Blog Feed

Happy Eid and Some Things I Made

Muslims all around the world celebrated the end of the holy month, Ramadan, yesterday. Ramadan is the month where Muslims fast for an average of 14 hours a day (depending on when the sun sets) and aside from abstaining from food and drink (and sex hehe), for most, it is the period to reflect, to be closer to God, to be more charitable, and to strengthen ties/relationships.

I am not going into how irreligious I am in this post (oops, but I am).

For Malay Muslims (in Singapore at least, and I’m pretty sure in Malaysia, too!), the first day of the Eid celebrations always includes a lot of food and sweet goodies to serve guests. As most countries are on some form of lockdown right now, most families who don’t live in the same household have opted to go on Zoom to celebrate. As a child I’d always hated Eid. Hated it! It’s the day people flex how well they’re doing in life (new big TV, new furniture (every year, how do you afford it??), new expensive tailor-made clothes, new husband (just kidding)). Which I felt (still do!) defeated the purpose of fasting and practising self-control. The part I have always liked though, is getting to see my cousins. We’re not that friendly, but my cousins are mostly nice folks who turn up for everything.

Food is always elaborate. We’re very communal people, so families would get together on the final day of Ramadan to cook several dishes together. In the past if you catered it’s frowned upon (aka you’re useless af), but now it’s more like the norm. Some common savoury food to serve include beef rendang (not my favourite thing to eat but I occasionally do), ayam masak merah (instead of cooking it in sambal, I think the difference is tomatoes are involved), ayam lemak or sayur lodeh, sambal goreng pengantin (which is a bitch to make, first you boil the heck out of beef, beef lungs, another type of meaty things you can choose liver or fat, and then you dice all that in almost the same size, then you fry, and then you cook all that in a spicy paste with a bit of coconut milk), and you eat all these heavy dishes with some rice cake (either ketupat or the lontong).

I don’t like all these food eaten at once because I’d feel unhealthy. I have stopped drinking anything sweet. I just drink water and some hot tea now.

Anyway for Eid my dad made rendang and I made chicken cooked in turmeric and some coconut milk. Sent some to my sister.

Then for today’s lunch I accelerated the whole Eid celebration by making something brothy hahah (it’s usually not for another two or three days)

Udon in spicy beef broth

Love it. I now just cannot wait for a bit of normality to kick in. I am bored staying home, and work can be a bit of a bore (even in covid best believe your colleagues can be stupid and try to blindside you). Speaking of work I think it’s best I try to learn how to make money myself because obviously working in an office just isn’t working out for me anymore. If you have any work tips just leave a comment because I’ve tried everything and I am just feeling like an absolute failure.

How was your weekend?

Croque Madame

When I was in my early twenties I got fired from my office job. I used to think it’s because the job didn’t fit my personality (and vice versa) and after about a month at home (I was fired, so I probably wouldn’t have gotten good, or any, references!) I applied to be a cook. I had zero cooking experience but I really wanted to try something other than administrative work. A sous chef in one of the French restaurants in Singapore hired me. It’s not exactly a restaurant (they wouldn’t call themselves that) but it’s not exactly a tea salon, either. They sold desserts (which I decorated), too, and I picked up some cooking. I was hired because I was cute (true story).

On my first day at the job I was chopping celery or potatoes, and I cried. I turned to my boss and told her I probably made a mistake taking the job, because I’d never teared so much in my life.

She laughed a little and told me “Nooo. I’m kind of heating up a batch of onions!”

One of the things I enjoyed making at home then (this was circa 2010, when I was still doing part-time university, and my brother was in full-time uni) was the croque madame. It’s not so much about how good it tasted or how easy it was to make, but I still look back at this episode in my life nostalgically. I always made it for my brother. Never mind I got fired. Never mind I took a job that paid half of what I previously earned.

It’s basically a grilled cheese sandwich, with a béchamel sauce (but I never make this at home!), topped with a runny sunny side up.

I made it today, and I was mildly upset with how the egg turned out, it was a bit burnt on the sides, but here you go:

In place of béchamel I opted to just put some cream sauce from a can.
Sprinkled some pepper and bits of coriander (the stem?) which actually gave it a bit of a crunch and some ‘herb-al’ flavour
Look at how my egg runs!

To make it just assemble a ham sandwich, you can choose to remove the crust, I don’t, and you put the sauce either on all layers or pour it over the sandwich. I added some cheese (don’t wanna spend money so I used block cheddar :p) and stuck it in the oven for around 8-10 minutes 150 degrees Celsius. Toward the end of the toasting you can fry your egg.

Voila! ♥️♥️

Like a true Singaporean who likes east meets west (haha) I ruined it by eating it with bottled chili sauce. Haha

Give it a try! If you’d like the béchamel recipe, let me know and I’ll give it in my next post.

Pizza is Always a Good Idea

I had an unbelievably tough day at work (I work from home nowadays) and when it was time to officially knock off I took my blood sugar levels, then went straight to the kitchen to make pizza on toast. Packed a few to deliver to my sister who lives 5 minutes away.

I like making them all sloppy and messy (Have no idea why!). Toppings vary. This evening I opted for ham, sausage, some of them had stir fried beef mixed with my tomato sauce.

What do you put on yours?

😍😍

Quick Dinner Tonight

With the circuit breaker in place (my country’s version of a lock down), I haven’t really been cooking. I usually just order (it is called GrabFood, and it’s my country’s version of Uber Eats). Over the past two months I’ve eaten a lot of Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese.

I eventually got sick of delivery food!

Whenever I reach this point I go back to basics that I can make at home. Nothing too fancy. Soups. Fried rice. Chicken in some gravy. Food I’ve, over the years, elected as ‘comfort food’.

Dinner was a perfect time for me to cook something simple. I was busy the entire day. I like my bowl or plate of food to be very colourful so when I’m not too lazy I opt to include some form of protein, leafy greens, some carrots cooked not too soft but not hard either. I don’t like potatoes!

In Malay cooking we usually sauté onions and a bit of garlic at the start. The Malays use a lot of oil especially when they make sambal, as it acts as a preservative so you could just stick it in the fridge or freezer for a long time and use it for all kinds of cooking. Onions sweeten your food, and when I cook I like that I am very aware and feel awake. I smell and taste test something great, I can hear the wok/pot sizzling, I can see everything happening. And of course I touch stuff. Just not anything hot! 🔥 (or parts of my body)

I don’t like yellow noodles at all so I stir-fried kway teow (flat and wide noodles). Other ingredients I used were thinly-sliced beef (they cook really quickly), some chye sim, and the paste was blended chili (store bought), some (maybe 2 table spoons) oyster sauce, some ketchup, and salt to taste (I don’t eat my food too salty). I don’t consciously use MSG in my cooking to enhance the taste, but I’m sure whatever I put (even whatever made from scratch) contains some form of not-so good things.

The result was OK. Nothing too exciting, but I felt very satisfied.

How do you like your noodles?

I Made Food

This evening for dinner I made beef noodle soup and baked some sweet Thai chili chicken.

The beef noodle soup turned out better than expected. The beef is really tender! I was a bit anxious because the Knorr beef cubes were out of stock. At home I only have Ikan Bilis (anchovies) and Tom Yam stock cubes but I was not desperate enough to use any of the two. I boiled my beef for two hours. Used some of that stock (I don’t like it just like that), put chopped lemongrass, a bit of vinegar, blended a huge onion, sauteed all those things, seasoned it throughout cooking, added water, threw some fish balls in, added chye sim, threw my boiled beef in, brought it to a boil and served it with noodles. The garnish was coriander and some fried shallots. I like eating beef noodle soup with cili jeruk (simple, cut up red and green cili, you can pour hot water over it, then add vinegar until the chili bits ‘drown’ in them, you can of course season it with a bit of salt, a tiny sprinkle of fine sugar).

Voila. Try it! 😊😊

Crying

My mother died two years ago.

It was unexpected and very sudden and it’s one of those things that happened in my life that I still cannot seem to move on from.

One day in January 2018 I called my mom from work because she had a doctor’s appointment and I wanted to know how it went. I was in a long-distance relationship then, and while on the phone call my mom said she’d talk to me at home because she was tired. I was a bit taken aback because we usually had short phone calls throughout the day and this was shorter than short.

I think if you read about people crying all the time you won’t really be concerned, but I hardly cried before 2018. I was very cheerful, very driven, very sharp, very confident, and I spent equal amounts of time with my mom and friends. I was social and I knew how to be a friend and a cool daughter.

I called my then boyfriend immediately after that phone call, and in between sobs I told him I was gonna lose my mom. I didn’t know when I’d lose her or how I knew, but I knew I was losing her. He was probably puzzled and didn’t understand my phone call, because she was not sick, the year was just starting, I was in hysterics and when I got home I just cried throughout dinner.

It was a really stressful time for me then. I am the youngest of three kids. I’m a lot more closer to my brother because, probably we’re practically the same age, and my sister is a bit of a dimwit lost in her own world. You always have to explain cause-and-effect to her, and during critical times I would wonder how the fuck we’re related.

I pulled my mom out of the first hospital that treated her, put her in a second one (one I go to for my mental health problems) and two days later the doctor wanted to talk to me. The prognosis was bad. 3-6 months. The doctor cried when he told me. We were standing outside the room they wheeled my mom in. It was a Friday evening.

I told the doctor I’d like to talk to my brother first and I’d rather tell him in person. He was coming after work.

I just sobbed on my brother’s shoulder for what seemed like hours after I told him. I just turned 30, I said over and over. Life is not fair.

I don’t want to tell you what happened the night my mom died but she died on the Tuesday after I’d been told her prognosis was 3-6 months. She wasn’t the only person who died that night. A huge part of me did, too. I arranged her funeral in the middle of the night and had to entertain funeral guests who kept crying and saying I looked and sounded just like her. I did not cry at all in front of people. I mostly grieved in private. Got back to work in about 6 calendar days. But life wasn’t the same anymore.

I did tell a few of my friends about her death, how she died, why she died, how we knew she was gonna die. Repeated the story so many times.

Whoever I knew after 2018 I don’t really tell this story to them except maybe S, because it’s none of their business, and I just don’t really like to talk about it to strangers who didn’t know her. Even when F asked me about it I just gave a nonchalant shrug and told him she died, end of story, and then went back to bed.

Before this COVID-19 blew up in our faces I told myself this was the year I would finally step outside and regain some semblance of the person I was before 2018. I should remember how it was to be social? Apparently I didn’t. I don’t like crowds. I have absolutely no patience to sit through dinner at very noisy places. I always want to be home. Then now the whole world is bursting at its seams and I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore.

The first Mother’s Day after she died was the toughest. I flew out to Sydney the week before that. Everywhere in Sydney there were signs about wonderful gifts to get mothers from well-designed cards to clothes to flowers to bags. I remember I walked back from Dymocks at George Street and just slept and slept and slept. Cried for a while and slept again. I liked Mother’s Day before that because it was a tradition for my mom to buy me a gift (I bullied her into it, not the other way around :p ) and we’d just spend the whole day together. I had never worked on her birthday before she died except one year when I was really busy. I still think about that day sometimes. I know it doesn’t make a difference but it would have been great if I knew how to chill.

This Mother’s Day (last week) my friend wrote me a message saying “Happy Mother’s Day to our mommas in heaven” and I just didn’t reply. I replied about other things. I wasn’t especially sad, no more than usual, and her own mom had died when we were in our teens. My friend was just a year away from university, and her mother had died in a terrible traffic accident.

I don’t know how to finish this post. I can’t even tell you things are gonna be OK when you lose a loved one. Because despite trying to be OK about it, and I tried a lot of things: talking about it, not talking about it, learning new things, taking a break, trying to be on top of my mental health, not taking my medicine. Nothing works. It is not a matter of “accepting” it. I am just still struggling a lot, and I could take all the medicine in the world to feel a little less pain, but I will just come right out and say it’s too much to take sometimes. So I really don’t know.

List of Random Things on My Mind

– I bought an oven. My old oven went kaput when I needed it most so I bought a new one at the supermarket near where I stay. I also wanted to get a vacuum cleaner but I couldn’t carry two heavy things. I was averse to the idea of having the supermarket deliver the items because I cannot delay gratification and needed the items then.

– I still don’t have a new vacuum cleaner.

– I used to read a lot. Preferred print to e-books but right now even though I seem to have more time, because I no longer commute, I just can’t sit down for more than an hour at a time reading.

– I realised I wanted a family. Not children; I just can’t afford them. I meant husband. I used to think marriage was an artificial arrangement. Now I am warming up to the idea. This COVID-19 really doesn’t only kill, it plants funny ideas in our heads. The one person I want to marry doesn’t want to get married, at all, it is not a me thing, it is a him thing, so I am not sure what’s going to happen. In this instance, what options do we have? Do we find someone else whose goals align with ours, or do we try to convince the person that marriage is gooood, then threaten them a bit with ‘If you don’t wanna marry me, I’m leaving you!!!’?

– I would like to bake something.

– I want to go to the museum.

– I miss my mom a lot, and have thought about suicide sometimes (how to marry if you have mental issues?). The hospital cancelled my appointments and moved them all to August. I understand the focus is on COVID-19 but diabetic bipolar people need their doctors, too.

– I should bake something like a cookie.

– I am still a bit sleepy so I shall sleep for a while.

– If you read my blog regularly, I want to know who you are. Send me a comment?

I am Sometimes Bimbotic

In real life a lot of people will say I am intelligent. I can argue with little anecdotes on why I disagree. Starting from when I was 15 years old, and a student. I must give you some back story about why I am sharing this tidbit, and it’s because I am building a website on how to tackle the PSLE questions. The national (approved, and non-alternative) media outlets’ published articles on home-based learning and how different pockets of society are coping (some good, some bad) further cemented my desire to get my website up and running.

Okay so 15-year-old me sitting for an English examination. In Singapore it is fairly normal for English exams to have components in situational (like a report) and continuous (something more creative and thematic) writing. I was OK in English but I sometimes rested on my laurels because my classmates struggled with the language so while I was not that good I was better than most. I think a key note was that most of my classmates were ordinary folks (like me) and sometimes grew up in households that didn’t use English. Fear mongering (If you fail English you cannot go anywhere ar! Also this is not the only factor) also contributed to their aversion to learning and mastering English.

I remember the question being about a competition held in a somewhat ‘wild’ (think exotic flora and fauna, so far removed from modern amenities and civilisation) and my task was to write a formal report about that competition (kind of like a newspaper article). No other details were given, so it left a lotttt to the imagination.

So I wrote about how an unconventional Miss Singapore Universe pageant was held in a secluded island and a bevy of beauties roughed it out in a series of competitions to emerge victor to eventually represent Singapore in the Miss Universe pageant. The premise is that we’re taking these hotties out of their comfort zones while expecting them to display grace, intelligence (because they needed to win some physical and some trivia type challenge) and empathy.

So I wrote all about it and when I was done with the paper I had some time to read through what I’d be submitting, and I sighed happily.

Until.

We all handed up our paper and started talking about it.

And everyone.. wrote about SURVIVOR. AND I WENT NOOOOOOOOOO. It didn’t cross my mind at all!!! First of all at that age I didn’t watch much TV except MTV’s Most Wanted to listen to and watch music videos, and I watched Monk (the OCD detective who was so brilliant at solving all crimes except the one that killed his wife) and while I was “acquainted” with the concept of reality TV I just didn’t watch most! (I still don’t, but I did enjoy The Simple Life)

So I ran to my English teacher and explained the pickle I was in and he told me to relax and he would read my paper before saying I was out of point.

He returned the paper to me and told me I had a great sense of humour and imagination, he left my paper to the bottom of the pile so he could read all the Survivor stories first and come to mine, and he told me he would just deduct a bit but I think I still scored the highest.

So that’s it. Point of the story is I sometimes just don’t see the obvious, and the results can be comical.

Places I’ve Been

Three weeks in the house minus the occasional errand and I am dreaming about a holiday. My dad wasn’t the only person who renewed his passport. I did, too about two months ago, and I haven’t traveled anywhere since May 2018. My mom died in 2018, and at that time I had an Australian boyfriend and I flew out to see him the first chance I had. Grief wasn’t really good for that relationship and I think we broke up the same month I flew to Australia. He lives in Sydney.

So Sydney. I’ve been twice. The first time I went I told people. The second time I went I think I only told my family. The thing about traveling or holidaying is I always know someone who lives wherever I am going. So they always want to meet. And I am not saying I don’t wanna meet them, because I am usually itinerary-less on my trips, but I am somewhat antisocial (sometimes) so I try not to tell people about my trips.

Sydney is like Singapore except everything closes at 5 or earlier. I live in Singapore. It is considered a small city if you compare it to Moscow or New York, but Sydney is something else. It’s like yeah it’s a city but at the same time it is rural. I did toy around the idea about moving there but I couldn’t handle the thought of everything closing at 5pm. Or possibly earlier because labour cost is expensive so why keep the shop open beyond 3pm? Plus it’s called Down Under for a reason and that is it’s so far away from the entire world. If you wanna get to Shanghai from Australia you’d have to fly for 13 hours. To Bangkok you need 10 hours. I get to Bangkok in 2.

I did nothing but eat and have sex in Sydney. That’s all I did. My ex-boyfriend worked in computing (another story for another day, because I always date software engineering men) so even when he took leave I’d just read a book while he worked for a while and then we’d go out to have lunch. Then walk. Then dinner. Then walk. Then back to the hotel. But when my mom died I had zero interest in sex so when I flew out to see him in May we fought more than we fucked. And even when we fucked it was horrendous because we were not in sync. He flew in the December before that to bring me to Sydney and we spent a quiet time in Singapore before that. And when my mom died I told him to fly to Singapore but he told me he couldn’t so he was gonna fly me out instead. This relationship made me realise I can’t do long distance and that I should stop dating computer dudes but I still did it (the latter).

I’ve never been to Europe. I’d like to take a solo trip but not anytime soon. When I travel people think I’m Chinese so I don’t want to be subject to racism while traveling. The Chinese of course don’t think I am Chinese.

Speaking of Chinese. I’ve been to China. I was in my very early twenties. My business school classmate and I didn’t want to travel to popular places such as Bangkok and Bali (I’ve never been to Bali) so we picked a Chinese city. We had to pick a city because neither of us could speak Mandarin so if you placed us in the middle of a very Chinese non-English speaking place we would probably die. I thought I couldn’t. Anyway this was before Wi-Fi and data roaming was cheap so we had to make do with a paper map (haha) and a phrase book. But we did OK, shopped like only a Singaporean could, and had tons of fun. We were broke by the second last night we were there and a Uyghur dude who had a noodle shop brought us to a 711 called Kedi to get us snacks. He even bought me cigarettes. Cigarettes cost at that time 1 singapore dollar and that’s really how broke we were. And we’re already eating at his shop for free. And he asked me to marry him. I should have said yes. Even though I had no idea what to reply him whenever he spoke to me. I understood damn well, but I just couldn’t reply except uh huh and no, no way.

Bangkok with my brother was fun. We shopped and ate like crazy. My sister-in-law always comes over to my house and tells me about cheap SQ (Singapore Airlines) tickets to Bangkok.

The only place I went to and didn’t shop was Sydney. That’s cause things were very expensive. I wanted to buy a jacket and I saw it was 300 dollars. But I did buy bras and panties. But I ate a lot in Sydney and that was expensive too. We easily spent about 400 dollars a day on food. In the states I got a jacket for 10 US dollars. So no way would I buy a 300 dollar jacket. My then boyfriend said it’s OK price but that’s cause he earned a lot of money. I believe he was a millionaire. But he drove a Honda. That’s how they remain millionaires. And when I was telling him how my Sydneysider friend was paying X amount a month he told me in less than a minute they borrowed X amount and had X number of years to pay. I think it’s a Chinese thing. They’re good with money and anything finance haha.

Yes my friends commented Singapore has so many Chinese you went to Australia to get one more. But the Chinese in Australia are unlike the Chinese in Singapore.

New York was and is always a good idea. F told me he doesn’t think so. I’ll tell you about F another time.

Indonesia is OK but mostly piss poor and being half Indo I know how to speak the main language so they usually speak Javanese amongst themselves to scam me. Dude. If my grandma hadn’t migrated to Singapore in the late 1930s you and me would practically be neighbours. I’d definitely speak Javanese! Still wanna scam me.

I’ve always wanted to go to Hokkaido. But I think it’s a place you should enjoy with a significant other. We shall see after this COVID situation is over. For someone who hasn’t been to Japan I know a lot about the place.

Where have you been?

Short Circuit

I have stayed home for very long. I only go out to run very necessary errands. Such as picking up my dad’s passport. That was a nightmare. So with the lockdown in place, oops, I mean the circuit breaker, most places are closed. Bookstores are closed. Anything non-food is closed. The only place I can go to spend money at or on is the supermarket. And that is a shitfest I’d rather not take part in. Other places opened are.. Shops that sell glasses (the prescription kind). I’m not too worried about breaking my glasses. All of us have myopia here. So it is essential. I get it.

So anyway. We went to collect the passport at the post office. While I am not that smart about money and men, I think I made the right decision opting for my dad to collect the passport at the post office near my house (but not near enough to walk to). So the immigration place is somewhere in the centre of Singapore. You can argue it’s almost the east side. I live in the west. So taxi would have cost 30 dollars each way. So that’s 60 dollars. The post office is 15 dollars for trips to and fro. So we saved 45 dollars. Not bad at all! And if you’re wondering why don’t we just take public transport and save 56 dollars, yeah we don’t do that. First of all, I don’t like people. Second of all. I’m kidding. There is no second of all.

Work is going OK. Except. I think basically I’m sort of done working.. with people… There are a lot of stupid people around. For example. They don’t understand how URLs work??? Then they mess up shared Excel/Google sheets with changes saved real-time and then because it’s wrong, it affects other people and to divert everyone’s attention away from the mistake they do things such as getting angry and throwing a tantrum. Then when they have finished throwing a tantrum and calmed the fuck down, they’d message an apology (…) and say ‘I am a (their star sign)’. What nonsense. I am a Sagittarius. Does that give me the right to be a dick? I think apologies do nothing for me. If you hadn’t lost your temper you wouldn’t have to apologise in the first place.

My brain is turning into serious mush. So I went on Instagram to browse. I usually go on it to look at Jessica Alba’s TikTok posts and other funny stuff. So Ron Howard posted a picture of his newest (oops. YOUNGEST) granddaughter and I sat there thinking how come I didn’t know Zooey Deschanel was pregnant? So I went to Zooey Deschanel’s Instagram and nope, no announcement of any baby. Then I started Googling Zooey Deschanel, clicked ‘News’, didn’t see any pregnancy news, then Googled Emily Deschanel, nope still no new baby, and it (finally) dawned on me that no, Ron Howard wasn’t Zooey Deschanel’s father. Zooey Deschanel’s father is Caleb Deschanel. Ron Howard is Bryce Dallas Howard’s dad. They don’t even have the same last name! I have no idea why I was so confused. I mean if it’s a post about Zooey Deschanel and I am thinking of Katy Perry okay I get it. If I have to think Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard okay I get that, too. But Zooey Deschanel does not look like Bryce. Also. The two people I can never tell apart are Isla Fisher and Amy Adams. I always get them wrong. Maybe I got confused because both actresses (Zooey and Bryce) have director fathers.

I am suddenly very sleepy and woozy. It is 4.34AM. I have watched the entire Blacklist season 7 up until the latest episode.

I might go to sleep after all.