Sugee Cookies

I was a bit bored in the early evening so I made a batch of sugee cookies. I didn’t put too much sugar because I am diabetic but the texture turned out great.

Ingredients:

250g Plain Flour
6g Baking Soda
140g Clarified Butter (#Ghee)
126g Sugar (But adjust to your preference)
6 tablespoons of Ground #Almond

Steps/Notes

You don’t need a hand-held mixer/mixer for this.

I mixed the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, sugar) first and slowly incorporated the ghee.

I then put the ground almond into the mix, and roll them into small balls (tried to make them as uniform as possible)

Pre-heat the oven at 170 degrees Celsius and then bake it for 22 minutes.

Please let your sugee cookies cool first before transferring onto a cooling rack. (I burnt my index finger)

I hope you enjoy making them because this is a simple recipe, and it doesn’t take an hour to produce cookies for you and your family to enjoy. ♥️

I’d have shown you the results but my finger is still in a bit of pain so maybe next time!

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?

Christmas Spirit

I don’t celebrate Christmas in a religious sense, although over the years I did go to parties and exchange gifts with friends.

My job before this could qualify as multi-national, with the bulk being Singaporeans, and the headquarters in the US did not celebrate religious holidays so days leading up to Christmas were never festive at the office. No decorations. No gingerbread cookies or cakes or panettone or Mariah Carey whistlesinging all she wanted for Christmas was me from the radio. It worked out fine. Nobody cried or bitched or moaned.

At my current workplace (my division at least), there was a Christmas game played on the eve of, and it was something like Secret Santa, but I can’t tell you the actual name in case someone Googled and landed on my blog. I do not wish to be dooced, no matter how much I bitch about my job (the bitching itself is a second job haha).

Each person had to bring a gift of minimum 10 dollar value, and we had to pick a number which let us know the order we could pick out a random gift. And the chosen gift would be unwrapped, and the next person could either steal the previous gift, or pick another unopened gift. Popular gifts would naturally be “stolen”, and each popular gift could only be stolen a maximum of three times.

I am lazy by nature and I didn’t want to think about whether a gift was perfect or useful, or waste a lot of time running to and fro a few stores, so I bought a 20 dollar voucher as a contribution to the game. Ten dollars sounded cheap, anything above 20 would be ass-kissing or telling how badly you wanted to be liked at the workplace, so 20 it was (it was the sweet spot!). The thing about me is while I don’t like any of my colleagues, I am not generally a stingy person, I will die one day and can’t instruct my living relatives to bury my money with me, but my morals also didn’t want anyone feeling like butt when they ended up with my gift.

Like I’ve mentioned more than once here, this job teaches me a lot about people, and I learn a lot about being an average (or ‘quintessentially’) Singaporean employee.

I have worked with a lot of Singaporeans. I have made some good friends from those jobs and I am extremely lucky to beat the odds (in any country!), but I find it hard to get along with most of my colleagues (in all workplaces but one). This is my experience, and I’m not saying this is the ONLY experience that matters or is true or correct, and if I could say so myself, I am still hopeful that I will eventually end up at a job I like and treasure and find rewarding. Working on it!

My experiences were also half my fault because I have this thing called a personality and I somehow appear as if I don’t give a shit about anything. Either that or that I am boring with boring hobbies. Or they think I am aloof and super action (Singaporean slang for show-off)!

Most Singaporeans I meet at a workplace are people I don’t wish to hang out with after 6pm. The following descriptions of people could be universal, I frankly don’t care:

There always is the depressed colleague who likes to bitch and moan without doing anything different to ameliorate their situations, so it gets tough to hold a conversation after a month because you just want them to shut their pie holes, then there’s the dumb person, who is actually not dumb, very careful not to be offensive or draw attention to themselves, he or she does okay not excellent but okay, but seems to know what it takes to rise up the ranks (they’re not brilliant at all, but their ability to get the promotion regularly maybe shows that hey they are brilliant after all!), then you have a bunch of gossips (these people lie on a spectrum; some just like to talk a lot about harmless things such as ‘Mandy is not good at housework but her husband still loves her despite this flaw’, then you have the types who go around telling other people what other people said and just standing back to watch the whole world burn (I don’t like this type or want to be associated with them so I usually pretend I don’t hear what they say) and then anything in between).

Most Singaporeans I work with don’t really read, and they always look lost when there is uncomfortable silence and I offer to talk about current affairs or pop culture and they’re the ones inviting me for lunch. Reading maybe isn’t crucial at work, I don’t know, you just read emails, right? What sort of intelligence do you need beyond that? You just do your work and go home.

Some Singaporeans aren’t able to string a proper sentence. Some don’t understand tone or basic courtesy and always need to be right even though their arguments aren’t cogent at all. Then somehow I am the douchebag because I ask ‘What was that again?’ when they put on that impatient tone and write aggressive-aggressive emails.

Most that I met or still meet weren’t or aren’t open-minded (I don’t mean about life stuff, I mean even at work). Things have always been done this way, so the only times policies or processes are questioned would be during the promotion exercise where everyone suddenly wants to prove that YES THEY CAN THINK. YES THEY CAN IMPROVE. YES THEY DESERVE THIS PROMOTION SO YES NOW THEY ARE QUESTIONING POLICIES WHATCHU GONNA DO ABOUT THAT HUH, CRYSTAL?

In the first place most of the policies were created because of an urgent need (duh, also, some people just wanted to give themselves work sometimes to appear educated and fanschy pantschy or cover their buttholes before they get fucked), and while at that point those policies or processes satisfied that particular need in some form, things evolved, these people and their bosses usually didn’t think about how logical, airtight, or useful the policies were, and due to lack of experience, had no foresight whatsoever, and never realised that oops, these policies couldn’t remain relevant or worse, that they had a lot of holes.

I got carried away.

My gift was apparently popular. It got stolen three times. There were other good gifts too, but other gifts were useless knick knacks such as towels or tea bags or a snow globe or bags. I was inclined to think these were stuff already lying around in their homes and what better way to get rid of these stuff than contribute them to a Christmas game?

I think if I’m still at this job next Christmas I will still purchase a similar gift but will opt out of participating to receive a gift. Not being a snob or pedantic or OMG CHRISTMAS GIFTS MUST BE LIKE THIS AND THAT (with hand gestures and all), but I really don’t like hoarding things I don’t want or need. I actually deposited the Christmas gifts I received from colleagues this year into the trash can at the mall after picking out the okay or cool ones (which I gave away). I kept two.

Nevertheless, Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! ❤

The Swimming Pool

Two weeks ago, five minutes before I switched off the computer on a Friday evening, my boss came up to me, hissed and yelled at me to quickly send the email out! while I sat there perplexed. Her instructions the day before were to make sure 1) I let her vet every single detail before I sent it, and 2) when I had already told her there were some iffy details that needed to be addressed, she had 3) asked me to clarify with the person. She had neither vetted the work nor approved it for circulation. I then emailed to clarify the details with our colleague, and my boss had gotten mad, and shot me an email to tell me I should just send the email already! Most of the time, similar types of miscommunication with her happen, and I chalk it up to her inability to communicate properly. She has pulled similar stunts with PowerPoint presentations; it was completely all right for her to present data in a certain manner, but God forbid if I asked if the data could be presented in a similar manner to hers (suddenly the manner is WRONG! Use your brain!). To be on the safe side, I had copied her original PowerPoint slides to my desktop and if she ever raised this, I would just show her what the original was. A lot of people in my personal life tell me not to argue, just show some respect, and follow her instructions properly. I could, but her instructions and rules are always random, and I have come to accept that if it’s not the font, it’s the colour, if it’s not the colour, it’s something else. At this point I don’t care about being efficient or right or how to improve as an employee. My boss is also not the person paying me my salary; I keep reminding myself she is merely my reporting officer who is also getting paid by the organisation. I do believe that I could learn about people and behaviour at this job (i.e. stupid behaviour to note, and avoid doing) and because jobs are scarce now, my options are limited.

During dinner and a movie that evening I realised I could not concentrate on anything. Although I have a sense of humour about a lot of things, I must say the yelling affected me a lot, no matter how much I tried to not let it.

It was also the evening I decided I needed to find an activity or an outlet for my frustrations. I have piano lessons on Sunday mornings and I enjoy them because they make me think and improve my memory. While I do it to my friends (I’m sorry!) I don’t like going on like a broken record about what happened at work or how I feel about work.

I chose swimming.

I haven’t gone swimming since I was a teenager, and to prepare myself for this activity I bought a few swimsuits.

I go swimming for thirty minutes most evenings after work. I like the feeling I get when I walk down the steps into the pool (I suspect it’s similar to happiness). I usually stand there for a bit, look up at the sky and sigh. When I do that, I always feel my anger melt. Then I do my laps. I feel tired usually after four or so laps, and I will catch a breather and keep going before my thirty minutes are up. At the end of it I usually no longer think about work1. Then I take a very cold shower for about 8 minutes, get dressed, gather my things, and walk the twenty minutes home.

A few days ago, I decided to go swimming in the morning. It is still the school vacation, so I saw a lot of children with their parents. I was amused. Despite obviously having no teaching experience, fathers were screaming at their sons to kick or stay in the lane and don’t splashhhh aroundddd! (Mother ducks who don’t go to expensive schools teach their ducklings better!), children bringing their Super Soakers (what are they called now? NERF SOAK GUN?), spraying everyone and not giving a rat’s ass about personal space (well, it is a public pool, Bonneka, lower your expectations, swim a little more, then lower your already lowered expectations), and mothers were sitting on the side (not swimming) ready to offer a snack to their pre-teen children.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy the session, stood at the side more than I swam, cut it a bit short, stood underneath the shower for a longer time, and got a hot dog to reward myself for being a good citizen (because I didn’t tsk at any kid, and I smiled graciously at grandmothers hand combing their grandsons’ hair).

I am not a snob. My mom used to take me swimming all the time because I had scoliosis (it wasn’t and isn’t severe) while she read on the bleachers. My mom was the most loving person to me, but even she didn’t mollycoddle me in public, so no snacks or juice boxes waited for me when I emerged from the pool and said “I’m done!” (J’ai fini!).

I still prefer going in the evenings when there are fewer people. I always feel relaxed, and it’s a good activity for self-care.

What are some of the things you do to relax?

1I had a German pen pal once who told me the story about exercising to force himself to get his mind off work. Over the years I have tried a lot of different activities and I do want to engage in strenuous activities to help me sleep better. Some that have worked well: trampoline classes (can choose combat, or ABT training while jumping on a trampoline, 1 minute in should get your blood pumping), hiking, and running on the mill.