Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Oodles Of Food Fun In Lil Red Dot

For those who are just stumbling onto my blog site – welcome and thank you for reading.

For my good blog friends and followers, you will know that Lil Red Dot (fond nickname of Singapore) is a foodie paradise. Singaporeans love to eat and complain. This is our Singaporean trait and uniquely defines us.

So much so that our quest to be UNESCO heritage site to make Lil Red a place for hawker trade was successful in 2020!

The flavors of our food are unique and we are a melting pot of cuisines from all over the world. As our Lil Red Dot has 4 major ethnic groups, we have terrific Malay cuisine that is chock full of spices, flavors that tinscillates any discerning palate.

Salty, spicy, coconutty creamy and interwoven with chillies and condiments, fish, meats and poultry or veggies are transformed into dishes that westerners find exciting.

Our Chinese cuisine has hues of Szechuan peppers, plain Teochew styled dishes, Hokkien noodles such as Hokkien Mee or Hakka’s thunder tea rice that is totally vegetarian.

The Eurasian culture or Portuguese curries such as Devil’s curry and a mix of western and eastern flavors makes it delectable too.

What is even more unique is that we have residents from Japan, S Korea, Turkey etc and with them, come their unique cultural blend of foods. Plenty of sushi, sashimi, udon, kebabs and the list goes on.

I find that over the years, the traditional dishes get reinvented by young aspiring chefs and especially with the Master Chef series and prominent chefs like Gordon Ramsey, Jaime Oliver and others, many have decided to throw their pens or laptops to be a chef.

Lawyers, dentists, doctors, office workers and housewives have now decided to be their own entrepreneurs and I am so surprised to see a local ice cream shop selling spicy ice cream made to taste like nasi lemak ( rice cooked in coconut milk served with sides of peanuts, anchovies, cucumbers, chilli paste and fried fish or chicken parts) or malay desserts like Chendol (shaved ice with fillings like palm seeds, red beans, jellies and palm sugar to taste in the coconut soupy base).

I have seen how food fusion has emerged and with it, comes new tastes.

Some flop. Others succeed but I wonder if it will be a food fad and wear off?

I can understand why visitors from Australia or USA or Europe love our food as we are a hodge podge of everything and Satay seems to be the overall favorite alongside chicken rice which even our Singapore Airlines serve in First Class or Business Class (before Covid-19)

Western food centers on BBQ, ribs and a main dish with salad, soups and breads, followed by dessert of ices, fruits or cakes. Ours is anything goes, without need for sequencing. Eyes see – stomach growls, cash paid, food is down the gullet.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, our tourism trade has grinded to a halt. Long time stalwarts of western food restauranters like Dan Ryan Chicago Grill and Tony Romas have folded. These are my 2 favorites for western dishes such as ribs or salads. I first stumbled upon Dan Ryan’s in Hong Kong’s Pacific Place.

So it is to be expected that new food entrepreneurs may open and shutter after a while as cost of service staff and rental really kills the grade if footfall disappears and no influx of tourists or pandemics such as Covid forces all to be housebound.

Such are the risks of business I guess. If you make it, you hit the jackpot till you are faced with new challenges.

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Saturday Dinner Surprise By Neighbor

Usually Neighbor’s kitchen is closed on weekends.

But I got a text from her that she will be sending me dinner for tonight.

1st Course Soup

Vegetarian soup made with carrots, mushrooms, white cabbage and lotus root.

Main Course

Korean Dish with Budok and bringjal

Sides

Cucumber pickles with garlic
Dried mushrooms

Dessert

Pineapple cake & apple cake from Taiwan

It was simply delicious!

It is very nice to be included for her daily meals…I appreciate her kindness!

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2021 In Lil Red Dot – Non Stop Rain

I am not complaining with the non stop rain in Lil Red dot as the rain water will freely water the plants everywhere in my tiny island state.

I am not in the mood to go out especially when there are 3 cases in the community (imported cases) with the new Covid-19 strain that is far virulent in terms of spread than the older version. Like as if the older version is not bad enough, it had to mutate to create a new one! Sigh!

Good news is that our contact tracing is robust and that these cases were caught and contained. The Task Force is now looking into how to contain it with the Marine sector. It is good that they are on their toes and our scientists work feverishing to identify the strain. I feel safe with our PM and his team in charge. Credit goes to Minister Lawrence Wong who leads the task force. Not easy for him, but he and his team of Ministers Gan Kim Yong and Chan Chun Sing did it. Thank you men!

So is 2021 coming in with a big bang to change things? I doubt it, as 2021 will be clouded by the ravages of 2020 and I do not expect overnight turn arounds of the economy or burgeoning new deals for the economy to grow leaps and bounds. I have budgeted 2.7% salary increment for staff around the world but I know in reality this may not happen. But I will try as factoring inflation, there must be something given 2020, all forwent any wage increment and we were lucky not to have wage cuts and or job losses.

I am happy to have a roof over my head, relatively healthy parents (for their age, this is as good as it gets), electricity, water as and when required and some pennies in the bank for use.

I was told by Mr Nice that a mutual friend we know is thriving in Cryptocurrency trading, otherwise known as Bitcoins. I only have chocolate coins and no Bitcoins, mind you LOL! MisterMuse also weighed in to remind me not to whallop all of it in one go! Stomach would have preferred all at one go!

I am chicken hearted in all things risky and am one of those that will scrimp and save pennies, thus never growing rich. I am not a gambler.

MR EX is the opposite as being the so called entrepreneur he touts to be, he will always want to be earning mega bucks and or coming with new ways to make money.

For 2021, the last 2 days did not show the sighting of MR EX and I guess he is celebrating with his Bimbo and Dogs as he has money to spend and come hounding my way when he wants more leads or thoughts on business. For a struggling man with debts ( his perennial story to me which must be discounted 100%) he can afford a personal trainer to attend to him too.

Such is life, we con or get conned. I cannot con as I do not even know where to begin. So, no Bonnie & Clyde type escapades from me. Just a simply lass, carrying a beat up inanimate furball Garfield in tow, reporting to the cold marble floor to watch soapies from Hong Kong in Cantonese.

I miss Hong Kong for its wintry foods and soups.

I miss Eugene, Oregon for its farm fresh produce or strawberry picking seasons. I remember picking free blackberries off the bushes along Willamette River.

I miss Perth, Western Australia for fishing off the piers and drinking vino as we travel from Perth down South, seeing sights as we go.

I miss Adelaide’s Kangaroo Island and the German town of Hahndorf for its German food and brew.

Delightful German Brockwurst Sausages Served With Dijon Mustard and Gravy

I truly hope that I can continue to enjoy the decent health and the coming 2 surgeries planned for this year will turn out ok, giving me full use of my hands again.

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Enjoying My Neighbor’s Cooking – One Month & Counting…..

Neighbor lives several floors down in my pigeon hole block. She usually parks her car next to mine in the basement carpark and often I would bid her good morning or good evening. That was all.

In the little snippets of interactions we have had over the years, it was “oh you just got home and how are you?” or “just got home?” from me and her replies would be usually, “just finished social work” or “going to class” or “yes, just finished doing marketing”

A month ago, when I bumped into her, she saw me with both hands in braces for my painful swollen hands and she asked how was I coping and I told her painful especially when doing chores or getting meals done.

Without thinking, she immediately said that she would share food with me. It would not be an issue for her and she is not looking to be paid for it. I was hesitant as something to receive and not reciprocate worried me. I tried telling her that I would be happy to pay her for her time, trouble and cost of the food.

She refused. Before I know it, I would get daily dinners sent up to me, piping hot and delicious too.

Neighbors roast beef salad served with light olive oil and chunks of cut fresh apples. I added tiny tangerine wedges with it and it gave me the tanginess I liked. I do not usually take beef as it is sometimes too “gamey” for me but the way she treated the roast, it came out perfectly tasty. The plate I used is one that I exchanged after getting supermarket bonus points!
Another dish Neighbor sent up to me was “fish chowder” – again, I do not usually take creams and salmon but to waste her efforts, I tried it and it was acceptable and the salmon was not too bad. I do not like eating salmon as fish meat to me is usually white in color and the pinkish colors does not entice me to buy it on my own as I do not know how to manage cooking salmon.
Neighbor cooked this for me on New Year 2021 Day Lunch ! I loved this dish as it came with piquant Nasi Lemak Rice (rice cooked in coconut milk) with slivers of roast belly pork, organic buckwheat tempeh (soy based food but she substituted it by using buckwheat) and stir fired “Kai Lan”. I loved this dish as it was really delicious. Maybe it was because I am a pork fan!
For New Year’s Day dinner, Neighbor cooked fish curry made with yoghurt and not the usual coconut milk for good heart health and served with below image of Basmati rice with a side of beans & cashews.
This was the steak dinner Neighbor cooked for me for Christmas Day complete with the right doneness for the steak.

Yes, I am blessed with Neighbor’s generosity and time to prepare each meal with thought, creativity and plating techniques. In return, I got her small presents and sharing of fruits, cookies and snacks.

It was the least I could do to thank her for preparing each meal for me on a daily basis with minimal kitchen closure days on weekends when she has to attend to her grandsons, ages 2 and 4 months old.

Her kindness reminded me on the old adage of giving is better than receiving and I do thank the heavenly realm for sending me this lovely gift.

I can only continue to keep her in my thoughts and wish her the best of health and constant happiness she derives in sharing food and her cooking with me. For a lady in her late 60s, she looks young and happy – I would like for her to continue to enjoy youthful thinking, good health and happiness always.

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Christmas Day

What’s on Christmas Day?

Nothing much is what I say.

Come 28 December 2020, Lil Red Dot enters Phase 3 of Covid-19 measures. We now can have groups of 8 max per household.

Ironically, I am pretty happy to stay holed up in my apartment as the roads are packed with cars and people as if Covid-19 is no longer a threat.

Someone suggested taking me out for a late Christmas Lunch. Knowing this person, he will likely forget his ask as the hours will pass and he stays engrossed in his work like a holed up mad scientist.

But he did show up and he took me to lunch at a Peranakan restaurant at his club.

This club is exclusively only for current officers and ex officers of the army. This man is a Captain and it explains his arrogance and take charge attitude. It suits his demeanour haha.

So, I assure you he is not a mad scientist, just a strange person or should I say, a very unique individual.

This is Xaviet’s wit & wisdom 🤣

Mr Nice is catching up with me Monday and it will be about 6 months since I last met him. I have let him grieve over the recent loss of his mother and he is now able to catch up.

I managed to catch up with my parents too and went about doing their errands.

I made a family favorite drink…Calamansi lime juice.

These limes are small little rounds and the juice pack a whallop in tangy sourish lime taste. I simply add ice and water and it becomes a fantastic thirst quencher with curries, fried foods or just a drink on a hot day.

This quantity cost me SGD1.30

I also went about buying chilli padi or Thai red chillis to wash, remove the tips and freeze. I will use it for cooking or eating on its own with noodles or soups.

Thai Chilli Padis pack a heat from its spicyness. This quantity cost me SGD1.20

It is nice to have family and for me, all I have left are my parents.

I dread the day when they are no longer around as all I have is me, myself and I with Garfield.

Merry Christmas all and know that you are in both Garfield and my hearts…technically only one heart that is live…mine but a cottony heart of Garfield as well 😆

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Happy Winter Solstice

Today, 21 December 2020, is what we call the Winter Solstice.

The date for Winter Solstice is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar and it is a day whereby Chinese households will cook and eat a bowl of “tang yuen” made of rice glutinous flour and filled with either of the following fillings; ground peanuts, black sesame sweet paste, red bean paste or nothing. Each of the “Tang Yuen” is cooked in either dried longan tea or ginger soup with sugar to taste.

Each Winter Solstice comes with good wishes and blessings. As the old and young gather to enjoy this sweet dessert, blessings for good health, achieving what you set out to achieve successfully, luck, peace, joy and happiness.

Happy winter solstice all and I hope you get to try this dessert. It is sold in supermarkets under frozen section and I hope you get to buy and try it in your country if they import it. I know some USA states would have it and even in Canada too. I believe United Kingdom may have it too.

If you choose not to cook it in soup, you can ladle out the cooked dumplings and roll it in grounded peanuts with some sugar for taste.

Blessings and all things good folks! Garfield hugs!

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Local Veggies

I recently see a lot of miniature veggies sold in our local supermarkets.

Sold at 3 packs for SGD2 at Hao Supermarket for Xiao Bai Chye and SGD1.95 for a packet of Nai Bai at NTUC Supermarkets, this is the “go to” choice of veggies for me now.

To give you an idea of quantity per packet, each plate equals a packet

I think it looks cute and so I started buying these mini veggies.

“Nai Bai” is the name of this Chinese Green

I love plating these veggies as it sits quite fashionably well on my Garfield plates. It goes well with rice and a roast pork dish or fried fish. I relish eating veggies and can easily finish a plate in one sitting for a meal.

Shorter than an index finger length, it cooks easily when you pour hot boiling water over them in a pot. Faster than blanching and no flame used. In seconds, pick them out with tongs or chopsticks and plate it, cooked and ready to eat.

This is miniature “Xiao Bai Chye” and I cook it the same way for Nai Bai and pour a home made sauce of vegetarian mushroom sauce made to look like “oyster sauce” with some sesame oil.

My latest food fad….

Meanwhile Bird cooked the veggies from her urban plants she cultivated.

From pot to her table.

Bird’s brinjal plant is getting bigger – still no brinjal yet
Bird is trying to grow chillis
Bird’s home cooked meal using the veggies she harvested

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Tranquil Fishing Spot – Roger’s Private Jetty (Throwback To 2013)

Jetty At KI

Imagine waking up and dashing off to your private jetty for a dangle on your fishing hand line to see what you land! I had this privilege at Roger’s holiday home in Kangaroo Island.

The property had a 9 hole golf course, its own private koalas (there was a pair in the Gum trees – common genre for Eucalyptus Trees), kangaroos (we call “roos”) and my favourite – its own private jetty with loads of breams or herrings, depending on the seasons you fish in.

I was told when the tide is up, it can rise above jetty levels. This did not happen when we were there as it was mostly at good water level when the tide was in. Inset photo is when the tide is out.

Sometimes it is not about the fishing but the tranquil environment that leaves me to think whilst I am actively supposedly fishing!

Roger’s parents, Marlene and Ken, played the perfect hosts as Marlene baked fresh breads every morning whilst Ken kept us occupied with different activities the property could offer.

It was a nice quiet holiday – as long as I had a jetty to go in the mornings and evenings, I was happy 🙂

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Majestic Nature – Magnificent Trees As I Reminisce On Freedom To Travel Back Then

I looked in awe at the majestic trees that grow in the Aussie bushland. The gum or eucalyptus trees smell fabulous too. I was told a lemony smelling tree was actually useful to ward off insects.

Australia has an abundance of land and on it, it has its local beauty of large trees that make it a unique landscape.

I Believe This Is A Gum Tree!

The flora and fauna of Australia is gorgeous. Besides seeing koalas in the wild or waking up to see kangaroos, I can also appreciate Kangaroo Paws – a wild flower or bush plant. Unfortunately, I lost the photos of Kangaroo Paw flowers I took as well as the Canola fields!

The trunks of trees and the way it grew are awesome. Huge and almost reminding me of some fairy tale movie where you would expect a witch to jump out.

You have to see it to believe the towering trees and how minute I was standing at the foot of the tree!

Pesky Gulls Stealing Food Where Fish & Chips Were Sold

Yes, the gulls of Australia is also symbolic of their seascape as what would it be without the gulls swooping in and fighting with me over my fish and chips ordered 😉

Yes, till Covid is controlled and swept off the face of this earth, I cannot travel!

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Cooking For Me Is An Achievement Of Sorts When It Looks Edible & Tasty!

I never thought I could get groceries this cheap at Cold Storage.

$1.20 each for the long stemmed greens call Chye Sim and for a packet of tomatoes.

What I liked about the tomatoes were that each tomato was a small one and not like those giant ones that I could not finish for making a sandwich.

Both veggies were from Malaysia and I was just delighted with my find.

Small things like these make me happy. Haha!

Fried rice vermicelli with canned braised pork trotters, cabbage and shitake mushrooms
Fried brown organic rice with egg, french beans, peas, carrots and minced pork. I add diced chili padi for that ‘kick’ for taste.

I feel so achieved…haha…that is dinner for next 2 weeks.

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