore Chow Fun". She never knew such a dish existed in the first place even though she has seen it on the menu.(on an separate issue, I went into spasms at Penny's home-made dry wanton mee. needless to say, not avail in Beijing aaarrrggghhh!)

Offering my two cents worth, I think this "Singapore Chow Fun" is a Hong Kong Cantonese-styled stir-fired bee hoon. sometimes it's called "Singapore Chow Mai" since "Mai Fun" in cantonese refers to beehoon or rice vermicelli.

strangely, u can find "Singapore Chow Fun" in all parts of the Chinese-speaking world or in any Chinatown, thanks to HK cantonese restaurants. To me at least, it is a strange (and sometimes vile)concoction of beehoon liberally doused with curry powder. of course, there are regional variations. Like here in Beijing, the version of "Singapore Chow Mai Fun" they served is less on curry powder but more on ketchup, but just as vile (IMHO)

Personally, I think "Singapore Chow Fun" is Hong Kong's revenge to "Hong Kong Noodles" concocted by Singapore Tze Char stalls. Hong Kong noodles as interpreted by Singapore chefs is stir-fried thin egg noodles with diced char siew and shrimp. You cannot find "Hong Kong Noodles" in HK! just like you cannot find "Singapore Chow Fun" in S'pore or Hainanese chicken rice in Hainan, China (but that's another story...)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

tug of war

friends and colleagues from the 10 ASEAN embassies joined in the ASEAN Family Day. There were fun and games for the adults and kids. apart from table tennis, badminton, volleyball, bowling, we played pool and arcade games like car racing (too bad there was no Daytona!). Robina was recruited for the tug of war event for the ladies and I was roped in for the men's team. this shows that we were scrapping the bottom of the barrel and gave new meaning to "resistance is futile". needless to say, we were creamed but it was fun nonetheless...

we promise to take the advice from a Bruneian friend who reminded Robina that she should have eaten breakfast for next year's event...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

wait I slap chu with slipper?

Robina had a run-in with a fat b**stard this afternoon when she was out shopping with her kakis. They were in a shop trying on slippers, a rude bugger tried to barge his way thru and was about to shove Robina and her frens aside. After close to one year in China, Robina's fuse has been trimmed to almost non-existent, short-fused is an understatement! Since she was trying on slipper, she slapped the bugger on the leg with a slipper and told him off "Who u think u are, we are also customers!" Surprisingly, the big-sized guy backed off and went away pretending he did not hear Robina's scolding. Her friends who were shocked at first, recovered enuff to laugh at the guy.

Incidences of rudeness are common place here. u get elbowed or shoved aside routinely or discover that queues mean that who gets to the front first gets served! after a while, u learnt to stand up for yourself or get nowhere. over here the meek will not inherit the earth! even my friends who visited Beijing or China became "localised" within a week, i.e. they learn to push back! very often the miscreant will back off when confronted.

Precious helpers

just read a heart-warming article by Anthony Thanasayan in The Star who is wheel-chair bound and depends on his service dogs: a German Sheperd and Rottweiler. He counts on his dogs for protection, companionship and simple tasks like picking up things. his experience is even more valuable since there has been a spate of bad press for GSD and rotties in Malaysia due to cases of dog attacks.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

chicken tonite!

decided to test drive the oven, which we have not used since moving into this apartment for coming to one year! tried a simple roast chicken recipe: just season the chicken with sea salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. toss in some onions, potatoes and carrots. after the chicken is nicely roasted with crispy skin, proceed to saute the veges with red wine and chicken gravy. will try roast leg of lamb in a few weeks' time.

assorted veges in red wine sauce

home on the range

Robina and I decided to drop by a shooting range on the outskirts of Beijing this afternoon. It's right inside a PLA camp but opened to outsiders who basically pay for the bullets they blast off. I was a bit miffed that we could only choose from a dinky range of pistols, shot guns and sport rifles while others with "connections" could fire shiok weapons like AK47s. Robina chose a pistol by was quite pissed off by the "coach" who barked orders at her to hold the gun properly. She just fired off one magazine (10 rounds, 3RMB per round) before passing the next mag to me. I also tried firing the old SKS carbine, the most "military" rifle available to us. squeezed off 20 rounds at 6 RMB each. managed quite close clusters at the 50m target even with a rifle not properly zero-ed :-)

sorry, Robina didn't get fire this anti-aircraft gun. display only lah!

NS does have its uses...

Alvin's spiel

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