Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hello, Domestic Goddess Wannabe!

Oh I'm so excited to introduce you to this amaaaaaaazing cook! Her blog's filled with drool-worthy photos and her recipes are so clear and so easy to follow (not that they're always easy recipes), thanks to her step-by-step pictures. It's no wonder that The Domestic Goddess Wannabe has been crowned the Best Cooking Blog!

Diana is a self-taught cook and baker (there is hope for us yet, folks!). She is passionate about food and fell head over heels with cooking and baking. "I'm also an ex-school teacher, hence teaching people how to cook and bake is something that comes pretty naturally to me - which is why I write at The Domestic Goddess Wannabe. I strongly feel that more people should cook and/or bake and I hope that by simplifying recipes and explaining with the aid of step-by-step pictures on my blog, more will pick up a spatula, or a whisk and make something at home!".

And just for you, I sneak into her kitchen for a peek. And while you read this, I shall google 'spatula' and 'whisk'. Oh and by the way, if you'd like the recipes for all the yummy things you see here, simply click on the name of the dish to be linked away!

But first, hello no-bake Strawberry Cloud Cake!





What are the top 3 tips you have for a newbie cook?
1. Don't be intimidated by recipes - everything can be broken down into manageable parts. Deal with each part one at a time!
2. Read the entire recipe before you start baking or cooking. As you read, picture the steps in your mind. In this way, you'd have "made" the item once (in your head) and chances of getting things wrong are a lot lower.
3. Measure all your ingredients and have them ready to go. For a newbie cook, things can quickly go South if you are not well-prepared.

2. What are some of your favourite recipes?
Favourite Daily Meal Recipes
One-pot dishes like this: Old-time beef Stew

Shanghai Style Braised Pork Belly

Favourite Quick Snack/ Side Dish Recipe
Myulchi bokkeum - korean stir-fried anchovies

Favourite Dessert Recipes
Oreo Cheesecake


Favourite Special Occasion Recipes
Absolutely the best yellow cake with swiss meringue buttercream


3. Have you had any recipe disasters?
For sure, but they don't make it to the blog. Like this Coconut Custard Pie I made today. It ended up all shrivelled and extremely ugly!! EEEK!



4. Who takes your step-by-step pics!
I take all the pictures for my recipes. While it was not easy at the beginning, I am pretty much used to it now but at times it can still be a challenge because I am right handed and it is awkward at times, for example, when I am trying to hold food with a pair of chopsticks and take a picture at the same time!

******
 
Once again, hearty congratulations on bagging the Best Cooking Blog award! Diana, everybody!


Friday, September 26, 2014

Fun for Free Friday #2: Animal Resort


Bring: insect repellent
Time required: 60-90 minutes.

******

If you're looking for a laid back kind of place to spend a weekend morning feeding a couple of geese or walking among free-range peacocks then Animal Resort is probably your kind of place.

I'll be honest with you - this place will probably not appeal to everyone. It is as kampong as you'll get in this cosmopolitan city, plus, the Zoo (with all its fancy stuff) is way more accessible, that's for sure. But for those who don't mind getting a little closer to nature, then old chap, I say there's really no harm in giving Animal Resort a go.





Lest you get confused between rustic and run-down, here's the deal: It isn't sit-on-a-hammock-with-a-cold-beer-in-hand kind of rustic. It's a zinc roof, wired fences, watch-out-there-may-be-poop-on-the-ground kind of place. It smells like it too.

Yes I find it quite necessary to point this all out. You know, just in case anyone comes back from their trip and waves a fist at me, screaming "You didn't tell us!". Well, I did. This is probably as un-Singapore as you will get, in Singapore.




It's a rather fun mix of animals - there's the lovely horse (and there are signs around saying that it's not as tame as it looks so do think twice about trying out a cowboy routine and hopping on it and screaming out yee-hah), some geese, a marabou stork, a cassowary, peacocks and a few small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. Oh and the rooster. Of course, the rooster. Strutting around like a boss.




There's food for sale (for the animals) so you don't need to bring your own. Plus, it's really reasonably priced too - $2 for 3 packs of food that you can choose to give to any of the smaller animals, or carrots for the horse. 





I suppose you could always Google for "cassowary" and "marabou stork" before your visit, so that you have something to tell your kids about them? Apparently the marabou stork is the guy who delivers babies in the night.

  


Watch out - one of these guys can yell "Hello!" really loudly! And they're sneaky too. They don't do it when you ask them, but rather yell it out when your back's turned. Oh and keep your eyes peeled for feathers on the ground - they make lovely souvenirs of your trip!


 


If you drive, then getting there shouldn't be too difficult. But we don't, so it was. Let's just say that there was a whole lot of travelling and waiting for us that day! It was worth it, in the end :)


The Animal Resort
T81 Seletar West Farmway 5, Singapore 798061
Open daily, 10am to 6pm
Closest MRT station: Sengkang, closest LRT station: Farmway

It's off Jalan Kayu so tell taxi drivers that if they don't know where it is. Look out for Ju Eng Home as your landmark to make a turn.

More fun for free ideas here! Till next week on Fun for Free Friday!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Talking to Carrots

As a child I was like any other; I enjoyed playing and would often find myself gripped with dread because I had played the whole day and left my homework unchecked in my bag.

So my parents came up with the rule of "finish what you have to first, then play". In other words, prioritise. 

I teach the same to my 6-year old, and still practice it myself. For example, one of the things I find myself doing a lot is setting stuff on the stove to cook before washing and wiping my hands to go play with the kids. 

But the thing about preparing food is that sometimes it can be rather therapeutic. Unlike bringing up kids, the results are rather immediate. I mean, you take a whole bunch of stuff and put them together et voila, a full delicious meal. 

I'm not saying that bringing up children pales in comparison; I'm saying that it takes longer for the effects to be seen. 

Anyway. 

The kids know that when Mama is in the kitchen, technically everyone should be out. Because I work with dangerous things like knives and work. Things that could possibly hurt them or myself. 

But sometimes they come in to get random things, and sometimes they stand at the doorway asking me to look at them as they do a funny dance, or ask me a question that could probably wait till after, or sometimes they are more aggressive and forward and grab my hand and pull me toward their play area. 

Most times I say "in a minute, baby", and sometimes it's really a minute and other times it's more. Some times I don't even show up, hoping they'd forget. 

My logic is that if I abandon my cooking and go play, they'd be happy but after an hour everyone would be hungry. Plus, they should learn to play independently or with each other, right?

I try to maintain eye contact when they talk to me. Really, I do. I think it's only sincere. Not to mention polite. 

But sometimes it's just not possible. Like when I'm cutting carrots. Or when the oil is sizzling and I have a fish between my fingers, waiting to be cooked. 

I turn over soon as I can to talk to them. But sometimes I'm answering them but my eyes are toward the carrots. Like I'm saying "Ok we can do some painting after", to my carrots. And then when I look up at the kid in question, she's no longer looking at me. She's either gone off or worse, looking dejected

Can a 2-year old look dejected? Can a 6-year old give up on her Mama? I'm not sure but I do know that I'm going to work very hard for that not to happen. 

I hope to remind myself more and more that my job is to be with them in their growing years and not to work toward training up to take part in a Masterchef tv show. 

And besides. Talking to kids is way more fun than talking to carrots. 


Linking up with

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Embracing the Now


It was one of those days for me - I'd seen a couple of nice ideas on home improvement on some blogs and started to get fidgety and unsatisfied with my own home.

My home's always been a rather work-in-progress kind of place, and even though we've lived here for a long time, I've not had many moments where I would sink into the sofa and look around, and sigh and say "Yup, this is it, my home is perfect".  Because it's not.

The baby's starting to use the sofa as a canvas, bits of paint peeling from the walls from where they've been bumped by little ride-on cars and little doll prams, re-flattened pieces of furniture that have yet to be put on sale and are currently hiding in corners around the house. For the longest time, we've been talking about the possibility of getting ceiling fans for the bedrooms, but haven't done so. Why? Dude, if only I knew.

But what gets on my nerves the most is that the dining table's too far from the window so it doesn't get any sun, which means when Poppy does her school work there (we don't have a proper work table for her because there's no space for it, and she's too tall for the IKEA baby range to sit comfortably for too long), we've got to have the light on, and I really don't like having the light on in the middle of the day.

And so my husband, my wonderful husband, sees my grumpy face and starts throwing ideas around. Perhaps we could move a few items around and try to swap dining and living areas? What he was proposing wasn't impossible, but it involved quite a bit of work. Plus we had both I-don't-want-to-nap kids with us, who really wanted to help.


We did it anyway. A whole afternoon of measuring, moving furniture, vacuuming, cleaning, trying not to trip over little children helping.

And this is probably where you'd expect me to say that I'm totally happy with the new change. Well. Let's just say I'll need some time to get used to it. There's still lots to be done. Lots of tweaking. A few nights of waking and walking to the toilet without bumping into things. Stuff to throw, stuff to repack, stuff to buy. I'll need to, I don't know, put up some things and move more around to get used to the view from where I sit when I'm working on my computer.

But you know what? Amidst the horrid mood and the frowns and the irritation of everything thrown together, this happened:


And it hit home: I've been busying myself in an attempt to create a nicer home for everyone to feel happy and relaxed in, but I failed to realise that the little ones don't care if our pillowcases match, if the dining table is messy, if toys are thrown all around, or if the window grilles are a little (or a lot) dusty. They have all they need to be happy.

Maybe I will grow to like this new arrangement, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll have to make a few more trips to IKEA, spend a couple more hours on Amazon, check out a few more pseudo antique shops for the look of our home to feel more 'in place'. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. But for now, I'll learn to live with it, and try to enjoy it, as my children do.

Ps Poppy got up to pee and said "Mama, I like the house like this; it's very nice". Of course, it was also an attempt to stay up a little longer.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Fun for Free Friday #1: Fort Canning Park

We love exploring, and believe that Singapore has many interesting spots to discover and enjoy if only one knew where to look. Some places are hard to get to, some are conveniently located, but all of the places you will see in this Fun for Free Friday series will have one thing in common - they are all completely free. Enjoy!

Note: Fort Canning Park also organises free guided tours, but it's open all year round for free for anyone who wants to visit; we simply went on a stroll on our own. National Parks Board also offers a free worksheet!

Bring: hats, sunnies and insect repellent!
Time required: about 2 hours

******



We set out one afternoon and headed with Fort Canning Park with a simple goal - to collect saga seeds. Ultimately we did achieve that goal, but oh, the many other things we saw at Fort Canning Park! Did you know that Raffles built his bungalow here? Neither did I.


There are a few entrance points, and we usually go by the Stamford Road/National Museum side. This time, we went via the River Valley Road entrance (opposite Clarke Quay, near the colourful old High Street Police Station or current MITA/MICA building). Note: If you're going on a saga seed hunt, we didn't see any along our walk, until the very end.


 




It's sometimes refreshing going by another route because we saw so many things that we didn't know existed. Like Picnic Terrace for instance. On a cool day, I'm sure this would be a lovely place for a picnic. Along the way, there was also a 9-pound canon! Apparently it was more decorative than defensive; it fired 3 times a day to announce the hour back in the day.





Our most amazing find of the day was hands down, the Fort Canning Lighthouse. That's right, a fully functional, though non operational, lighthouse! This one is a replica of the original that used to stand at Fort Canning Hill. In the 1950s, the growth of tall buildings around made it pointless to keep the lighthouse functional.

At the Maritime Corner, you can also read about the other lighthouses (yes, we have more!) around Singapore.






While it was interesting to know that there was an archeological dig and exhibition at Fort Canning Park, the display itself wasn't very exciting for a 6-year old. I suppose our 6-year old expected to see dinosaur bones and the likes. But for adults, they might be interested to know that the Archaeological Dig shows an actual archaeological excavation site, the only one in Singapore.



Spice Garden may be easily missed because to untrained eyes (like ours); the plants and spices may be mistaken as regular greenery, and there is lots of that around Fort Canning Park. But what is unmistakable is the scent - we smelt pandan, and lemongrass, but there's also nutmeg, and cloves, among others .





Just further down there is Singapore's first Christian cemetary. George Coleman, who designed the old Parliament House, as well as the Armenien Church, is buried there. Along the wall are many headstones, and the memorials of Coleman's widow, and infant son. Creepy? No. Peaceful? Yes.

I love how the roots of the trees made their way within the bricks!


We just kept walking and walking and walking and the kids were starting to get a little fidgety because there were still no saga seeds in sight. And finally, we got to Fort Canning Green, and lo and behold, little red seeds. They're right at the old graves, along the pavement leading to the road, and kind of scattered around the grass. You might have to dig just a little as not all the seeds are in plain sight, which makes it even more fun! We must have stayed there for about half an hour, just searching around.



The beautiful gothic gate. Or otherwise known as 'the entrance to the party' when there are parties at Fort Canning Green. The IHS carvings stand for Iota Heta Sigm, the first three letters of the Greek work for Jesus.






Just across the road is the National Museum of Singapore, or better known as 'pee stop' if you will. We took a little walk down toward Park Mall for dinner, and just outside, there is a dried up fountain decorated with dragons and an immense amount of saga seeds.




There's lots more to see at Fort Canning, like Fort Gate and Fort Wall, the sally port (a hidden door that leads in and out of forts), The Battle Box, but the sun was setting and we decided to call it a day. Plus, not everything is suitable for little children. But we'll be back! If you're interested to go on a colonial history walking trail, check this one out.

More fun for free ideas here! Till next week on Fun for Free Friday!


  © Theme Designed by Patricia Alix-Villa of Fancy Girl Designs 2012

Back to TOP