Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Fruits From Mr Nice Guy

These mangoes are large and I could share with Boy next door as he loves mangoes too.

13 Points loves mangoes but is away in UK visiting her family and joining her Michelin star chef boyfriend in Italy thereafter.

I managed to share one of the large mangoes with Dr Bones. He does not eat mangoes but his wife and sons do.

Neighbor who cooked for me does not like mangoes and so, I could not share with her.

I kept the small mango, size of a red apple, for self. It was very nice to share the mangoes especially when I received it fresh.

Mangoes from Australia are peach flavored whilst mangoes from Philippines has its own unique non fibrous texture.

My mum used to plant coconut mango, hawaiian peach mango and papaya mango trees in our old place of residence. She loves gardening and it is her favorite hobby to the fruits of her labor and she got the most joy seeing neighbors enjoy the fruits she share when fruits ripen. I learnt to share the harvests like my mum except mine are gifts from friends.

These unique species for each different type of mango tree saplings were carefully grafted by a man in his late sixties. This old uncle as we call him, has a sprawling business garden plot that sells flowers, potted plants, landscaping furniture and fruit trees. My mum chanced upon him and bought up his ‘experimental’ mango tree saplings.

Coconut mangoes were shaped like coconuts and weighed on average a kilo each fruit. I loved the papaya mangoes as it was almost 6 to 8 inches in length and its seed was so slim and thin, giving us mango lovers a lot of mango flesh to enjoy.

These gifts are Indian mangoes and Indian mangoes to me, are best.

Dr Bones received this from me
I kept this set for myself
Boy received this from me
Green Muscat grapes from China and purple black grapes from S Korea
Cherries, blueberries from S Africa, raspberries from USA, Sun plums and Japanese apples

Mr Nice Guy was right, other than blueberries and raspberries, I would not dream of buying Korean grapes or muscat grapes. I only eat Thomson seedless grapes!

This is also my first time seeing Japanese apples…its peel is so rough that it does not appeal to me. But I will try it. πŸ˜†

Silly me! Mr Nice Guy wanted me to try different fruits. Anyway, I froze the grapes. I usually use frozen grapes to ice the water I would drink and eat the melted grapes after.

Frozen grapes are like little popsicles and fun to suck till it melts and chew on the grapes after. It also prevents food wastage for me.

Thank you Mr Nice Guy. I appreciate the time and trouble you took to get me these useful fruits.

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Flowers Taken In India

These pics were shared with me by the photographer, Samy, my physiotherapist. He told me that he photographed these flowers that were happily blooming in the gardens of the sidewalks! So pretty!!

I love the daisies one most as Samy used it for his screen saver and it was very pretty!

Samy is from India and is working in Singapore under a work permit.

He is hoping to be able to bring his mum over to live with him in Singapore as his father passed away recently and his sister has a job offer to work in Czechoslovakia and his other brother is working in Qatar.

Samy will soon be match maked to a bride and he will marry her as he has been unable to find true love. He is nos in his forties.

I hope he is able to have his mum over and his future bride too.

All the best Samy!πŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

Photos are courtesy of Samy

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How Ukraine War Has Affected My Lil Red Dot, Singapore

The consumer price index is at 5.5% for last month. I am not surprised as my own basket of goods have shrunk but the cost is higher.

Besides my favorite croissant rising from SGD1.10 to SGD1.30 from a shop in the heartlands to a round of sourdough costing SGD23!! I used to pay SGD6.80 for a long loaf but a round one is SGD23!

Blame it on wheat that is stuck in Ukraine, cries the baker!

Then we have the issue of fries….no stock because of Covid and shipments were curtailed. We are still waiting for this for McDonald’s fries to resume sales.

Next is fresh chicken that we import from Malaysia. Malaysia has blocked this citing insufficient for own consumption. New issue for our government to source from Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Our signature chicken rice will cost more and the hawker stall may just pack up.

Gasoline, cooking oils and other consumables have sky rocketed too.

A protracted war in Ukraine is having rippling effects all over the world. Even hazelnut spreads such a Nutella or other brands are running short all over the world.

Here’s hoping for sense and sensibility to prevail between the 2 warring countries. Enough lives have been lost, innocent children, women and the elderly who played no part in this war but to die from it.

Sigh!

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Neighbor’s Cooking Week 1 April 22 To 7 April 22

1st April 22 only lunch was served up. I enjoyed the old yellow cucumber soup with pork bones. What is unique about old yellow cucumber soup is that the whole cucumber is cooked with wrinkly brown skin intact. Rice was accompanied by lightly sauteed okra with stingray fish stir fried with salted mustard greens and ginger. If you have noticed by now, soups (clear broths) are pivotal in our asian meals. It allows for lessening of heatiness from the heat or daily living challenges of work life and humdrum of getting things done. You may also find it alarming that sting ray is eaten here. Sting Rays make great Assam curries (Assam is Tamarind and its tangy flavors with accompanying veggies make it a delicious meal with rice) The other method of cooking is, was how Neighbor did it – simply stir fry with all the chew vertebrates with salted mustard veggies and strips of fresh ginger.

2 April Lunch was cous cous with pumpkin and capsicum in vinegarette – I loved it as it was a great appetiser indeed. Scallop soup with baguette was delicious.

2 April dinner was rice vermicelli with pork and veggies soup. I like eating noodles or rice vermicelli more than rice really but for me, my motto has always been to eat to live than to live to eat.

4 April 22 lunch and dinner comprised “Bak Kut Teh” or Pork ribs tea set with rice. It was spicy and it went very well with thick, rich dark soya sauce with chilli for the spicy kick.

4 April 22 lunch and dinner was fried rice vermicelli, garnished with chinese parsley. Stir fried with pork and bits of fried egg, it was simple but satisfying.

7 April 22 lunch and dinner was corn on the cob soup with carrots and cabbage. Rice was served with stir fried Kai Lan veggies and sliced fish.

Neighbor’s cooking schedule has shifted such that Wednesdays, she will not be cooking as grandsons will commence swimming classes at her daughter’s place. Also no lunch on Fridays as elder grandson is having swimming classes.

I am grateful for the meals as these are delivered to door step and helps me in minimising cooking and even getting groceries for all my meals. For now on days when Neighbor’s kitchen is closed, I do a simple soup or sandwich.

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Feijoa Fruit & Fresh Dates From Auckland, New Zealand

Sister texted me the photos below in this blog post. Apparently she was busy harvesting Feijoa and fresh dates from the fruit trees. She had also called on her friend from Cambodia to accompany her as the 3 fruit trees were just simply laden with fruits.

Feijoa sellowiana Berg is from the genus which the German botanist, Ernst Berger, named after JoΓ£o da Silva FeijΓ³, a Portuguese naturalist, and the specific name honors Friedrich Sellow, a German who first collected specimens of feijoa in southern Brazil. It has been nicknamed “pineapple guava”, “Brazilian guava”, “fig guava” or “guavasteen” among different countries.” [Quote from Wikipedia]

How it arrived in New Zealand, I don’t know. My last trip to New Zealand before Covid-19 pandemic, I did not get to taste this fruit as it was not in season in May/June. It fruits in March/April months of the year. Shaped like an egg, this fruit according to my sister, is refreshing and delicious. She simply halves it and scoops out its contents with a spoon. Below is a photo my sis sent me with the green Feijoa sliced in half. The red cut open fruit is fig.

Fresh figs in above photo is so heartwarming to see in abundance as I was just saying to my sis that fresh dates from South Africa was sold at SGD6.45 for about 5 to 6 figs. So expensive and over there in her garden, it was plentiful and wasted as she could never get to finish the harvest and makes jam or pickles out of it.

Given that Neighbor who cooks for me use figs a lot in her soups, I shared and showed photos of how Neighbor used figs to guide my sister on how to replicate the soups. Figs are naturally sweet and putting a couple of them in a pot of pork bones with corn on the cob, carrots and radish made it a deliciously soup.

Considering the high price of fresh figs here, I wish I could have some to pass to Neighbor for her cooking use. A pity really as my sister’s friend, the Cambodian Lady, can only take that many buckets only.

I also envied the amount of fresh apricots harvested. I told my sister not to waste the fruits and some not too nice looking ones could be salvaged especially if making jams or canning it. It makes no difference as it will be cut up and the rotten parts can be cut away to salvage the rest of the fruit.

Countries like New Zealand or Australia is great for fruit growing and I miss visiting the strawberry farms and eating buckets of strawberries. I envy countries with 4 seasons. Nice to see and have snow, though I would not be able to plough through or spade out snow like those I have seen in USA.

I miss USA. I miss especially the Pacific North West of America. The glorious pines, Douglas Fir, blackberry patches that grew wildly along the Willamette River and Granny Smith apple tree on campus where I would pop by and pick the apples that fell to the ground. For a Singaporean like me, I was always fascinated with apple trees and the abundance of apples on the trees that other Americans ignore and walk by.

On my road trails in Australia (be it Perth, WA or Adelaide), I see makeshift sheds with bags of apples going for AUD99 cents and no one around to stop you if you just took a bag without paying. The ethics and morals of a human being is trusted unconditionally and I was always happy to grab 2 sacks of Granny Smith Apples at AUD99 cents a bag. I leave AUD2 in the jar and walk off so happy as the value paid for more than 20 apples is really a good bargain!

I am still not brave enough to travel as I want the dust to settle for Covid-19 first. I am not one to throw caution to the wind and it is fine for me to wait too.

Meanwhile, I just have to pay a bomb for my fruits. I spend about SGD25 to SGD30 .on average for fruits in Lil Red Dot and these are on specials, else they cost more.

For eg, 6 medium sized packham pears from Australia cost me SGD5.95. This costs about SGD1 per pear.

This week I had a good buy of 300g punnet of grapes which had a 1 for 1 free offer at SGD5.45 per punnet, but I got 1 free punnet. This means that each punnet cost me only SGD2.70++ – It is a steal!!

Organic Kiwis from Italy (small sized kiwis) cost me $4.95 per punnet for about 6 pcs, which means each cost SGD0.83 cents.

Singapore imports its fruits from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Italy, India, Turkey (dates as Ramadan – Muslim Fasting Month is around the corner) and China.

Singapore imports its eggs from Poland, Malaysia, Indonesia and USA too.

We may be a tiny island state, but I am pleased to say that one can buy anything they want here so long as you have dollars!! πŸ˜‰ Hahaha!

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Poor Australia!

I hope Aussies are safe as they have experienced it all. Now WA has floods.

I hope everything normalises soon and that I can hop on a plane enjoy my winter fishing off a pier again soon.

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My Home Cooked Dessert

I am not a good cook. There are a few dishes that I can whip up and today’s share is my “infamous” black glutinous rice and red bean dessert.

These are actually 2 different hot desserts that are lapped up by hungry diners at food courts or hawkers centres. Namely; Red Bean Soup and Black Glutinuous Rice.

Each on its own is sold at $1.80 to $2.20 a bowl at Kopi Tiam food courts.

I learnt how to meld the 2 desserts into one from a Singaporean lady who migrated to Perth, Western Australia and opened a Chinese grocery store there.

In our visit to Perth, years ago, before Covid-19, my parents, brother and I were looking for Chinese spices to cook the fishes we caught. We stumbled upon this shop.

Being Singaporeans at heart we got to yakking and she extended her hospitality for us to have a meal at her home. We were served this melded dessert of both red beans and black glutinuous rice. It was delicious!!

She explained to me how to prepare this. The ratio is 50% of each. Wash and pour hot water over it and cook in a slow cooker, we call crock pot.

It is an earthen pot and thermostat controlled to high heat or auto settings.

I was told to let it slowly cook and not to add sugar until the dish is ready to be served. Sugar if added early coats the grains, preventing it from being cooked to the right silky texture.

By experimenting, I realised that putting in “gula melaka” alone to sweeten this dessert, it makes it bitter. So I tweaked it with 1 satchet of brown sugar crystals, 1 satchet of white sugar and some cubes of rock sugar and 1 small lump of gula melaka.

The end result was perfect!

I opened a tetra pack of coconut milk and added to it, some salt to taste..I chilled the coconut milk and used it to stir into my melded desssert.

I like cococnut milk and so I put 2 tablespoons into my bowl of dessert.

Scrumptious to the last drop and I still had stomach space for it despite wolfing down Neighbor’s dinner tonight.

Delivered in a container
I plated if for dinner. 2 pcs fried fish, leafy veggies with shitake and shoji mushrooms.

One word….scrumptious!!

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Neighbor’s Cooking Week 9 February 22 To 14 February 22 & Sister’s Home Grown Produce In Auckland

9 February Lunch was fried rice with dried prawns and spinach soup. Neighbor’s helper had forgotten I cannot eat shellfish. In order not to waste it, I shared it with Ms 13 Points who was happy to eat it as she often orders food delivery.

My sister from Auckland, New Zealand showed me her harvest of brocollini, kale and beet root from her garden. Ig is nice to grow your own veggies and it is great when she has land to do so as she has a garden.

Electrician popped by with a bowl of Bak Choh Mee (” minced pork noodles with fish balls and fish cake”) when he popped by to install a ceiling fan and switch out of my lights to LED ones. I finally have a ceiling fan! Yaay! For the longest time, I wanted a ceiling fan in my living room, instead of using the airconditioner. Now I have one.

10 February lunch was fried rice vermicelli with a side of soya sauce with cut red bird’s eye chillis…in the totem pole of chillis, these are lethal hot spicy chillis. Nian Gao or sticky cake was pan fried with flour and egg for dessert.

10 February Dinner was stewed chicken with korean noodles sprinkled with lots of diced garlic.

11 February lunch was braised belly pork with mui choy and rice. Corn on cob soup with potatoes, carrots and tomatoes.

12 February Lunch was big head sprouts in Japanese sauce and lotus root soup with pork ribs.

12 February dinner was pasta with bacon and minced pork.

As Neighbor is not cooking Sunday, she prepared for me fried rice that I could microwave and eat tomorrow.

She also made 2 slices of french toast for my breakfast tomorrow too.

14 February lunch was fish head rice vermicelli soup.

14 February dinner was mock sharksfin soup with mince pork made from melon and garnished with parsely. The fake sharksfin was shredded melon and eaten with black vinegar was absolutely delicious. Friend rice was also imcluded. Sprouts fried with salted mustard green and chives.

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Neighbor’s Cooking 4 February 22 To 5 February 22 & Surprise Treats From Ms 13 Points & Electrician

4 February 22 was another pleasant surprise as the Year of The Tiger continues its bountiful adventure with me.

Ms 13 Points texted me to say she and her Michelin Star Chef Partner left me treats at my gate. They had both gone to Ritz Carlton Millenia’s Summer Pavillion for dim sum lunch on 4 February 22 and decided to share these treats with me. According to Ms 13 Points, Summer Pavilion received a Michelin star too for its fine chinese cuisine.

This is traditional nian gao or sticky cake.
Sesame peanut ball…a dessert treat or snacks you can just pop into your mouth
Traditional carrot cake that is steamed before eating. Usually sliced thinly and eaten with soya sauce or chilli sauce or ketchup. I prefer this pan fried and it is tastier when crispy edges form.

Above are the treats from Ms 13 Points.

On this same 4 February, Electrician bought me a local treat ” Bak Chor Mee” literally translates to Minced Pork Noodle. Electrician came over to change my pigeon hole’s light fittings to LED ones.

Thin noodles is used and stirred in with black vinegar and chilli paste. Mince pork garnishes the dish alongside with slivers of fish cake and fish balls.

Neighbor continued to serve up lunch and dinner for 4 February 22. Her kitchen will be closed on 6 February 22, Sunday as she is visiting her daughter then.

Fish head bi hoon or rice vermicelli with fish cake, doufu cubes, carrots, cauliflower and snow peas.
Fried salmon with side of leek stir fried with chinese waxed sausages.

5 February 2022 lunch was Neighbor’s prize cook…pasta with beef base and mozzarella cheese. I love her pasta dishes.

5 February 2022 dinner is a traditional Teochew treat – Kong Bak Bao.

Mantou buns are used and the fillings are braised belly pork in soya sauce with a special dried vegetable.

A side of veggies with doufu in soup was also served up. For dessert, 2 pieces of Taiwanese Pineapple Tarts in slabs.

Delicious indeed!

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Neighbor’s Cooking Week 1 February 22 To 3 February 22 & Surprise Visits From 2 Long Lost Friends

1st day of Chinese Lunar New Year and Neighbor started the day with traditional New Year treats for breakfast.

Cheng Tng is a sweet dessert made from dried longans and red dates with gingko nuts.

Nian Gao or sticky rice cake that is normally offered to Kitchen God on Chinese New Year eve so that he does not speak as his lips are sealed with sticky Nian Gao made of molasses. It is fried with egg.

Cheng Tng dessert
Sticky Nian Gao fried with egg
Pork boiled with pork skin, carrots, jand made fish balls, chinese cabbage and endives
Pan fried fish and Ngoh Hiang (bean curd skin roll with mince pork, chopped water chestnut that is deep fried)

2 February Lunch & Dinner

Jelly fish, cucumber and chilli salad
Pork boiled with carrots and chinese cabbage
Glass noodles stir fried with black fungi, snow peas, young corn, bean curd skin and shitake mushrooms with black beard (a type of seaweed that resembles hair when dried but slithery smooth when steeped in water.
My fave Ngoh Hiang
Steamed rice

3rd February was a day of surprises as 2 long lost friends popped up at my home bringing goodies for me.

Neighbor cooked both lunch and dinner and I have kept these for tomorrow.

Rice vermicelli to eat with fish head soup below.
Fish head soup with snow peas, tomatoes and fish cake
Neighbor’s eldest sister made her some cookies and she shared a jar with me

Ms Biz Woman is an accomplished entrepreneur. I first met her through Duchess of Yore and we hardly spoke after that as I knew she was rungs up the totem pole of wealth. I was a mere minion in working life.

Updates she shared was she owns a factory in Shanghai that costs millions in SGD and 4 large properties in Lil Red Dot.

She is basically not working but sitting as honorary adviser of this or that business bodies. She has done well.

She brought me lunch plus 2 mandarin oranges to symbolise good luck🍊🍊

Sweet and sour pork with an egg omelette and a vegetable side below.
Stir fried bean sprouts minus the head.

Another long lost friend, Ms Woofie, who is now a business woman doing pet dog whispering and training of dogs has also done very well for herself.

When I first knew her, she claimed she was gay and was with another lady. I felt she was not sure but wished her happiness as she was in a bad place with her career then.

Fast forward now she is married to her husband and is a mother of 3 girls; 9 yrs old, 3 yrs old and 2 yrs old. I am happy she sorted out her sexual orientation and found true love plus started a business of her own.

She brought me Chinese New Year Cookies.

Left to right: cashew nut cookies and pineapple tarts with 2 mandarins for luck.

Ms Woofie told me her brother in law was diagnosed with covid although ART tests showed negative. Although he was masked when she met him masked as well, she erred on side of caution by standing more than 1 metre from my entrance to pass me cookies.

After 10 minutes of chatting from a distance, she left with her 2 girls.

I respect her for being responsible as she knew that I was recovering from cancer surgery.

Today was a day of pleasant surprises. I am grateful for their visits and gifts.

I am always especially grateful to Neighbor for her daily meals.

It makes me feel loved. πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸΎπŸΎ

🍊🍊🧧🧧🍊🍊🧧🧧3rd day of CNY!! Gong xi fa cai!

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