Saturday, February 24, 2007
My best friend Cheryl Anne came to my house a few days ago and we were reminscing about old times when we started talking about food. She tried my Dad's Ayam Buah Keluak and totally loved it (except for the black nut... it really is an acquired taste I guess!) Us girls then started talking about how things were in Secondary school, and then she casually asked how did I come to love food so much. She noted that I wasn't that much into food when we were in sec school. That dear girl remembered what I usually ate during recess too! haha...
I started to ponder about what she said because true enough, I do enjoy food but it was only in recent years that the passion tripled - that explains this humble food blog and how I became an avid baker and cook. My ultimate dream when I was a mere child was to be a world renowned writer. Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were my inspiration. They helped me with my imagination and it ran wild with dreams and ideas.
Fast forward to today, and I am happy to say that I still love writing (it's my one true love) and right now, I am also equally passionate about doing something with my baking to inspire others. Eden is my current project and I am determined to give my best. I believe God has blessed my ministry (Amplify) and I with a bunch of dedicated people who will go to great lengths to serve.
So... some of you might be thinking, yea it's food, so what? haha, it is a big deal to me. Food is a central part of my life. Growing up, my maternal extended family (my mum has 7 sisters, and I have 15 cousins at present) always gathered during special occasions like Chinese New Year, Christmas, birthdays and holidays. Food was always a central part of these gatherings. Every family meet was greeted with anticipation and curiousity. My 7 aunts can cook - and a few of them are seriously talented. You can imagine how it's like, to be treated to a buffet of home-cooked delights all made with love! I don't care how cliched it sounds, but hey, I can really taste the difference.
Most of my memories are marked with traces of smells, tastes, lovely crispy bits of sweet and sour, spicy and bitter. Culinary memory milestones I call them. Events that bring back that whiff of freshly baked bread or doughnts, chiffon cake, etc. Each food item holds a memory and vice versa. That's how my mind works I guess. When you're brought up in a family that places an emphasis on good homecooked food, then you'd naturally have 'food values' inculcated one way or another. Food is a sign of hospitality too and I like that. I get excited when I bake for others.
Today I have plenty of yu sheng photos that I took during Chinese New Year at my grannie's place. All my relatives from my maternal side were here. There was good food and I was too busy to take shots of every dish but here's a peek at my aunts' yu sheng. Homemade and totally fresh! Cheaper too....
The plate's darn H-U-G-E!
Here's the tossing.... "Lo Hei" they call it in Cantonese, I think.
Many hands and pairs of chopsticks make for more prosperity? Yes? Not? Whatever it is, the yu sheng tasted good... hahaha..
Check out this gold bar:
It's edible! The whole bar! Someone gave it to my aunt. It's some butter cake sprayed with edible gold paint... I think it's cute. But I heard it doesn't really taste good. Don't know how much they sell it for.
Anyway I think today was the 7th day of the Lunar New Year and it's everyone's birthday! So Happy Birthday to you, you and YOU!
*P.S. For all who have been asking me about my bake sale, I will have one in the holidays, probably in April so look out for it! I'm itching to bake! I haven't baked much since I started the semester at SMU. Busy busy busy me... ahhhh.. okay I have got deadlines to meet!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Dad's nothing short of excellent when it comes to whipping up culinary gems in the kitchen. He often reminisces about his childhood kampung days in Malacca when he was younger; how he helped his mum prepare meals and mentions with much pride, of his mum's finesse in Peranakan dishes including Devil Curry & Ayam Buah Keluak. I can't help but thank God for my Dad's Peranakan roots - it sure helps to keep my Perankan food cravings at bay :)
Food plays a huge role in my home. It's probably because Dad is such a great cook and tries to cook at home whenever he can. Being a family-centric man, he'd rather have a homecooked meal at home than eat out. I can see why - seriously, I'm a huge advocate of homely food. There's nothing like gathering together at a table and talking about your day and enjoying the delectable spread in front of you.
Today's the first day of the Lunar New Year and in Chinese tradition, families usually celebrate on the eve with a reunion dinner. It's kind of like a day where family members would gather and share a meal together. People who are overseas fly home, and those who are busy usually make an effort to be home with the family.
This year, our dinner included Dad's super yummy Ayam Buah Keluak (chicken curry with black nut), a typical Peranakan dish. My my, the buah keluak rocks my world. Though it is an acquired taste, the black nut goes down well with me. "Black Gold" I call it:
Detractors might refute and call it black s*** but I really couldn't care less. Haha, this is heaven to me. There's just something so appealing about a mysterious smokey, musky black paste that sends waves down my oesophagus - well, after it makes an impact on my tastebuds.
Then there were prawns:
Butter prawns cooked with black pepper. Simply divine. Oo-la-la!
And in my household, chilli is a must-have. No chilli, no smiles; for me at least :p
... and for my Dad. Both of us consume the most amount of chilli and it's not hard to figure out why. We live for spicy and totally dig our curries, sambal and fresh chillies.
To complement the 'Sey ba' (or kong ba as it's more commonly called - it's pork cooked with soy sauce, honey and spices like cinnamon, ginger, star anise etc), we had some red hot chilli:
My favourite way of eating sey ba, is to wrap it with lettuce and add a generous amount of that chilli above. The taste that explodes in my mouth is too yummy for words. The savoury tinge of soya sauce accompanied by the slight sweetness from the honey makes this dish a winner. Dad's known for his sey ba.
Don't you think it looks gorgeous?
Mmmmmmm..... I really must say that this year's dinner totally rocked my world. But then again, Dad's food always rock my world - so well it's either that I'm just biased, or I'm really satisfied. I think it's the latter because I ate so much of everything!
Anyway here's wishing all of YOU a very Happy Lunar New Year! May you get loads of red packets and enjoy the good eats :)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
As someone who has a sweet tooth, I find it hard to hide my excitement when presented with a chockful of saccharine sweet treats.
I have to confess that I prefer soft candies to hard ones. Perhaps I like my candy to have more bite. Chewy candies I can take, and more so if it's made with nuts!
Weird is the word to use. I have weird food preferences, or maybe I just like interesting combinations of food. My tongue is my taste panel where I seek out new depths with different cuisines and food.
Mediterranean food ranks high in my 'favourite cuisine' list. There's just something beyond exotic about various Mediterranean food that gets to me. I love grains, and yes I do love my hummus (chickpea + tahini paste) and baklava.
Not only is Mediterranean food tasty, but also sexy and very appealing - the way they dress their food with spices, how they utilise the most down-to-earth utensils (think of the tagine in Morroco). I won't dare say I'm a Mediterranean expert, but I do know a good thing when I taste one!
Who in the world uses the adjective 'sexy' to describe food? I happen to be that person and I'm the sort who can literally fall in love....with a tantalising dish or in this case, sweets...
These sweets were given to my aunt and had free access to them when I dropped by her place. I was really lucky because she had only gotten them the day before.
This one has ground pistachios in it, and it's encased in a thin crisp shell - a dream to bite into. Yummy. Told you I have a thing for nuts...
Then there's the date rugelach:
Miniature date rugelach rolls - they're adorable and soft and full of date-goodness. It wasn't too sweet as well. That's the thing about me, I can't really stand artificial sweetness - I prefer natural sweetness that comes from food like honey or dates.
And speaking of dates, here's a cool date with a walnut in the centre:
These are very fun to eat! The nutty crunch that awaits you on your first bite; that's what I call a nutty surprise. Dates and walnuts taste good together.
I have a sudden craving for these sweets right now. Ahhh...
Thursday, February 08, 2007
With Chinese New Year just round the corner, I couldn't resist a visit to Chinatown. Besides, I had every reason to go there last Sunday since I was playing tour guide to Urzsula and Janet. Both girls are international exchange students I met at SMU. Urzsula's from Poland, while Janet reigns from Holland. They were so much fun and I pretended to be a tourist and started snapping some photos. It's nice to capture the Chinatown spirit during Chinese New Year.
Though crowded, the buzz at Chinatown provided for a truly local experience. Both girls got a glimpse of the huge appetites and 'patience' of Singaporeans - the long queue for Lim Chee Guan's bak kwa (barbecued minced pork) said it all. What entrances me every time I visit Chinatown during this festive period is the splash of colours that line the countless makeshift stalls. You almost feel as if you're in another part of Asia. Or perhaps it's just that I'm very much a visual person and can't resist taking in the rainbow that stands before me.
Sweets are a common sight at Chinatown. There's no shortage of mochi sweets, preserved fruits & chocolates. Sold by the grams, it's just so tempting to grab every single colour and every type. I had to stop myself from picking too much. In the end, I bought $5 worth of those Japanese mochi sweets. They're really chewy and come in so many flavours - durian, honeydew, chocolate, yam, strawberry, green tea, etc. I love the green tea one.
After much exploring and squeezing through the crowds, us trigger happy girls decided to drop by People's Park Food Centre to appease our tummies.
This is where I let the pictures to do the talking:
That chee cheong fun 'sushi' roll was the most interesting fusion thing I have eaten so far. It wasn't my first time trying it. Thing is, everytime I ate it, I forgot to take a photo of it. So now I shall share this piece of goodness with you. Urzsula and Janet loved it. They were rather amused I must say!
Urzsula tried the Almond Soya Milk from Mr. Bean and I think she liked it. Okay, here's the thing, I've been telling her how wonderful the soya milk here is. The soya milk she's tasted before were not so fantastic I guess! But here, soya milk's everywhere and I guess she got curious. Anyway she thinks that the Almond one is tasty.
Janet and I had the popular duck rice (didn't copy down the name of the stall but it's quite obvious - check out the one with long queue and many certificates from Makansutra, Green Book Awards etc)
I think it was yummy. The rice was pretty ordinary I guess. Maybe I'm used to eating duck served with brown coloured rice. Anyway this stall is known for it's char siew and roasted duck. Not so much for the rice. haha. The duck didn't disappoint and I loved their sauce. Mmmm...
It was a really breezy evening and the three of us took a walk after dinner and snapped more shots of the beautiful light-up. Beautiful end to the week I think. I've invited Urzsula for a homecooked meal some time soon and will definitely post about it.
Anyway pardon my lack of posts - the school term at SMU is pretty heavy these few weeks. Can't wait for Chinese New Year! I wanted to hold a bake sale but my current busy schedule didn't allow me to. Maybe during the holidays I will. :)