Friday, February 22, 2019

Spicy Penne all'Arrabiata


Regular dinners at home also means food for the man and something less meaty for me. One such compromise is a piece of braised beef rump (in an oven bag) and spicy pasta all'arrabiata. It takes less than an hour to do, and with minimal fuss.

The man found the beef rump in the supermarket. The meat came marinated in an oven bag and it's meant to be placed sealed into the oven. It's perfect because it keeps everything so neat. There isn't any mess to sort out after marinating and I don't have to scrub that oven tray like crazy. My counter-top is almost streak-free after dinner prep. Wheeeee!

I kinda need carbs, yes, at dinner. I'm not on any type of diet and my body likes a bit of carbs now and then. I like this pasta to be spicy, so it's two chilli padi and chilli flakes. The secret to good spicy penne all'arrabiata is adding anchovies and white wine to the tomato base. Meatballs or sausages could be added to the pasta too. It'll be a fantastic one-dish meal. But today, we didn't need that. We already had the beef as extra protein. Of course there was an extra portion of penne for my lunch the next day. I love having it cold too.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sugar At Breakfast!


It's not like I completely avoid sugar. I'm not fond of it, but it seems as though that my preferred choice of breakfast often ends up being sweet and quite high in sugar- in the form of granola, fruits, yoghurt, smoothies and such. I can't do all of them together though. It's either this or that, otherwise it's too much food for the stomach to handle in the morning. And...jeng jeng jeng, as organic as they can be, they're mostly processed food!

Yoghurt with fruits is my default breakfast on most days. Natural or Greek-style yoghurt can be sweetened with honey if necessary, but often, fruits would do in the usual blackberries, blueberries or strawberries. Figs and persimmon too, when they're in season. But once in a while, I ignore the sugar content and go for broke with Beillevaire fig yoghurt.

Currently I have an additional breakfast option of bread and dark chocolate spread. L got me a lovely Belgian dark chocolate spread from Le Pain Quotiden. That works great with a cold glass of full-cream milk. It's very filling, and while I would love to quaff two slices of bread, one is usually sufficient for my needs. One slice provides all the energy needed to rock up to the gym for HIIT classes.

I can't quite do without granola. Love that crunch. I'm not keen on baking granola at home, so I still end up buying them, and the ones from Marks & Spencer are surprisingly decent, and low on sugar. Chocolates with granola at breakfast is such a luxury, and I will indulge in it. Since I usually do milk with granola, I figured that it would be all healthy. HAHAHA. I can easily nibble on 90% cacao, but since Christmas gave me windfall of dark chocolates as gifts which included a few slabs of delicious 70% dark chocolates from Lemuel, those would do too. I opened up the one from Chiang Mai to go with the granola and muesli. Mmmm. 70% ain't too be bad. Makes my breakfast taste quite divine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Casual Chats & Pilates

You know how unfriendly I am, but I do get the occasional friendly smile sent my way, and if the vibes are right, I reciprocate. After all many of us wish to keep our privacy, but don't mind extended chats as long as they stay at a level below superficiality and above genuine effort. :P

Between R and V, A, N, W and I, we have this acquaintanceship. We've only known one another for three years through a shared love of pilates, regular practice and a rather frequent exchange of opinions. These exchanges are done in a safe space, and slowly allows us to find out that we're all on the same thought frequency and share common points and outlook. Whewww.

Of course we have a WhatsApp chat group. It's filled with hilarious stuff, videos and lots of comments about... pilates. Hurhurhur. It's especially helpful when I get strains and aches that I can't quite diagnose via the internet and I just ask if anyone else has experienced the same pains. Oof. We don't specially meet outside of this sphere, unless we're randomly grabbing coffee or food after class or heading to specific pilates workshops.

We arranged lunch that afternoon after class because V is relocating to Hong Kong, and we wanted to say farewell properly, outside of the studio. It's enjoyable because while these bonds are warm, and we do extend help when we can, there isn't an expectation of 'must' or 'obligation'. We know enough of one another to be comfortable with other topics of conversation. It was really lovely to sit down for a long lunch, and linger on over smoothies and coffees. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

元宵節 :: 狗守太平歲、豬牽富裕年


The man kept monopolizing the kitchen to cook on the weekends. Obviously his foods lean towards meats, pasta and Indian, which can be heavy. And I really wanted to do a Japanese-Chinese fusion meal for J and L. Finally found a chance to do so one weekend for the dearest friends.

Since it was still the first fifteen days of the lunar new year, I went for broke and made Chinese dumplings- 白菜碎肉餃子. These aren't supposed to be gyoza or shumai, so I made them round and fat. The BFF demanded her portion. She said she could eat 40 at one sitting. Well, my small kitchen set-up and limited patience meant that I could only make about 50 at a go. And these weren't for her! Kekekekeke. She showed me a photo of the dumplings she BOUGHT. Wah, do jiaozi have this standard shape? They look like mine! Hurhurhur.

This is a test batch. It's the first time I made jiaozi. I can do gyoza and shumai, so I suppose jiaozi aren't very different.The sheer volume meant that I wasn't going to pound anything. Took out the micro food processor to mince up the filling. Goodness. It was soooo messy! Luckily I was clever and made the 49 dumplings on a day when the part-time helper was due. Hurhurhur. She could blink at the giant mess I made, tsk at me and cleaned it up. #ImpieCooks2019

The jiaozi went into the freezer to await the final test- our tastebuds. The friends came over for dinner. The jiaozi went into a light soup topped with ebi and bok choi. Fried up tofu and vegetables, seared two small fillets of grouper, and uhh added my easy strange non-crispy sweet and sour pork. I hoped the friends were okay with the simple dinner! They brought wine, ever-generous in sharing their stash. Excellent choices of red as usual.

春節過年包餃子吃餃子,不全是‘招財進寶’的意義。我親手揉麵粉弄餡料包餃子,都是希望大家在新的農曆年裡事業順利、生活過得充實美滿健康。

📷: L.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Punching Up


I don't suppose this article is of interest to anyone who has no interest in this genre of music. 'Heavy Metal Confronts Its Nazi Problem' by Colin Moynihan, published in The New Yorker on 16 February 2019.

This article was a lot to digest. It was in part a comment inspired by a weekend metal festival Black Flags Over Brooklyn, organized by Kim Kelly. It's not a review of the festival, it's tracing the link of how music and politics are now more closely tied than ever.

Held over 25-26 January 2019, Black Flags "... was organized as probably New York City’s first anti-Fascist extreme-metal show. It was planned partly as a celebration of an underground form of music that has traditionally thrived on images of drama and danger, and partly as a response to a subgenre known as National Socialist black metal, which espouses neo-Nazi views and has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as aiming to recruit youth to white-supremacist causes."

I love doom metal. Metal soothed the angst of my youth, it calms my adult aggression. Did I know what I was listening to? Of course? I went to school, I could read and discern between what lyrics read and what adults said in criticisms or reviews. Back then, I was told that it was Satanic and unholy and it's the occult's doorway to hell and such. Duhhh. Now the danger isn't the sanctity of my eternal soul. Of late, the term NSBM has been trending. National Socialist Black Metal. Far right metal. To me, this is not a good thing.

The festival, he said, could be seen as part of an effort to reassert the spirit of metal, which has a history of challenging power and giving people who don’t feel connected to the world around them a place to belong. “The promise of the underground, regardless of the style, whether it’s metal or punk or hardcore or grindcore or whatever, is one of subversion and resistance,” he said. “Danger isn’t about punching down. It’s about punching up.”

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The New Hashida Sushi


Stepped into Hashida Sushi for the first time at their new home. What a lovely gorgeous two-storey space. It was quiet and inviting. It almost felt like stepping into a sushi restaurant in Japan. I hope the Mohd Sultan Road fengshui benefits it. So many shops along that stretch have come and gone.

Choices of sake were on point, and since we didn't drive, we went to town with it. By the end of the night, we probably drank two liters of sake.😂 As usual, I requested for no maguro or hon maguro, and absolutely no meiji maguro. No akami, toro, otoro or chutoro. I also skipped ebi. Didn't feel like having it that night. They know my preferred tastes, so at a sushi restaurant of this calibre, they know how to feed me well still. All the hikarimono sushi please. ひかりもの寿司を全部お願いします!

I couldn't stop laughing at the dessert platter. There were some manju and yokan thingies, and dunno what else. I didn't touch it beyond two courtesy nibbles. While the restaurant has never been known for their desserts (let's not quibble about fruits) and mochi, pastries and such, but tonight, A MERLION. REALLY?! You decided to give me a Merlion pastry for the additional birthday touch for 2019. You should have seen how I cracked up.

コノシロ | konoshiro | gizzard shad
(otherwise known as 'kohada' コハダ, which isn't quite accurate)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Sangria & Tapas


Burst out laughing when the girlfriend said we could have an early Valentine's dinner. Hahahahha. She was away and now that she's back in town, she wanted to take me out for my birthday meal. I was like, I'm free on Valentine's Day, take me out! She didn't want to date me on 14 February. Chehhhhh. 😬

Off we went for an easy dinner at The Tapas Club. Of course they would have a Valentine's Day menu. At least this isn't a set menu whereby we're restricted to some stupid pricing and horrible 'special' food items. We could simply pick our preferred tapas and paella from the usual menu. Okaaaay. That sounded fine. Grilled Padron peppers, quail egg and chorizo on toast, and a squid ink paella. I was a happy girl. The paella portions are small, but sufficient for two persons if you also order tapas. At S$26, it wasn't that big a pile of carbs to plough through. Since we weren't allowed to replace dessert with an extra tapas, we picked the standard churros with chocolate sauce. The churros came heart-shaped. 🤨

I was really there for the red sangria. One jug. Woooohoo. I wanted a light cold drink. It had been a long, annoying and searing hot day. Sangria is such a refreshing drink at any time of the day. Tonight, it answered my desires, and the wonderful company soothed away the stress of the day.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Slice of Blackforest Cake


Before the BFF flew out (again), she wanted to have a 'birthday dinner' with me. I asked to eat at Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique Cafe. She was a little stunned because she couldn't figure out what on earth I wanted from the menu since the cafe is known for their meats, and well, pork knuckle, and I'm not the biggest fan of meats.

Well, I had the bigger surprise for her—I wanted to eat blackforest cake. HAHAHAHAHA. It's not often that I have a craving for cake. I like a well-made strawberry shortcake, but they always lean sweet. Haizzz. I wanted this particular blackforest cake because it contains loads of alcohol and a salted caramel base. I’m well aware that alcohol masks the ‘sweet’ profile, and the sugar level isn’t lower than other cakes. There’re a few online bakeries that do a good blackforest cake, but I couldn't be bothered to order a whole cake. I wanted one slice, not many slices. Since it was supposed to be dinner, I might as well find a restaurant with decent food which also offers slices of okay-enough blackforest cake.

The table ordered a platter of meat. Sausages, roast pork belly and such. They skipped the pork knuckle and chose the main meat as a whole small spring chicken. Hahaha. As if that made it healthier. I ordered more sides to nibble on- fries, mash and coleslaw. Picked at bits of meat and that was it. German food is honestly not my favorite thing, and yes I know the cuisine isn't represented by sauerkraut and pork knuckle. The spätzle here still couldn't make it. Spätzle at most restaurants in Singapore kinda suck.

I had earlier called the restaurant to ensure that they reserved three slices of cake for us. I was thrilled to finally get to dessert. LOL After protesting that she couldn't eat one by herself, the BFF ate it anyway. She's the one with the serious sweet tooth. The slice of blackforest cake was absolutely satisfying. Yes, this would do fine. I wouldn't have another craving for this till...next year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lo-Hei At The Chengs


Hopped over the make some noise to huat the Chengs' new home. It wasn't exactly a housewarming party, and half of us have visited, but it was nice to gather at the Chengs to send out happy sounds to all corners. We did a lo-hei; the Chengs said this was their first lo-hei in the home. Awesome. All auspicious vibes!

Dinner was potluck and full of choices for the various palates- mee goreng, prawn pancake, la la (clams) with white beehoon done zi char style and chye sim with garlic; we brought chicken dhansak (no yoghurt, no coconut milk, no other milk) with basmati rice. J and L brought wines. There was a light Gewürztraminer (I think) that went surprisingly well with the spicy food. It was such a breezy night that we didn't need to turn on the air-conditioning till much later.

Then I got diverted away on a 'house tour' while the people downstairs fiddled with champagne and trotted out a fancy-pants-delish strawberry shortcake. For me. WOW. And they blasted a Cantonese birthday song at top volume like we were at an old-school Chinese restaurant. 😂

My birthday always lurks around the lunar new year. It's not a good thing, depending on how you see it. I try to keep it really quiet. This is a bunch of friends I see often, and during the lunar new year, we seem to always be able to do a lo-hei together at some point within the fifteen days. Oof! They seem to be able to keep catching me with a birthday song and a cake. I've managed to celebrate birthdays with them for years, and many of which are impromptu gatherings. So much love lah.

As much as I don't like being in photos, obviously I still appear in some group photos and such. Photos aren't so bad if we don't blast them all over social media and such. The photos (and videos) I have of this bunch are so heartwarming. I am nothing without the bonds of friendship. If I want good things to happen to myself, then I want even better things to occur in the friends' lives. When I blew out my birthday candle, I made a little prayer and wished for these friends' good health and strength, and for us to ride through 2019 with fortitude and grace.