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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Duck and Coffee

Everyone of us will know a relative - maybe even our parents who are great cook and well known for a particular dish be it curry, some ethnic dish or the ever popular ngo hiang. And so it is no different with me. I have a maternal aunt (my mum's brother's wife) who stewed a great Teochew braised duck. 

So we look forward to this once a year treat every CNY cause with the passing of Grandma, this is about the only time we visit her and her family. The duck is yummy - soft and tender and cut thickly the way I like - not like those hawker centre style nowadays where they slice it so thin that you can hardly taste its favour. And the hard boiled egg. Somehow, she has the skill to do the perfect hard boil egg in black sauce. If it wasn't so sinful, I think I would have easily polish off 3 eggs! And the best of the dish is the black gravy. Thick with the right consistency it goes down well with white rice and I swear I can just eat it on its own with rice! 

The other wonderful thing that she churns out is coffee! Yes somehow she can take plain ordinary coffee and turns it into a pot of wonderfully fragranced drink. Not for her, coffee with milk or no sugar. It has to be thick and flavourful with sugar. And brewed the traditional way with the 'sock'. And just for this drink, I sacrific my integrity and drink my coffee with sugar. Once a year!

Hmmmm ... can't wait for next CNY:)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reunion Dinner

Reunion dinner like for the past few years was buffet dinner at one of the hotel. This year for the 2nd time running we went to Salt Water Cafe at Changi Village Hotel. An ulu place but good for us. No problem with traffic, parking and crowd.

The food was so so. No yusheng and mainly Chinese food. Heard that the salmon was not fresh so didn't take that. The black pepper crabs were all cut into such small pieces that I didn't even bother taking. Skip all the chinese food going instead for the barbecue and deserts. Anyway, at my age, not really a big fan of buffet since stomach cannot digest so much food but still it beats eating at Chinese restaurant where the food are overpriced, overcooked and everybody got to eat in shift!

1 thing is despite the extended 'families' eating together, it seem much more subdued at our table which consists of Mum, the 4 of us and bro and his daughter. The other tables where sis was with her inlaws were so much noisier and seem more fun.

Maybe that's the problem with small family. After some time, there isn't really much to talk about especially if everybody is busy with their own lifes and does not keep in touch often and everybody seem like strangers after a year or so of absence.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Those Supermart Cashier and their plastic bags

I seriously think the cashiers at Fairprice are trained to use more plastic bags. Every time I am in the queue, I am absolutely aghast at the amount of plastic bags they use to pack the groceries.

Just like this afternoon, the guy in front of me bought 3 carton of drinks. All came in carry away boxes so logically there should not be any need for plastic bags. But no, the cashier put each carton into not one - but 2 bags, why because she told the guy - the drinks are heavy! Yeah and that's why the manufacturer packed them into easy to carry carton! So 6 plastic bags for 3 carton of drinks that don't need them in the first place.

And then there is their peculiar habit of separating the wet stuff from the dry stuff and the edible from the non-edible. So if you buy say a bottle of sauce, some fruits and vegetables, a bottle of detergent and a packet of egg, how many plastic bags do you get? 4 - yes 4 - one for each item. Fruits and vege goes together, detergent cannot be mixed with food stuff, eggs can get squashed so 4 bags.

I am truly amazed. And the cashiers always look at me like I crazy when I repack all the things they packed for me and give them back the extra bags. Telling them is no use. They simply don't understand or they are so well trained that die die they must use as many bags as possible!

Then there is the other extreme. For daily small purchases, I have a small reusable grocery bag and the funny thing is the minute I produce the bag, the cashier will try to squeeze everything into it nevermind that the bag look like it is going to break.

I seriously think the chain is just paying lip service to the go green movement despite their public vow of support. Cos if they really support it full heartedly, then they can jolly well have everyday as bring your own bag day instead of just Wednesday. And the reason why they don't do so? Cos the bags are a cheap form of advertisement!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Taking Aquarium Photos

Been trying to take a decent photo of the fish tanks. So did a lot of research and finally got round to taking it.

1. Get a tripod - check
2. Set to aperture priority and set to lowest aperture possible - check (lowest was 4 on the camera)
3. Set ISO to 400 - check (heck kiasu a bit went on to 800)
4. Switch off all other room lights - check
5. Use manual focus - check
6. Set camera at slightly higher angle - check
7. Forgot anything?Yeah...... how to stop the *&%#%( fish from swimming so that they can stay in focus!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Songs in my Head

I hate this period of the year. Not so much the CNY celebrations but the non-stop incessant playing of the CNY songs. It's enough to make a grown man cry.

Christmas was bad enough with the Jingle Bell and Frosty the Snowman but CNY.......
The songs - it so cheena. And so loud. My hairs stand on end everytime I hear the Kongsi Kongsi ni or some other variation.

Luckily we are not the shopping type otherwise I surely go mad listening to them over and over again. It's like pure torture!

Talking about torture, in the US, a judge actually ordered people to be subject to non-stop music such as the Barney song and songs by Barry Manilow! Read here. Can you imagine, locked in a teeny wheeny room with the music going full blast "kongsi kongsi kongsi ni, yea. kongsi,kongsi, kongsi ni ye..........

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Growing Old?

These few days there has been these few songs constantly playing inside my head.

Not the usual pop songs but chorus and hymms which I used to sing to with gutso when I was in church. 

Am I going bonkers? Like those people who keep claiming they hear voices in their head?

Or just sign of growing old 

Or somebody out there trying to tell me something?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mama's Chicken

Passed by this new place in the afternoon and decided to go back in the evening to check it out.

With a name like Mama's Chicken, no prize for guessing what is its specialty.

The menu was a mix of local and Australian style food. There was "Ang Moh" chicken as well as local chicken all prepared in some curious mixture of fast food cum cafe style. The sign at the counter says Self Service but the waitress came to take our order and delivered all the food.

We ordered the house specialty, the Parmagiana, which is a chicken patty with cheese and tomato sauce on top served with french fries and peas. This is supposed to be the Australian influence meal although me think it is more Italian than Australian. Anyway, it didn't taste too bad and its portion was big enough.
We also ordered a grilled chicken, a bowl of Chinese Chicken Noodle, a cold pasta and a fish & chip.

The grilled chicken was liked those we get at supermarket like Carrefour. It was fairly well done and not too dry. The Chinese noodle was quite unique in that it didn't use the usual wanton mee or instant noodle but a sort of very thin crunchy noodle. So how was the food? At average price of $6.00 to $8.00, it was certainly good value for money. The portion was of decent size. The food was okay. Nothing fantastic but I had tasted worse and for the ambience and price, I really can't complain.

Too bad the place was totally empty. We were there at 7pm on a Saturday night and it was empty! Diners on East Coast Road on weekend evenings are usually jammed packed but not this one. We were the only customers throughout out time there. A lady did walked in, browse through the menu and promptly disappeared through the back door. Me think with its type of prices, it should do much better if it were in a food court instead of a shop house.

Very likely the next time I pass by the place, it will have close down.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Big Brother is Watching......

Cameras are everywhere nowadays. The voyeurs have spy cameras in hotel rooms, changing room, toilets. The government have camera on highways, shopping areas, buildings have cameras in their lobbies, parapazzi of course are everywhere. This really remind me of the closing line from Alan Fudd on the Candid Camera: "You never know but somehow somewhere - you might be on candid camera!" Perhaps one day the pervasive reach of the camera will reach into 100% of our lives? Just watch the Truman show and you will know what I mean.

So is reel life going to become real life?

Back here in Singapore, we haven't got to such extreme to film a family daily lives but scientist are putting spy camera to spy on the daily life of.... can you believe it.....

Hornbill...... yes hornbill, not Horny Bill but hornbill as in the bird with the big beak and I don't mean big pecker:)

One small step for Singapore one giant step towards loss of privacy?

What will they think of next? Put a camera in a house to observe how a family live, what they eat, what they do, what they failed to do? Actually I think that has happened in some TV program in the US already?

Ha ha ha.. anyway, for those who die die need to know what the hornbill does in its house, oops I mean nest - it's up on Youtube! Enjoy the show

Monday, January 5, 2009

Poor Helpers

They built our houses, keep the floors clean, repair our roads, and do all those things that Singaporean do not want to do and what do their get for that?

Ride in the back of trucks and lorries, subject to the harsh elements, stay in shacks that even we don't house our pets in, left to die when sick, treated like slaves without pay and treat as unclean in housing estates..........

I really disgusted with the attitude of employers who treat our foreign guest workers like dirt. I don't like to call upon the gahmen to do this or that, I have always believe that we should not cling to the apron string of the gahmen but in these instances, the government should come forward and protect the legions of foreigners working here. Not just the construction workers but the domestic servants, the food stall helpers and the many low skilled workers here.

Don't just ban these employers from employing foreign workers. They can always get around the ban by using sub-contractors. An eye for an eye. A teeth for a teeth. Make the guilty employers stay in the shacks they call dormitory and see how long they can tahan the stink I have been inside one factory unit that was illegally used as a worker quarters squeezing in close to fifty workers staying there in 2 shifts and the place stinks to high heaven. And I am not even going to mention the state of the 1 toilet that was there! Deprive the employers of wages, food and medicine and see how they like it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Greetings

It's already the 2nd day of the new year and almost over as well. 

What are my wishes for this year?

World Peace? Ha ha that will take a miracle for it to come true and miracle are so scarced nations will probably fight each other to get one:)

Economy rebound? That also appear to be a pipe dream. Economist and financial experts don't see much light at the light of the tunnel yet so I guess this will have to wait until 2010.

Good health for my loved ones, relatives and friends - That would be nice but it need the co-operation of the receipients and if they don't take care of themselves, wishing them tons on good health is not going to help.

Happiness for everybody - There is a Chinese saying that Happiness is to be found by one ownself so people will have to make their own happiness.  How to - in these times of uncertainty, of job insecurity, rising costs, food scandals.

Sound so depressing yah... 

Still no harm wishing - so 

I wish for the World - World Peace, 
for the people of the world - a quick economy rebound and fortune rebuilt
for the people I loved, relatives and friends - Good Health 
and for everybody - Happiness in life and in everything that you undertake