30 May 2007


Gyoza with Black Rice Vinegar and Garlic-Chili Dip

I had been making gyoza all afternoon and was really happy to be able to update my missing-in-action blog with something about these babies that I made from scratch. But, the photos turned out really crappy and sucky. Bah! It's really frustrating to have taken out nice little plates and saucers, arrange and garnish the little pot-stickers (I made mine the size of a har kao) as prettily as possible, painstakingly make sure the dipping sauce wasn't all over the edges of the the saucer, take tons of photos... and realise the photos were all out of focus! Argh!

Ok, but Mama always said to learn from one's mistakes so that it wouldn't happen again. So, I sat down and analysed the situation.
  1. I think the shutter speed was set too low. I usually used a shutter speed of 1/20 but today I set it to 1/13 (not just for the fun of it, it wasn't as bright as usual because I took my photos at 4pm today instead of the usual 9 - 11am). I'm not really sure if that little change was so absolutely significant, but well, it's good to K.I.V.. I just realised I used to use a shutter speed of 1/80 (not 1/20!). That totally explains why! For a moment there, I thought I was getting Parkinson's.
  2. I didn't use a tripod. Oh, don't look at me that way.
  3. I didn't check the thumbnails before proceeding on to the next photo. (But the thumbnails are so puny!)
  4. People (read Mama) were walking in and out and giving all sorts of comments ranging from the type of garnish I should have used (I used spring onions and she said I should have used coriander) to how I should have arranged my gyoza to which pair of chopsticks was better. So I was distracted.
  5. I was struggling between using the chopsticks with my right hand to pick up gyoza and dip it into the sauce in a aesthetically pleasing way and putting my eye at the view finder and taking the photo with my left hand with a freaking heavy digital SLR. Am I just telling you how stupid I am?

Despite all that whining, not all is lost and I still have a couple of decent looking photographs to show. And I just want to say the piece of fabric I used as a tablecloth is just too adorable to not mention.

26 May 2007


Nutty-Fruity Granola Bars

May has passed me by without even turning her head to look at me. Work is, at long last, on hold and I'm taking my long awaited holidays! Cooking, baking, going around the island to take loads of photographs, cycling, swimming... Not forgetting, shopping shopping shopping! The sales are here!

And you thought I had died with my blog back on May 7...

07 May 2007

Tag! You're It!

Oops! I've been tagged. By Mae of Rice and Noodles. A fellow blogger, she's one of those who I look towards for recipes and great photographs. If you haven't seen her site, you have to! Then you will understand why she inspires me so much. But don't go on an empty stomach! Don't say I didn't warn you...

5 Things You Don't (Might Not) Know About Me!

I haven't been looking the way I am now for all my life. In fact, for the larger part of my 20 years of existence, I've been looking quite different. I've been overweight since as far as I can remember and only managed to shed the pounds only recently (2 - 3 years ago). I lost the weight through dieting and mandatory physical education lessons in school. I was, at my heaviest, about 65kg (almost 130 pounds) and 50kg at my lightest. Unfortunately, the flabs are back to haunt me again! Not that they have thoroughly disappeared before. It might be due to my genetic disposition because I seem to put on weight from breathing air. Hence, I'm still on my low-carb diet, which I sustained from 3 years ago. I avoid carbohydrates, and being Asian, it means I give it a miss when it comes to rice and noodles (I'm referring to the Asian meal staples, not Mae's site!). And because I have to use up the energy that I ingest, I'm trying to get myself out of the house more often to work it off. Some people say that you won't be happy if you keep yourself on a diet all the time, but I think I'm still enjoying life, and food! Hrm... Maybe that's why the weight has been coming back.

When I said I had been looking quite different for the larger part of this 20 years, I wasn't only referring to my size. You see, if you consider kindergarten/pre-school school, I would have had long hair for all my schooling years. Thus, all forms of identification that holds my photograph shows me with long hair. The only time I had my hair at a length which did not allow tying up was when I was 8 and it wasn't by choice. I had at times left my hair uncut for about 4 - 5 years and it would grow past my waist and reach around 90cm. But now, I'm sporting the shortest hair I've ever had for 6 months and I'm loving it! It might come as a surprising move on my part but I've been toying with the idea for quite long, just that the perfect opportunity hadn't come. I saw the cutting of my hair as one big liberation and I walked out of the salon happier than ever. Now I can't imagine myself getting my long tresses back, at least not in the near future! Coincidentally, my younger sister who had always had short hair is growing hers long. Ha, it all comes round in a circle.

I think evolution is the word.

When I was young, my working parents engaged a babysitter/nanny for me even before I turned 1. My nanny, which I affectionately call Auntie, took care of me and saw me through most of my waking hours. When my mother left for work in the morning, she would walk me to Auntie's place, which was just a neighbouring block. I would eat, bath, nap, do homework, watch TV, all at Auntie's 3-room flat. Only when I turned 11 did I stop going to Auntie's place on daily basis. I'm still very close with Auntie until now and often drop by her place for dinner, though in declining frequency these few years. Bad me. However, I always tell myself I have 2 great mothers and that's something not everybody has! Up till today, I still reminisce about Auntie's fried rice: leftover rice, egg, spring onions and lots of love.

I would think I was quite a bright kid when I was much younger because I always did well in school. In fact, I had a record of being in the top 3 places of the class, if not the cohort, from kindergarten through primary school. Despite the fact that I've always been doing well, I would always worry myself sick when exams came and cry everyday because I was so afraid to fail. But that never did happen. Then came secondary school and it went kinda haywire. From Secondary 2 onwards, the results weren't as stable as before and in the case of Mathematics, nosedived. By that time, exams didn't worry me no more as flunking was common. Despite the change of attitude and aptitude, I graduated from secondary school with 8As and 2Bs and junior college with 2As and 2Bs. Not bad, I would say. Now that I'm in fashion school, I'm starting to pick up my momentum again and am striving hard for a scholarship. My last result slip saw 15As out of 16 modules and a grade point average of 3.9 out of a maximum of 4.0. In case you haven't already realised, yes, I'm showing off. =) Just once.

I have an image of what my future would be like. I would like to have my own business, just a small one that keeps me busy and happy and sustain a living. I think I'm quite fickle and indecisive because up till now I'm still having second thoughts of what I will want to do for a living. I know I'm in fashion school, but I would still like to set up a small cafe/bistro/bakery to fuel my love for cooking. I want my future house to be landed property, and that might eventually take me out of Singapore. I want to be able to plant my own vegetables and flowers and fruits and I like the idea of eating right out of your backyard. Oh and a Franjipane tree would be such a great bonus! If it does mean moving out of Singapore, somewhere temperate would be nice. Japan would be a great choice, so would England, maybe Australia, or even New Zealand. Oops! This could go on forever... Did I mention a perfect husband and 3 beautiful children?

Now that I'm done with my list of 5 things you might not know about me, I hope you I haven't bored you to death! So, would you like to have a go at this meme too?

01 May 2007

What's Your Definition?

Nostalgia (noun) [no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-]: the plate of fried noodles with sweet sauce and sesame seeds at the coffeeshop at the corner of the row of shophouses. Also the fried carrot cake that was always slightly charred but fragrant all the same. And the putu mayam that's so simple yet delicious with the sprinkling of shredded coconut and red sugar. Not forgetting the tutu kueh - fresh and warm, prepared on the spot. The roti prata, hot and crisp, served with sugar and curry at the little shop nestled in the corner of the kampung. What about you tiao and bey huay ji with a warm soya bean milk?

What's nostalgia? The above might apply to only me (Dictionary.com disagrees with my definition. Hrmph.), but don't you agree that many memories are based on the food that you've savoured oh-so long ago but still able to smell and taste it now with the slightest thought? While most of the items on my childhood breakfast menu have all been "sold out" or made "not available", I'm glad that one of the simplest yet tastiest breakfasts is just a short walk from home.

Oily no doubt, but who can resist deep fried dough (think donuts) for breakfast? One bite and the brown crisp exterior gives way to reveal a soft, fluffy and dough-y center. I'm not going to tell you how much I hate those chewy "stuff" (the vendors claim them to be you tiao and bey huay ji but I beg to differ!) that remind me of eating overcooked squid. At 50 cents per piece, this breakfast is inexpensive (money wise), yet decadent (waistline wise!) at the same time.

So, what's your definition of nostalgia?

Xi De Li You Tiao
Blk 39 Old Airport Road
Singapore 390039