Mom came over to my place today to hand down some of her recipes – Chinese steamed pumpkin cake and rempah.


The problem is that she doesn’t have exact measurements of the ingredients, but arbitrary estimates that she pulls out of her ear.

“Four bowls of water”. What sort of bowls – big, medium or small?

“One spoonful of starch”. Erm.

“Half an Australian pumpkin”.  Half of a BIG pumpkin is very different from half of a small pumpkin, or even a medium-sized pumpkin.

“$5 of fatty pork” or “an amount that is the size of your fist”. Okay. Is it $5 of fatty pork for half a pumpkin or what…?? And am I supposed to tell the butcher to sell me some pork that is equivalent to the size of my fist? Will he throw the cleaver at me?

“Why do you need exact measurements..? No-one gave me exact measurements. After you make this a few times, you’ll know how much ingredients are needed.” Yeah, that’s just brilliant.

That’s one of the reasons why we have shouting matches whenever we are together. Not just because we have Hainanese blood in our veins, but because we operate very differently in the kitchen.  I like very dangerous objects such as KNIVES to be laid flat on the table or in the sink when not in use; Mom likes to wave them at me when she talks to me.  I think she might just POKE me in the chest with a knife one of these days.  She thinks my kitchen is an utter mess – she is the ‘keep your workstation clean all the time’ sort of person and I am clearly, not.

That was for the steamed pumpkin cake. It was the same arbitrary measurements for her rempah.

I am still none the wiser after spending the entire day with her in the kitchen. It was quite fun though.

Culinary Pick-up #001

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