Isn’t it quick how time flies by? I haven’t been here this whole semester and it’s no thanks to my crazy school schedule. Now, finally after a week of tests and presentations, I can take a breather of half an hour to finally write.

I am facing an identity crisis now and as my graduation date nears (I still have at least 6 months), I am supposed to hop onto a job train that will guide me to my future. Thing is, I really don’t have a fixed idea on what I want to do.

As far as I can remember, these are the things that I actually aspired to become – teacher, wedding planner, hotel chain tycoon, chocolatier, night club owner, fashion designer, baker, yoga instructor (with no knowledge about yoga), veterinarian, zookeeper, farmer, wellness brand tycoon, food critic, graphic designer, urban planner, hostel owner, entrepreneur, conservationist, UN environmentalist… the list goes on forever.

Lately, having been speaking to friends regarding their post-university life but haven’t quite found the answers there too. I am just trying to make the most of my university life while I can and this semester I have picked up some yoga classes (I know I said that it makes my mind wander, so I am really trying hard to be present and stuff), some ballet classes and even a pole fitness class. I know nothing about these, and I can’t wait to learn.

At this point in the semester, I feel as burnt out as a creme brulee. I can’t wait for the exams to be over because learning is fun, but studying isn’t. So off I go to sprint past the final part of the engineering segment of my degree education.

I’ll be back in a few weeks.

Cycle Commuting

Today, I led the most healthful morning.

I woke up at 715am, after around 7 hours of sleep, went for breakfast (this is rare), and borrowed a bicycle to cycle around the Nanyang Technological University campus for a pilot run for a school project.

I had to borrow a bicycle because I don’t own one. I borrowed it from John, a fellow student. I don’t own a bicycle because my confidence in cycling is maybe 3 out of 10. After having ridden on the Death Road in Bolivia (which I swear I will post in due course), my confidence increased from 1 to 2. And after today, maybe it has risen to a healthy 3. Honestly, it’s only a half-truth to say that I can ride a bike. It takes some serious guts to cycle in a constrained area (like the pavement or sidewalk) where other people are walking and cycling and pushing strollers. Let’s just say I have inconsistent control of the bicycle. I’m very thankful to be alive and to have hurt no one in the 1 hour I was away on the roads.

For a total novice at cycling, I found it pretty manageable (save for a few minor heart beats skipped) to cycle from Pioneer MRT to NTU. In the morning, I found the weather favourable for cycling. And that is after stepping out of my air-conditioned room in Hall 8. It could be exceptional weather today, but I doubt morning temperatures go much higher. Even when there was sunshine on the pavement, it was intermittent because there was a lot of shade provided by the trees and buildings in the area.

The main problem I had, which really isn’t a problem if you are better at cycling than I am (not a very hard thing to accomplish), was the narrow pavements. When there was no one else sharing my pavement, I felt perfectly comfortable cycling in a straight line. But once a figure appears in my line of vision. That’s it. My bicycle goes crazy and windy. I am so sorry to all the commuters I have frightened. I think there were 5. But towards the end of my journey I got the hang of it and just kept telling myself to keep calm and maintain a straight path. Breathe Su, breathe.

Slopes in NTU are more manageable than I expected and generally, people around Pioneer have very good bicycling and pedestrian etiquette. That is always good news. It isn’t surprising after you see just how many people cycle around Pioneer MRT station. It’s a surprisingly large number and I’m surprised there aren’t even wider pavements for them. There was even a double-deckered bus (service 192) whose driver very graciously waited for me by the pedestrian crossing although I was at least 2-3 metres from the crossing. Also, most people responded well when I rang the bicycle bell to alert them of my presence. The only real scary part was the roundabout in NTU (which leaves much to be desired for pedestrians), but even then most motorists are very patient and always wait to see what I am going to do next before they make their move. Of course, being the scaredy-cat or timid cyclist that I am, I waited for at least 5 cars to make their turns before daring to make mine. I survived! You don’t have to be Tour de France pros to cycle. This morning I have more to work on for my project.

Commuting via cycling is the future of sustainable, liveable cities. One day my dream of a bicycle culture in Singapore may realise and we’ll be seeing pretty bikes (like these PUBLIC bicycles) around the city. I remember walking past PUBLIC bikes in San Francisco and wishing I owned the entire catalogue. It’s like a Vespa or a VW Beetle, without the fuel consumption. Plus, you really get to exercise with these bikes and feel the breeze upon your face. If someone as afraid as me could ride on the pavements, there’s really nothing else to be worried about. What’s not to love about non-motorised transport, really?

Pre-sleep thoughts

School starts tomorrow and I am avoiding sleep because if I do, my next moment of consciousness will be a school day.

The great thing about being a student in university is that my hours are very flexible and few. However, after five weeks of bumming around not using my academic brain much, the thought of going back to school kinda stinks.

This weekend has been a rollercoaster and for the first weekend of the year (post new year season) I have not kept any resolutions unsurprisingly.

Cheer practice leaves me in all sorts of aches, right to the tips of my fingers. Despite the fact that I really want to stretch more and do yoga, most of the time, my ass is whooped from being an old hag with back aches. That could just be lazy Su dishing out excuses. At this point, I don’t really know. All I know is that I’ve been overeating over the weekend and that will stop and must stop immediately.

Sometimes I forget that my body ages too and my metabolism is doing as I age. My patience wears thinner, and my body wears quicker.

I’ve been baking with E this weekend and it seems we have successfully made something that appealed to everyone who ate it. I should write about that more next time.

For now, I’ll make more art, read more and work out more.

Xx

Happy New Year!

I wish I blogged more, and the last quarter of this year has been a post-drought for me because I have been very preoccupied with, uhm, life? With the new year here, I really wanted to breathe some life into this page again.

2014 has been a great year for me. I spent the bulk of it in California and how time flies when you are having fun. From road trips to apartment hunting to living the San Francisco, I had a whale of a time. (Apartment hunting, not so much, that was a chore.) From all the awesome ice cream, spinach and bacon quiches, barre classes, and conversations had to walking up crazy slopes, going to mega flea markets, and stargazing, I had the most wonderful time. My support group and go-to homies in have been nothing but amazing.

Back in Singapore, my fitness routine has slowed down even though I was determined to work off weight I had accumulated in the USA. After a while I just gave up and started baking stuff. But the best thing about being in Singapore is that the weight just drops off because I am no longer eating upsized portions.

Having said that, being reunited with E has made eating a lot more enjoyable and frequent, because we are typical gluttons with each other. I also shop a lot less because everything here is so expensive and I am too busy to head out to shop anyway.

Maybe the most dramatic thing that happened to me was deciding to cut out commercial shampoos and soaps in my life. I purchased a bunch of stuff to help me with my journey and although it sounds crazy, I haven’t shampooed in around  2 weeks. Yeah. Now I sound like a smelly person. That will be an update for another time.

2015 will be more magical and fun-filled. It is the last year of my university education, officially. Because I do not intend to extend my time at school thanks. There will be exciting parties to plan for. I want to spend more time with my family,  more time with myself, more time with friends, complete my FYP successfully, continue hanging out with E and learning to bake and cook together. Eat better and cut out processed sugars, workout more, cook in school more often, have more conversations, sleep better, pick up new skills, use my phone less, and be more present.

2015, let’s go!

Melaka Weekend

Malaysia. The land of awesome food. Just across the causeway. Without a car, it’s such a chore to get to. This weekend getaway was E’s idea because we were all so busy: him with basketball matches and me with projects and events to plan. Now that the Halloween event is over (the last of the semester), he thought it’d be good if we chilled out before exams start. Plus, the last time we really were on vacation together was 11 months ago in California. We both miss the golden state so much. I wouldn’t consider this trip a travelling trip because we only ate and ate and ate.

The most exciting part about being in Malaysia is that everywhere you eat you get really good food. Without a car, the region we could wander around efficiently was the cultural heritage/tourist centre of Melaka. Fortunately, all the good food happens to be concentrated there.

Peranakan food was the highlight for me. I am a sucker for ayam buah keluak, as I have probably mentioned in my previous post. E did not appreciate it at all. He compared it to a ground cashew nut. I was mortified of course. How can you compare buah keluak to a common cashew?!? Just, no. (But he said he’s willing to learn to cook it with me, so I guess we’re even. He’s a keeper!)

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E scooping buah keluak for me ^^. He thinks it is like ground cashew nuts. Plebian.

As usual, we overestimated our appetites and ordered so much the dude taking our orders questioned our ability to finish what we ordered. I am biased when I say this, but ayam buah keluak was the best dish. They blended the nut and it was so smooth and fine. I wanted to cry {tears of joy} finally being able to eat it after being deprived of it for over 2 years. Needless to say, I ate all the nuts and gave E all the chicken in the bowl. What is chicken?! Having said that, it’s definitely an acquired taste because E just couldn’t get past the fact he was eating black nuts. I guess that was good for me ’cause I got to eat everything in the end.

I think I was dead to the other dishes, but apparently the assam duck was really yummy and I enjoyed the soup.

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Look at his eager dinner face.

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Nancy’s Kitchen: not food.

If you haven’t tried Peranakan food, I’d recommend Nancy’s Kitchen in Melaka, because it definitely has a reputation of putting out consistently delicious food and its recipes are supposed to be traditional and passed down for over 3 generations. This is, of course, unverified and I’ll just take it because I had good food and I don’t care how old your recipes are actually. Nancy’s Kitchen is along Jalan Hang Jebat near to Jonker Walk. Just ask anyone, we asked an old lady who didn’t understand a shred of English but understood Nancy’s Kitchen. That’s powerful Nancy.

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Photo moments while looking for Nancy

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Nancy’s neighbours

Nancy’s kitchen is situated right beside a bar area and just a couple of minutes away is the Jonker Walk Night Market. As you can see, we arrived at Nancy’s Kitchen when it was still daylight because we wanted to have an early dinner to beat any crowds. #trueblueSingaporean And after dinner we strolled the night market.

We also indulged a little (a lot) in dessert. Aside from Chendol, we ate very awesome mille crepes. O.M.G. So awesome. That may be our next bake.

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The ‘Original’ Mille Crepe

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The Gula Melaka Mille Crepe

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E devouring them

I know, it’s kinda weird to be eating mille crepes in Melaka. But I’m glad we did. The Melaka we visited was rather walkable, although a car would have been more convenient, and we’d probably venture out of the tourist centre. We tried two mille crepes – one without special flavours and one with irresistible gula melaka.

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Gobble that up.

I’m a sucker for that palm sugar. I haven’t been to Melaka in a while, but I’m guessing this establishment is new. It’s called Nadeje and it’s at Mahkota. Initially I wanted to head to the shopping area to buy some shorts, but I didn’t come across any ones with the right price. It’s just cotton, but they’ll still charge you unreasonably.

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Old structures in Melaka

Melaka kept a lot of its European architecture and buildings. The Dutch, Portuguese and British influence here is rather striking. I also love how the trishaw  riders decorate their trishaws. I saw Doraemon ones and Hello Kitty ones with boom boxes.

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Hoe Kee Chicken Rice

Oh my goodness. I know, there are many awesome chicken rice stores in Singapore already and I particularly like the one in Upper Serangoon Road, but we couldn’t resist the rice balls. Looks at them! They look incredibly appetising and I can just recall their texture in my mouth. Just the right moisture and size. So awesome. Brb drooling.

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My favourite store sign

As we were walking to find chendol, I was very intrigued by this shop. Because it has nice lettering that fit the whole vibe of the store. No curios for me to buy though, as a budget traveler I can only spend on food.
 

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Famous chendol shop has more curios.

We headed to Jonker88 chendol, and it was, uhm average. But but but I love chendol so even average makes me happy and gleeful. We also bought fried tofu skin while we were there.

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Chendol man servin’ up some dessert.

We had better chendol the next morning at East and West Rendezvous. Breakfast was amazing durian chendol with Nonya dumplings.

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Awesome Durian Chendol

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I love these Nonya Rice Dumplings

Prep work with blue rice.

Seriously. I love Nonya Rice Dumplings. (Or Nonya zhang) The fragrance of the banana(?) leaves and pork just embraces your nose. I would have bought some back to Singapore but we ran out of money. We did buy some cincalok and gula melaka back though. The durian chendol was really good because the sweetness of the duriann gave the chendol a punch of flavour. The very distinct and beloved durian flavour.

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We took a tourist selfie at the fort area.

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We also stumbled upon an art demonstration showcase and decided to try paper cutting too.

Melaka has been very awesome and it makes me look forward to future trips to Malaysia.

These are the places I mentioned in the post:

Nancy’s Kitchen
7 Jalan Hang Lekir
75200 Melaka, Malaysia

Nadeje
G-23 & 25, Jalan PM4, Plaza Mahkota, 75000, Melaka, Melaka, 75000, Malaysia

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice
468, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia

60 East & West Rendezvous
60 Lorong Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia

They are all in the same area near the river. Great even for people with poor navigation. We also chanced upon an awesome coffee shop with hand made kaya and duck noodles. But I have forgotten what it is called. It is along Jalan Hang Jebat. Till next time!

X

Yoga? : Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but from observation, people who love HIIT workouts (like yours truly) often have trouble with the stillness that yoga practice involves. I’ve heard of runners’ yoga, cyclists’ yoga. I’m neither because I am horrible at both – I once forgot how to cycle, yes, it is possible. I accomplished that unfortunately. I wish I was good at all three – running, cycling and yoga. Ugh, running. Thinking about it makes me cringe. If only I would wake up one day and decided I love running. But I digress (again and the reason why I am not a yogi).1912000_10152069514637879_1078170857_oThis is the closest I get to yoga: I need a setting, a tranquil river and nature in a quiet Zion National Park. I’m not even in yoga pants for that matter – those are running tights. Simply put, I just do not have the discipline for yoga, nor does my heart want to be still for extended periods of time. I’m easily distracted, fidgety and always thinking about something. So I have trouble ‘focusing on my breath’. Do you know what that means? ‘Cuz I don’t.

Also, am I a total loser for saying that I can’t tell one asana from the next? The only yoga classes I have taken were in California, and they all were so fluent in yogi language that all I heard was something-something-asana. Or maybe I’m just slow to comprehend? I’m a yoga failure.

It doesn’t help that yoga classes in Singapore are craaazy expensive. A poor student like me is not gonna be able to afford that. At all. Nevertheless, the few times I did manage to engage my mind during yoga class (trust me, the really few times I didn’t become bored) I really enjoyed how my energy levels went up for the day and how happy I was. When I took barre class, I particularly enjoyed the yoga-like experience it gave me too. So I’m really ambivalent about yoga practice now.

As a November resolve, I will begin regular yoga practice. Not only is it a reason for me to use my otherwise obsolete yoga clothes I bought, I really feel like my busy schedule can use at least a fifteen-minute daily morning yoga routine. I tried to ask E to do it with me. He gets bored easily too. But during the weekends we always try out new workouts and I might reintroduce yoga to him again. (Fingers crossed)

Let’s hope I can muster enough discipline to do more than that corpse pose. Namaste. To being a future yogi.

Food: Cream Pasta + Arbite

The other day I was walking back from a class with Nipton and he was telling me he’d never buy cream pasta in a restaurant again because he’s been cooking and realised how awesome and easy cream pasta is to cook.

I don’t know my Alfredo from my Carbonara because I’m not really a pasta-ordering person myself. But I tried cooking it last weekend with E.

I used:

1 box (350ml of whipping cream)
Parmesan Cheese (Nipton insists that the more expensive chunks are way superior to the ready-grated ones and I agree)
Salmon (200g) cut into small bite-sizes
Chicken (200g) seasoned with soy sauce, thyme and black pepper and cut into small pieces to your preference
Prawns (20) halve or third the prawns into comfortable eating sizes
White button mushrooms (100g)
1 garlic (sorry, cloves? what are cloves. more garlic = better)
half a white onion
Spaghetti (400 grams fed 6 people, I tried to look for linguine but it wasn’t meant to be)
Parsley for garnish and light seasoning
Cherry tomatoes for garnish

Yeah, we practically cooked for an entire village.

Steps:
1. Add a knob of butter into a hot deep pan and coat the pan with melted butter. Smell that butter. It’s so good. Now add diced garlic and onions in.

2. Start cooking the pasta by boiling water and adding the pasta in when water is boiled. I like to salt my water too. Cook until the pasta is al dente. You have to use your mouth to test its texture, otherwise, you’ll never know. After it’s done, sieve the pasta and run it under cold water so it remains that texture and doesn’t cook from the residual heat.

3. If the smell of butter and onions gets better: great, you’re on track but don’t be tempted to eat that yet. Add chicken and remove the chicken from heat once fully cooked.

4. Add cream into the pan. and let it simmer. Then add the prawns, and mushrooms. Add salmon after mushrooms start to cook and finally add the chicken.

5. Grate the parmesan over the simmering delight of cream gravy. Add as much as your heart desires. This is the most fun part and it makes me happy watching the flakes of cheese fall and melt into the pan. Mix the cheese in.

6. To serve, ladle the ingredient-laden gravy onto your spaghetti and garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and parsley.

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There you have it: I told you it was filled with chunks of meat.

Last weekend, we also finally sat ourselves down for brunch. I love brunch: because it means that I can eat for two meals and because it means that it’s a weekend.

We headed down to Arbite at Serangoon Gardens.
In a very typical manner, we over-ordered. (Glutton alert) This happens when we order on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, it is inevitable because we almost always have empty stomachs when we order food.

We ordered fries with (supposedly) buah keluak dip. I LOVE buah keluak, like, to the ends of the earth. It’s a nut typically used in Peranakan dishes. (If you haven’t tried it, please stop depriving yourself and get them in your tummy!)

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The fries were seasoned superbly and they were all good on their own. Chompchompchomp. The dip was not what I was expected it to be though. It was still very much like slightly salty and sour mayonnaise. Maybe I should have ordered the truffle fries…(it’s the chocolate ice cream of fries, you never go wrong friends). The fries were good on their own anyway so whatevs, I gobbled them up, until my mains came: Duck and Eggs. I was torn between the Salmon Eggs Florentine and this, but it felt like a duck day, so, duck it was.

I wish I knew how to poach eggs like them. They were perfectly dome-shaped and the yolk just oozed out with yellow happiness. Happiness. The best part about eating a sunny-side up is breaking the yolk and gobbling it up. Slurpz.

wpid-wp-1413453576749.jpegMy very handsome date attacking a fry.

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We couldn’t finish the fries in the end and you know what, I wish I still have some now because I’m hungry. There are so many things that I wanted to try there but couldn’t. Like the gula melaka tiramisu. Two of my favourite foods. In one dessert. Say it isn’t so. I guess that means I’ll have to go back to try them! :)

This weekend we’ll cook more and hopefully I can make a Halloween costume too. I’m psyched.

xxx
Su

Food: Mushroom Risotto

This happened last weekend with the brownies: a fantastic full weekend of cooking. Like, full. My tummy was full. We cooked mushroom risotto with a recipe adapted from here. We didn’t completely follow it because we had to have meat in our risotto and we decided to cook it the traditional way. First things first, we used chicken stock from cubes because we are lazy bums. The base of the risotto was made with garlic, white onion, and extra mushrooms from the previous dish, the hoisin chicken wraps. We added a while lot of arborio rice, which is so hard to find in Singapore. We got our box of rice from Fair Price Finest. Then we added chicken stock slowly and mixed it in until it was fully absorbed. I guess the Italians really take pride in their food. Making risotto is such a labor of love. My favorite part is watching the rice puff up and be ultra starchy. (We didn’t wash the rice prior to cooking because we didn’t want to wash away starch!) Cooking with E is always really enjoyable because we get to add in our own ideas and his ideas are wacky as heck sometimes. He is also ultra persistent and persevering so when we fail in always encouraged by his positivity to carry on cooking. What an awesome kitchen partner. But I digress again. We added blitzed mushrooms into the mixture and some cream to make it… Uhm. Creamy. Cooked some chicken and shredded it, baked some Parmesan chips, et voila!

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Served in a huge cup!

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E loves risotto. Anything creamy and cheesy. Mmmmm. He made the awesome Parmesan chips and they were such a beautiful touch to the dish, and I love cheese. Much less baked cheese chips.

Happy eating.

What should we do next weekend?

xx

Food: Hoisin Chicken Wraps

I love wraps. E loves the end of wraps where all the wrap carbs are gathered so he can bite into bread-like density. I was in the grocery store earlier than E because he was at work and I was hungry so I decided to search for food to cook. Something healthy, since I was going to feed him super sinful brownies. He loves wraps, and wraps are easy. So I adapted a recipe off here.

Ingredients:

Chicken – we marinated with Hoisin and some seasoning before grilling them
Hoisin
Watercress
Tortilla wraps (found in the bread section at the grocery store after I searched up and down the frozen section)
Cucumber – E hates raw stuff so he opted out of cucumber wraps. Needless to say, it was almost full-meat wrapping for him.
Mushrooms
Corn
Garlic

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The best thing about wraps is that you don’t really have to care about measurements. You just wrap what you like and eat what you wrap. I like extra raw garlic in mine and extra corn and extra meat… as long as my wrap is bursting with stuff that isn’t bitter gourd or celery, I’m all good. E likes his wrap extra crispy so we heated them for longer.

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Slurps! I think the recommended serving was something like 2 wraps per person. Heck, we ate around 4 each.

xxx

Desserts: Surprise Gooey Strawberry Brownies

Happy September to All! It’s an extremely eventful month universally. September magazine issues are the largest and there are so many birthdays to celebrate! E and I share the same birthday month and this year it is the first time we’ll be in the same country to celebrate it! I am thrilled.

Unfortunately, as my duties as a student start to become a mountain of tasks and my calendar starts to pack, I won’t be around (in the east side of Singapore) to celebrate E’s birthday with him. So I decided to make surprise brownies this week. (My only free friday for the next 2 weeks.)

I modified the recipe from BBC Good Food and after eating it, I will have to make more modifications. Nothing is ever perfect, especially on the first try.

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Chocolate/Cocoa/Strawberries/Flour/Sugar/Eggs/Butter

I was so happy to find Ghirardelli baking chocolate in the supermarket! This is the first time I’m seeing it outside of the USA and I was so excited! Hahaha Instead of raspberries as mentioned in the recipe, I used strawberries because strawberries here are sour instead of sweet. I have no idea why. And they are much more affordable than the raspberries. And I’ll bet E doesn’t like the taste of raspberries. Once again, butter is not Buttercup because it is not real butter. Seriously. I can’t emphasise how bad this fake butter is for you and your arteries.

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The best part about this recipe is that I didn’t need to do much whisking, so my already-aching arms could be given a break. Although, carrying the groceries from the store to the kitchen is heavily taxing too. For people who like to live in oblivion and just eat good food, I suggest for you not to look at the recipe because honestly it is scary. And for that the next time I will definitely reduce the amount of sugar and butter in the batter and maybe add more flour to get a more chewy texture.

Surprisingly I took just slight over 45 minutes to do all the prep work and get the tin into the oven. This is quite a feat for me because I am always exceeding expected prep times by hours. I always spend so much time getting ingredients and equipment out.

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I love watching my trays in the oven change with heat. It is indeed magical and special.

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After this shot was taken I had to bake it for even longer because the centre was too gooey. But I didn’t take any photos of that. Oops we forgot cause we were too blinded by gluttony. This recipe is perfect for surprises because you don’t have to use any whisking equipment or make loud noises while stirring. In fact, most of the work is done with a spatula or wooden spoon. You can be as quiet as a mouse and still cook up an amazing brownie.

I met E at a grocery store to buy stuff for our amazing risotto (weekend food) and for dinner (wraps!). We made some yummy wraps for dinner. He loves wraps. But more about that in another post.

I am so excited for the next weekend of cooking adventures. Maybe we should use up those frozen egg whites. (I should probably start doing my homework too.)

xx
Su