Sunday, October 29, 2006

weasel in the garden

spotted a large weasel-like thing in our apartment garden this afternoon. it's about two feet long and has yellowish fur, short but upright ears. the way it ran reminded me of the loping bounding way that Toddy, our toddycat (palm civet) runs. I think it's a pine marten although our security guards call it a "weasel" in Chinese (literally yellow mouse wolf). this was the first time I saw the mustelid in broad daylight, usually I see them at night when I'm bringing Sally on her rounds. needless to say Sally got very excited and her terrier instincts kicked in. she tried chasing after the weasel/marten and went sniffing after the tracks.

laksa today

day 2 of Prima stock clearing. the laksa was basically idiot proof, dump everything in and boil. we used the rest of the prawn stock from yesterday. substituted spaghetti for yellow noodles or thick rice noodles. even Robina, who's not a laksa fan liked it!Sally got steaks for her birthday treat. not all at one go, but rationed out over the week. I dumped in some rice to soak up the beef gravy. Sally practically inhaled her dinner.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

mee siam cookout

We were trying to clear our stocks of Prima Taste premix packs. So it's mee siam for today and laksa tomorrow. bought a lot of prawns from the wet market here. boiled the whole lot to get the delicous prawn soup stock, kept half the stock for tomorrow's laksa (yes, we really clearing stock!). de-shelled the prawns to go with the mee siam. stir-fried the sambal mix with the beehoon.
the wet market in Beijing don have our kind of tau pock (fried bean curd) but they have something similar. they also don have our kind of yellow noodles for the laksa unless we off-load some from our Singapore restaurant here. no worries we can substitute with spaghetti.
Mee siam gravy with prawn stock.
Sally got ONE prawn and half a hard-boiled egg to go with her breakfast. she spent the rest of the time hanging around the kitchen hoping for goodies to fall out of the sky.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

General Yuan's Shrine

As a history buff, I finally visited General Yuan Chonghuan's shrine. I've always wanted to make a pilgrimage there after reading about the shrine's story on the net. A patriot and wily general, Yuan was executed by the Ming emperor who was duped by the invading barbarian Manchus that Yuan was a traitor. It was remarkable that Yuan was a confucian scholar rather than a soldier to begin with. But Yuan managed to defend against the Manchu in Northeast provinces when he was the commander there. Yuan was an expert with artillery and constructed his defences around his imported long-range Portugese cannons. Yuan was able to defeat the Manchu in a key battle and even wounded Nurhaci, who later died from his wounds.

In 1629, Yuan had to divert his forces to relief the capital Beijing under seige by the Manchu armies. Against all odds, Yuan led the outnumbered Ming cavalry to defeat the Manchus, one of the rare times that Manchu cavalry was defeated in open engagements. The battle was so tough that Yuan was fighting with his back against the city walls at Guangqu Men (gate) and his armour was reportedly studded with arrows that he resembled a porcupine.
Having fought off the Manchus, Yuan was executed by the idiot Ming emperor on trumped up charges of treason. The Manchu duped some captured Ming eunuchs that Yuan was selling out the Ming. Yuan was ordered to be flayed alive and the Beijing people was baying for his blood since everyone believed that Yuan was a traitor. A loyal soldier under Yuan, surnamed She, secretly stole Yuan's head (the only part of his body left intact) and buried it in his house near Guangqu Men. Since then the She family had guarded Yuan's tomb for over 370 years. Yuan's loyalty and maligned charges only came to light in 1782 when the Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong recognised Yuan's loyalty and his innocence.
I was very impressed when I read about Madam She Youchi's (the 17th generation of the She family) quest for decades to plead with the city authorities to preserve Yuan's tomb and shrine. The shrine was finally accorded heritage status in the 1990s. It was poignant that the shrine was located near Guangqu Men, the very place where Yuan had fought so desperately to fend off the Manchus. Now the old neighbourhood was unrecognisable with so many highrise projects surrounding the shrine.
When I visited the simple shrine, I was amazed by Yuan's loyalty and the poignancy of his death. It was not surprising that the Ming dynasty fell not long after Yuan's death at the hands of peasant revolts and the Manchu invasion. I was also impressed by the loyalty of the original She ancestor (now buried next to Yuan) and his descendants. As a fellow Cantonese (Yuan and She were Cantonese), I share some of this pride. Madam She has a small office at the shrine. I was told by the staff there that she comes in very often but she was not there on the day I visited.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sally and her basket

Robina spotted a cane basket and couldn't resist getting it for Sally. it's actually meant for human babies, so there. I told Robina that she could stuff Moses into it...
Back home, Sally just hopped into the basket and made herself comfortable. I think she like to plonk her chin on the edge of the basket.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

potato chips and chicken

tried out the "healthy chips" recipe from Jasmin's blog. very simple indeed. just slice potatos thinly. brush olive oil or butter on the foil and on the chips. grill in oven on high (I use 220C for 10 mins).
the thinner chips came out slightly charred. but the rest were very crispy and tasty!
dinner was roast chicken drumsticks marinated in lemon juice and spices.
assorted veges n potatoes
chicken rice prepared with Prima pre-mix.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

nil carborundum illegitimi

or "don let the bastards grind you down" in dog latin.

after whacking some asshat with a slipper, Robina has taken it further by kicking up a fuss with two rude sales girls at the infamous "Silk Market" shopping centre in Beijing. she told me the story over the phone when I was back in S'pore last week for a working trip.

apparently she was at Silk Market with Joyce and Melissa. They were browsing at a shop specialising in Hello Kitty stuff (IPR challenged of course). This shop was the only shop there selling Hello Kitty stuff and they had the best range compared to other places. This probably explained why the sales girls had such a lousy attitude.

Joyce was pushing a pram but she was not obstructing anyone and there were no one else apart from Robina's group. Apparently, Robina was a regular customer at this store and the boss knew her (unfortunately the boss was not around at that time). Robina suddenly heard Joyce talking loudly with one salesgirl who was complaining that Joyce was blocking the way with her pram (which was not the case at all). The two girls went on and on until Robina lost her patience and told them off for being so rude to customers. They retorted that Robina could complain if she was unhappy. Normally, Robina would let it pass but the lousy attitude of the salesgirls that totally pissed her off and she decided to pick a fight. She approached a security guard who was standing nearby and asked him where she could go to complain. The guard was surprisingly polite and went off to bring back a manager.

Robina told him the story about the rude behaviour from the salesgirls. In the meantime, Robina was getting so agitated that she was almost tearing (lending more credence to her story!) Turns out that the boss of the store showed up and the manager proceeded to tekan him for the lousy service for his salesgirls. the manager told the boss that the building management could fine him for such customer complains. the boss also recognised Robina as a regular customer. however, the salegirl now "changed" her face to becoming smiling and polite (even more infuriating!). now Robina unleased her full fury on the "biaatch" and tekan her for being so rude, right in front of the boss and the manager.

most of us rarely stand up for our own rights and Robina kicked some ass that day! I will ask her to add her version of the events later

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

riding session

we went down to the riding school on saturday since it was the beginning of the Oct golden week holidays. Robina was supposed to ride as well, but couldn't do so due to a clash in sessions with another one of her coach's students. it ended with Joyce and I riding while Robina went around snapping pictures. Boon Peng and Jovien had fun watching Joyce ride.
For me the heavy lunch at Malacca Legends was a big mistake for the subsequent riding. the food was great tho, chicken rice, bak kut teh and teh tarik were all excellent. that's why we ate too much and too quickly.
Since I was an infrequent rider unlike Robina, the first half of my session was a recap of what I learnt previously (and forgotten by now!). Joyce was a quick learner and was into her rising trot. altho at one point I heard a scream from Joyce's paddock when her horse accelerated all of a sudden. but all was well since she was still in the saddle and not on the sand!
Jovien managed to keep herself amused while the adults were riding. I brought her to feed sugar cubes to the horses after I finished my session.

Alvin's spiel

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