GreenThumbs: Quintet

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TBH’s precious. He was feeling a little hurt that I haven’t bothered to snap pictures of his pot of Paphios.

So here they are.

They seem to be thriving. When we bought the plant some five weeks ago, there were five blooms and we haven’t lost any of them to the massive downpours that we have been getting lately. Yet.

It is amazing how much time he spends each morning and during the weekends watering and tending to our houseplants.¬† ūüôā¬† It is a good thing that he doesn’t travel very much for work these days.¬† I don’t relish waking up 15 minutes earlier just to spray his orchids whenever he travelled.¬† I would be spritzing at the plants with my eyes still closed.

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Old World Coffee, Prawn Noodles & Kedongdong Juice

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Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Chin Mee Chin with a book. I was looking forward to eating their custard puffs and was disappointed that they didn’t have any. ūüôĀ I don’t think their coffee, kaya toast and pastries are fantastic. Old-fashionedly good, yes, but you can get better elsewhere.

CMC is one of those places that I enjoy going to not just for the coffee and toast but for its old-world, traditional ambience (ie people shouting at the top of their voices in Hainanese…!) and because it holds memories of my growing up years visiting this Hainanese coffeeshop. At Nam Kee Chicken Rice along Thomson Road and Yet Con at Purvis Street, one will experience the same atmosphere and decor as CMC. Erm, standard of service too….which is rather spotty, bordering on rude most times.

All these new-fangled places such as Ah Mei, Toast Box, Coffee and Toast would never be able to reproduce that sort of charm, and skill of course, that comes along with having thin and grumpy Hainanese pek-dehs (old uncles) make the coffee and toast and shrivelled-looking ah-nians (old aunties) man the counter and run the place.

In Hainanese, we call coffee (or kopi) ‘go-bi’ which is a very much stronger and bitter version when compared to the usual local kopi.

Like my grandfather used to say, no-one can surpass the Hainanese in making go-bi and toast. It is in our blood. Who am I to argue, given that my great-grandfather came to Singapore from China and ran his own coffeeshop. Unfortunately, he also ran it into the ground with his gambling addiction. My mother grew up in the coffeeshop and learnt how to make a cuppa since she was a kiddo.

After go-bi and toast, I drove down to a bakeware shop at Newton Circus called B-I-Y to look for a 28cm square cake pan and white chocolate. Both are needed for my baking session with K this weekend. Not fruitful. It’s a pretty shop with many lovely baking things but I figured that I could have a higher chance of getting what I want at good old Phoon Huat.

Feeling parched and somewhat hungry, I decided to drive to the Cambridge Food Centre to eat Wah Kee’s prawn noodles and have a tall refreshing glass of kedongdong juice. I love drinking the lardy-prawn broth after stirring in piles of sambal chilli. Don’t really care for the noodles and prawns. But having said that, the prawns served by this stall are very fresh and delicious.

Filled the tummy. Quenched my thirst. Found the much-needed baking trays and white chocolate. It would have been a great day if not for the evening downpour thwarting my jogging plans.

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Couple Chopsticks

Mom and I spotted these chopsticks during our Chinatown walkabout yesterday. 

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^ Chopsticks bearing Chinese surnames

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^ Chopsticks imprinted with animals of the Chinese zodiac sign

I found them quite cute and I liked the eye-catching colours. Mom said that it’s auspicious to buy new chopsticks during CNY so I did. Bought four pairs of chopsticks – one pair each¬†with our respective surnames ‘Chen‘ and ‘Shen‘ and another two pairs with our respective zodiac signs.¬† Mom also bought two pairs with the surnames of my dad and hers.

I have heard of couple t-shirts, couple bowls, couple watches, couple-whatever.   Perhaps we can call these our couple chopsticks.

Ewwwwwwwwww.¬† Couple chopsticks – what a vomit-inducing term.¬† Please let me throw up!¬† BRB! ūüôā

Windmill Spinners

Jalan-jalan-ed with mom at Chinatown today.

Starved the entire day so that I could eat my pig’s intestine’s soup at Chinatown Complex but they were closed for their mid-day break!

Damn, even my usual juice stall has changed hands and the new owner does not sell kedongdong juice.

Sad.

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Love these colourful windmill spinners at a shop in Chinatown. Pretty. Mom and I just stood around and watched these rainbow colours in the strong breeze.

Dining Out: Cocotte

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Dinner at Cocotte. Finally got a table after several attempts to get one in the past weeks.

Kick-started dinner with some appetizers — which were not too bad but nothing to shout about — and a tiny glass of wine. Needed some alcohol to calm my nerves having had a blasted time navigating the Little India traffic on a weekend evening. I very nearly mowed down a few Indian workers along the way. I figured that the alcohol would have pased through my system by the time we finished dinner.

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We shared the roast chicken for the main course and ended with lavendar ice-cream and a lemon curd tart.

Four words about the taste — just not good enough.

I have no idea why they thought the carcass should be served together with the carved-up roast chicken. Was the carcass meant to be eaten..? And the lemon curd tart…now, when did they bake it? Perhaps two days ago..?

Also, need to abandon this Lumix point-and-shoot — the photos taken with this camera come out hopelessly grainy — and get a better one.

Blueberry Muffins & Sea Cucumber Gunk

My fridge has been smelling really bad for a week or so. Everytime we open the fridge, we have this funny seawater-ish smell going up our nostrils. For a while, I thought the foul smell was a mixture of kimchi and everything else that was in the fridge. But I couldn’t exactly pinpoint its origins.

Okay, my fridge WAS crammed full of stuff so it wasn’t easy trying to find something, let alone the origins of a foul smell.

I finally had it today.

I cleared everything out of the fridge and could finally see what was causing the smell. A leaking bag containing an uncooked sea cucumber that my mother-in-law had given me some time back. There was a tiny puntured hole in the plastic bag and the liquid in the bag had seeped out, dripped down the sides of the fridge, hardened and bits of it were stuck to the sides of the fridge. Took me quite a while to remove the gunk.

There was so much stuff in the fridge that I do not remember buying. Like maple syrup. When did I buy maple syrup? And why would I buy that? I hate maple syrup. Why do I have two bottles of balsamic vinegar? Three boxes of blueberries?

Anyway, I did plenty of cleaning up and become reacquainted with my fridge again. Threw away foodstuffs which had expired, re-packed all the dried foodstuff neatly in containers and re-arranged how the items are kept in the fridge. Love my extremely neat fridge now. Lets see how long this clutter-free state lasts.

I really have to stop buying things on a whim, and to check what’s in the fridge before I do my grocery shopping. I also have to consciously use the stuff that I already have instead of adding to the clutter.

So I made blueberry muffins again. One box down. Two more to go.

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Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

I’m in a baking mood.

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I love the black sesame flavour. Black sesame gelato, the Chinese dessert, black sesame cream, tangyuan with black sesame filling. Sometimes, I like to sprinkle my rice with some black sesame seeds.

Now, I can add black sesame chiffon cake to the list.

Some parts of the cake still look dense. Suspect I overmixed the batter. But overall, the texture of the cake is springy-soft and moist.

Quite happy with the outcome. Unlike many of my other cakes, this one didn’t have to head for the trash-bag.

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Jdorama: Hooked On Anime

I have never watched very much anime. Recently, some of my teenage classmates in Japanese language class told me that anime was what got them interested to learn the Japanese language. Listening to their discussions with each other about the latest animes made me curious to check out the anime world.

And these two animes caught my attention…!! Itazura Na Kiss and City Hunter.¬† I am not sure if these¬†are the most fashionable ones to watch right now since I could barely catch the names of the animes which were recommended to me.¬†

I didn’t quite like the Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean drama adaptation of Itazura Na Kiss. The Taiwanese version – I watched part one and didn’t bother with part two. The 1996 Japanese version – 15 minutes into it and I was so bored. The Korean version – storyline was as bad as the Taiwanese version but there was eye-candy to motivate me till the end.

Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2008 Itazura Na Kiss anime because it is super cute, heart-warming and entertaining.  Unlike the characterizations in the dramas, the female protaganist didnt come across as dumb, naive and hopeless. She was spunky, a bit of a bungler, idealistic but with a good heart.

Now that I have completed Itazura Na Kiss, I am resuming City Hunter which is also good.  Each episode is short and sweet Рabout 25 mins max.

Watching these on the Internet streaming sites!

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Vanilla Chiffon Cake

I love chiffon cakes. Bengawan Solo’s pandan chiffon cake is my favourite followed by Tampopo Deli’s cheese chiffon cake.

Eversince I ate the cheese chiffon cake last week, I can’t seem to get chiffon cakes out of my mind. So I decided to try baking one today. A plain vanilla cake, using the recipe from Keiko Ishida’s book. I’ve never made one before and have no idea how my first attempt is going to turn out.

Upon the recommendation of a friend, I bought Keiko Ishida’s recipe book. It contains gorgeous pictures of cakes, tarts, cookies, desserts – most of which are stuff that I love – and easy-to-follow recipes with a Japanese twist. Love the photography.

I would have bought her book just for its cover. A lovely picture of a black sesame chiffon cake. Black sesame. Check. Chiffon cake. Check.

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I suppose the cake turned out fine. Just that it is a bit ‘ka-tek’ because my tube-pan is slightly bigger than the one recommended in the recipe. Some parts of the chiffon cake are not springy. Think that’s because I didn’t mix the meringue thoroughly with the egg yolk mixture. I saw streaks of white meringue here and there in the mixture when I poured it into the tube-pan.

Anyway, happy happy. Tried doing something new today.

I shall try the black sesame chiffon cake next.

Dining Out: Brunch @ Oriole

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Had a lovely brunch at Oriole with K and PG.  Scrambled eggs on toast. Scones with clotted cream and jam. A Mexican platter of eggs, chorizo and tortillas.  One round of prosecco and coffee to round it all up.

K ordered the house special coffee known as chilli chocolate mocha which is an unusual concoction of fresh chilli juice with risetto.  It tastes like a normal expresso with a slightly spicy aftertaste.

Shopping followed brunch!  Some clothes and books for me.

Rain Towels – Keep Or Throw

I have been doing some major spring-cleaning the last couple of months. Every other day, I would pull out a drawer, go through the stuff and throw things out.

I’ve already given away slightly more than half of the books on my bookshelves to the library.

I’ve identified about a ton of clothes which I have not worn in the last six months, packed them neatly in paperbags, waiting to give them away.

How did I amass all these clothes, most of which I don’t even recall purchasing. I felt really awful while cleaning up. All the money wasted on clothes that I hardly wore and some never even seeing the light of day, having been stashed away in the far corners of the wardrobe. I knew I wasn’t ever going to wear these things but for a long while, I just couldn’t bring myself to give them away. There is always this “maybe I will want to wear this one day” thinking that prevents me from decluttering.

It is no wonder my fridge is always full. Full of old, expired foodstuffs. Mouldy cheeses. On-the-verge-of-rotting fruits and vegetables. It’s so GROSS. Why can’t I be one of those super neat and organised folks?

Old CD albums that no longer work, ancient VCDs, cushions, pillows, drinking glasses (good grief, why do I need like 3 sets of drinking glasses…?). I am on a roll. Once I get into decluttering mode, I can’t stop.

Then I found these in one of my drawers. Rain towels.

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I still can’t decide whether they are ‘to go’ or ‘to keep’.

Picking Saga Seeds

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Had a delicious kway chap lunch with C at Old Airport Road and chatted for a couple of hours at the hawker centre, oblivious to the crowds around us. At least I was oblivious; not sure about her! ūüôā

Then I headed to Medi-ya at Liang Court to see if I could find my Korean banana milk. None to be found. Sigh. Ended up buying a tub of Haato gelato in two flavours – yuzu and black sesame – and Tampop Deli’s nama chocolates and a slice of cheese chiffon cake.

Yoyow! The chiffon cake is really good. Light, moist and airy. Now, I want to go back to the shop and get the whole cake.

While waiting for TBH to knock off, I decided to pop over to Fort Canning Park for a walk. It was nice and cool after the rain…and I saw plenty of red saga seeds lying around on the grass. Just waiting to be collected!

So that was what I did Рhunched over, rustling amongst the grass, soil and piles of dead leaves, picking up saga seeds, piling them on a huge leaf.  I like hunting for the pods and plucking the seeds off them.  When I was a kid, my neighbours and I would have this competition to see who can collect the most saga seeds in a day.  And playing hopscotch.  That was how we amused ourselves then.

It has been a long while since I saw black saga seeds. Wonder where I can find them.

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