Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Happy Diwali Or Happy Deepavali

Today is a significant celebration for Indians who are Hindus – Festival of Lights or we call Diwali.

To recap, Singapore or I fondly call Lil Red Dot, has 4 major ethnic groups; Chinese, Malays, Indians and others. We have a public holiday for each of the ethnic groups.

Little India, located in Serangoon Road is where the enclave of Indians, including migrant workers will gather for their weekends to eat Indian food, buy Indian spices and visit the superbly big Mustafa Shopping Mall where prices suit the migrant workers.

Alot of tourists visit Mustafa too as well as Little India.

I have not been to Little India as it is a tad too crowded for me and so I avoid it.

But I did drive past is some weeks back and it was gaily lit with lights and the entrance to the road had a towering peacock on one side and the elephant on the other side of the road. Both were decked out in lights that ran through the entire Serangoon Road.

What I love most about Indian food are their Naans (flat breads) or pratas – the curries are just great. Their delectable snacks like murukus (look like pretzels but entire different in taste) are to die for literally and also kill you as it is filled with fats!

Meanwhile Orchard Road is already gearing up for Christmas – this year the merchants on Orchard Road (this is where the major shopping belt is for tourists and locals) used the theme of Disneyland!

Orchard Road needs a makeover as alot of the malls on the road are shuttered as rentals are up and poor merchandise mix. Also the decentralization of malls in heartlands where people live are generally more fun that trotting all the way down to Orchard Road and pay a bomb for Electronic Road Pricing, car park, food and everything else.

I like the way Changi Airport has made the airport such a hub of activity and the foot traffic is huge. Shopping is easy and parking is affordable coupled with free items such as 3 storey slides of children, wide berths walk ways for people with mobile devices (* of course meant for wheelchairs etc but idiots with their e Scooters and what not devices throng the areas too, making it quite dangerous to co-exist with those on medical devices).

Toilets are plentiful and squeaky clean.

Food has such a wide choice – for the man on  the street pricing to the well heeled restaurant pricings.

Yes, in our lil red dot, we have something for everyone and here is wishing all my Indian friends a Happy Diwali and happy visiting your friends and relatives! Save the Murukus for me please haha!

 

 

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UNESCO Bid For Our Hawker Center Food Concept

My lil red dot is trying to make a bid for making our humble hawker food fare as a UNESCO Heritage item.

During the National Day Rally and celebrations, it was shared that Singaporeans were drawn together by food. Regardless of London, New York, Australia or wherever we were living overseas, we will always get together to eat our laksa, fried kway teow or hokkien mee.

So much so, that the National Day Rally break out time at the Institute of Technical Education Central Campus, our organisers ensured that the hawkers were called in to cater for food for the participants.

I remember the creator of Chatter Box (Mandarin Hotel)’s Chicken Rice Chef and he was there, serving up his chicken rice. He is now in his 70s and his son, in his 50s, has taken over the business after his father left the employment of Mandarin Hotel to set up his own stall.

Our hawker food is symbolic of Singapore and represents us to the world. Tourists come here to chow down on our delicate cuisine that is uniquely us.

We have variants of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian food and now with fusion food, Korean, Japanese, Italian or whatever country’s food can be found in this tiny red dot.

It would be amazing if we made it really and clinch the title of UNESCO Heritage Hawker Food Fare.

Well, we are lil dotters and we never say die by trying!

I wish us all good luck!

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CM’s Food Porn #39 – German Food

Classmate (CM) shared that he had lunch at a German restaurant today.

He was ravenously hungry and ate as usual, alot!

First course was soup. He had 2 bowls:- French onion and wild mushroom with pretzels.

To me, it was a meal in itself but for CM, it was a starter!

The infamous German Pork knuckle was his choice with a side of German breads.

He is really a foodie!

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My Simple Meal – Pasta In A Pot

Brown Rice Spaghetti – about 40 sticks

1 bunch watercress

1 jar Leggo mushroom, garlic, herb bolognese sauce (400g)

1 pork brockwurst sausage chopped into small bits

Roasted pork knuckle 100gm chopped into small bits

1 can mushrooms chopped into small bits

100gm sunflower seeds

5 shallots or small red onions

3 long chillis chopped

Method

Sauteed chopped onions till brown and add chopped chilli. Add sunflower seeds.

Throw in chopped sausage and chopped pork knuckle. Add mushrooms.

Stir fry till fragrant and add watercress.

Put in the boiled cooked pasta.

Stir fry till well mixed and then add in pasta sauce.

Voila…pasta in a pot is ready.

Idiot proofed!👍🤣 Palatable to those who are not fussy eaters😆

Besides, this lasts me a week haha!

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CM’s Food Porn #30

CM (*Classmate) has been eating interestingly simpler meals of late. But his portions have not decreased. CM is a diabetic but he eats like there is no tomorrow haha!

1. Breakfast comprising braised soya sauce duck with steamed fish cake, stir fried bittergourd with egg and a bowl of rice porridge

2. Lunch was Japanese shashimi 1 for 1 free and he had tuna, oysters and roast duck leg with noodles. Dessert was watermelon as our weather has been at 35C everyday this week.

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3. Dinner was a fish he bought at the market for $6 and he had it steamed with doufu.

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When Limbs Hurt, I Walk Harder!

I am odd.

When in rigor mortis type of limb pain, I force self to walk so that endorphins get released and I feel better.

Endorphins are natural pain killers. Plus the fresh air and things to see excite me.

I walked 4km through the Healing Garden (UNESCO Heritage site) and part through urban landscapes.

The path leading to the garden was peppered with lots of small flowering plants. Unfortunately I do not know their botanical names.

As luck would have it, I literally saw a cockerel trying to cross the road.

He is an urban legend, living in the city on its own with a peahen that I could not get a photo!

He and his mate live in the Healing Garden and they both came out for a walk.

As I entered the Healing Garden, this is what I saw.

I saw soursop fruits in its infancy stages as these can grow up to 1.5kg in weight and were “supported” by a wire cage to prevent squirrels from eating it too.

Squirrels were everywhere, feasting on custard apples on trees.

I also saw a salamander or monitor lizard well camouflaged amongst the ground.

I least expected an urban scarecrow but there he was in all its splendour!

As I made my way home through the urban landscape, I saw this unique tree that draped downwards.

I walked past a field and saw 2 patches of moist ground filled with toadstools!

What a pretty sight for my eyes. It poured last night and the toadstools must have sprouted overnight.

I went home happy and less painful although the walk started with pain radiating to thighs.

4km…blahh..just burned 252 calories..not quite an impact haha!

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Home Cooked Style Dishes

Families who are brought up the old fashioned way and with elderly parents managing kitchens would often get these popular local dishes for dinner.

1. Sliced Bittergourd With Egg

Bittergourd is deemed to be of medicinal qualities. It prevents diabetes or helps those with diabetes to keep sugar levels low.

The gourd is touted to have “cooling properties” too and when consumed as a soup, dispels heatiness in the body.

It is said that if one boils this gourd in water that has high concentration, it can also lower blood pressure.

Mothers would love frying this dish to accompany with rice and the other dishes below.

2. Stewed Pork Trotters In Dark Soya Sauce

The plate that this trotter is served on has an antquated design. I remember using such plates during my grandma’s time and have kept some of my mum’s plates that she got from her mum. However it is not microwave safe.

3. Chopped Garlic and Onions Fried With De-Shelled Prawns

Prawns without shells are easier to eat and this is a simple way of cooking it.

Lots of garlic and onions are used and these 2 bulbs are great for health too.

4. Doufu With Minced Pork and Chinese Greens

These dishes are adequate for a family of 4 to eat with rice.

This is typically how an average family in Singapore would eat for dinner.

Pork Trotters are not daily affairs but occasionally as it is fatty meat.

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Outing With Mum & Dad

I took mum and dad out for a short walk at the Botanical Gardens. I know that with mum’s weak legs, this is required to help her by mobilizing her muscles to work.

So, I needed a short walk with available seats on standby for when my 2 parents get tired and needed to sit down.

We had a good browse through the gift shop with mum whilst I parked dad at the free to read book corner whereby a nationwide “donate a book corner” was.

1.Lovely tea sets with orchid motifs in gift shop

2. Decorative items with our national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim.

3. Bottle magnets using Vanda Miss Joaquim

It was an idyllic spot for dad as it was next to a carp pond and dad used to keep aquariums of fishes.

4. Orange carp and koi fishes

5. More Orange fishes on the other side of the pond

These fishes at the botanical gardens are smart. As soon as they hear human footsteps coming, they will all swim towards us. I believe this is due to conditioning by their caretakers who feed them daily.

I also see visitors feeding the fishes in the pond and the fishes are really healthy and happy to eat up the pellets or bread.

I was intrigued with this Asparagus Fern from Japan & Taiwan origination when I saw it. It does look curly whirly like a seaweed. But it was labelled as an Asparagus Fern Asidistra Elatiro, Cast Iron Plant, Asparagaceae, Japan & Taiwan.

6. Asparagus Fern

We saw Sparky jumping from tree to tree and hugging the steel beams. I used my Samsung phone to capture photos of him leaping so nimbly and happily.

7. Sparky having a field day!

Mum and dad were happy to be out and seeing these.

Unfortunately the weather was too scorching hot for them to venture into the sunny areas and so mum and I browsed in the gift shop.

Mum saw a walking stick that was nicely decorated with our national flower, the Vanda Ms Joaquim. She loved the colors and how it can fold like a cane used by the visibly impaired these days to be stowed away in a bag. Still, it did not entice her to want to buy it and use.

The Vanda Miss Joaquim was picked from among 40 flowers, out of which 30 were orchids, as Singapore’s national flower. Among the several varieties of Vanda Miss Joaquim, the variety “Agnes” was chosen particularly for its vibrant colours, hardiness and resilience – qualities which reflect the Singapore spirit.

This orchid is a hybrid between Vanda hookeriana and Vanda teres, and the first director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens Mr H.N. Ridley in 1893 named the orchid after Agnes Joaquim (or Ashkhen Hovakimian in Armenian). However, there is a controversy whether the flower was actually bred or discovered by Agnes Joaquim. One account suggests that the plant was a natural hybrid and was merely discovered by Agnes Joaquim who spotted it in her garden in 1893. Another account claims that as an experienced horticulturalist, Agnes Joaquim created the hybrid rather than discovered it.” [Source: The S.U.R.E. campaign is an initiative by the National Library Board to promote the importance of information searching and discernment. The nation-wide campaign was launched in 2013, and Singapore is the first country outside of the United States to promote Information Literacy (IL) on a national scale for the general public.]

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UK Master Chef Blunder On Chicken Rendang

Treats or snacks made locally from the old days are almost extinct! I guess it is due to supply and demand. With the new generation or shoppers being wooed by the ease of foreign imports or ordering goodies on internet, one can get to eat anything they so choose from any part of the world.

So much so that when I travel say to Australia, I only buy things that I can never find in lil red dot. For example, in Australia, the range of Arnott’s Tim Tam comes in so many flavors. Our local flavours imported generally suits the majority of customers and so, till a pent up demand asks for it, will any store bring it in.

But the cost of chocolate bars from Cadbury or Nestles in Australia are so much cheaper than when bought in lil red dot. It would be economical to buy and stock up when I travel but since I cannot lug heavy things, I do away with bulk buying and only indulge in newly launched flavours.

As for souvenir chocolate bars to give away, I tell you a secret, I go to our local Cocoa Tree shop and look at the label to ensure it is made in Australia and buy as many as I need to give as gifts. This beats the hassle of lugging to airport, clearing customs etc. Ssssshhh!!

I was surprised when I saw a packet of Tim Tam dark chocolate cookies going for $1.20 at a neighborhood chain of stores called “ABC”. It contained 8 biscuits as compared to the larger pack ones that costs SGD4.25 per packet when not on sale. I read that it was imported from Indonesia. Curious, I bought 2 packets. Why so cheap?!

On opening it, I found the presentation of the way the cookie was coated in dark chocolate odd. The Tim Tams that I buy from the supermarkets are quality controlled to ensure the chocolate biscuit is well coated with dark chocolate with no part of the biscuit “exposed, naked without chocolate”

The ones I saw in the cheap packet had portions not chocolate covered. Taste wise it was different too but nearly almost quite like the taste of the original Tim Tams.

So, what I was eating were “fake” Tim Tams unless Tim Tam has allowed rights to this company to produce it to suit the masses for the Indonesian market which is largely perhaps catered to the rural poor perhaps? I live and learn.

This brings me to the hot topic of discussion with my local deejays. Masterchef UK recently upset a lot of Asians and Malaysians because the 2 chefs (not real chefs we were told as they were professionally known as TV Producers) made a Malaysian chef lose as her Chicken Rendang was apparently without “crispy skin” and the meat “did not fall out” easily.

Twitter had its field day and even the Prime Minister of Malaysia and British High Commissioner to Malaysia chimed in.

It was quite clear that these 2 British men who were judges on Masterchef UK were ignorant of how Malaysian cuisine is cooked.

It is sad when a foreigner thumbs down a dish when it is native to Asia and mixes up tastes to that of Indonesia and Malaysia, which I know too, have different recipes.

To add salt to the wounds, the silly 2 judges tweeted that he found it “exciting how this has invoked interest and ended it with Namaste” and so this riled people even more as it showed he had no clue that Namaste is an Indian word and not a Malay word.

As for me, I felt respect was lacking from the 2 judges for this Malay dish and I do feel for the lady Malaysian Chef who was chided for a dish that is native Malaysian.

I have respect for Chef Ramsey as he can be mean and shoot off his mouth and use foul words to scold the contestants who are chefs but he knows his food. At the end of it all, he sets a new level for each chef in the making.

I end with what Glenn Ong the deejay said, “watch Masterchef for kids” it is better.

As for FD the deejay, he said “ the two persons made his blood boil!”

My closing comments..Namaste! Karma will get those 2 blokes as their production ratings would plunge, I am sure and worst still, they may have to answer to the Malaysian PM and or UK’s PM to apologize as after all food can be the cause of diplomacy and we cannot upset it, in any way.

 

 

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CM’s Food Porn #23 – Food Finale For Kuantan, Malaysia

CM or Classmate sent me this on Saturday. He said his job was done in Kuatan and would be going back.

But not before tucking into a Korean BBQ with a colleague there.

Koreans love their BBQ and are great carnivore lovers.

Below shows raw beef liver, another must have according to CM.

Strips of beef are then put onto this grill plate to be BBQ.

I remember the Korean Restaurants in Singapore use inverted griddles.

It then has a cone structure such that the juices dribble down to the hot plate. Here it seems a different way of cooking or barbequing meats.

CM said that raw garlic and chillis are his must have condiments.

How do they eat the BBQ meats?

Use a lettuce leaf as a wrap over a piece of BBQ meat, one clove garlic and 1 piece cut green chilli with kimchi.

Hot spicy kimchi soup to wash it all down!

CM sure knows how to eat is my take😃

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