Archive for August, 2007

Hello Friends!

August 29, 2007

Holden

Loves fruits and vegetables and unlimited belly rubs.

Murphy

Murphy

Conducts frequent squirrel checks and tries to sniff the camera.

Murphy

Kitty Cat

Practices yoga, drinks from the tap and loves to cuddle.

(Anyone got a better picture of Kitty Cat?)

Kitty Cat

Backyard Cat

Lives somewhere across the street, frequent visitor, raids Kitty Cat’s bowl.

Backyard Cat

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TV, Oh TV, Whatever Has Befallen You?

August 29, 2007

I just have to say something about this. It’s sad, the state of our local entertainment scene. And it appears that the responsibility for the state of affairs fall squarely on the shoulders of the local conglomerate of media broadcasters.

In the run up to the current talent search, a media executive was quoted on the newspaper saying something to the effect of looks being more important because “talent can nurtured but looks cannot”. Er… isn’t that contradictory to conventional wisdom? Looks can be aided by make-up or even plastic surgery but if you can’t act, well, you just can’t act. With an attitude like that, it’s no wonder they’re churning out a host of good-looking but forgettable artistes. Most aren’t even good-looking enough to distract the audience from the fact that they can’t act.

And it seems such “wisdom” is infecting common culture, or perhaps such “wisdom” is common culture, because, last week, one columnist wrote in an afternoon paper about the contestant he deemed most promising and went on to say that she excels in posing due to her modeling background, but is rather awkward when it comes to dialogue and movement. And that is his most promising contestant?! I believe acting has moved on to placing more emphasis on dialogue and movement ever since the talking TV has been invented. Someone should tell him that!

Findings In The Midst Of Madness

August 28, 2007

I spotted this dress in a “What Is She Wearing?!?” sort of column while hanging out with patients and reading a magazine in the day-room of the behavioural health ICU.

All around me, people were either in hospital gowns, hospital gowns layered over or under mismatched clothing, or plain ol’ mismatched clothing. Some were also reading a magazine, some were making phone calls, some were dozing, some pacing. People in scrubs were going about dispensing pills, asking about bowel movements, or administering a dose of reality.

One guy was wearing a newspaper hat and made newspaper hats for everyone. I like him. And his hats. They are cool. He matches hats to faces, putting them on someone’s head and then changing to another if he deems that it doesn’t fit. All his hats can be folded flat for easy storage in the pocket. I was rather sore that he thought the one that fit me was a simple triangular one, not dissimilar to what a house painter might wear. Not the fancy tall one, nor the one shaped like a bishop’s, nor the funky square pill-box. Oh well…

But I digress. Here’s the dress.

Dress

I don’t see what there is to dislike about the dress. Sure, not everyone would look good in it. And I can’t judge if this particular person looks good in it. But, the dress is darling.

Another find I’d made in the same circumstances is the best recipe for a chocolate dessert ever. It never stays intact for long every time I make it, so no photos. But here’s the recipe.

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Tart

Preparation Time

10 minutes, plus time to bake tart shell

Cooking Time

5 minutes, plus refrigeration time

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

2 ½ tablespoons honey

8 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

pre-made tart shell (preferably a graham cracker crust, baked as per instructions on the package)

Heat heavy cream and honey in a 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles begin to form.

Place chopped chocolate in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add half the hot cream to chocolate, let mixture stand for about 30 seconds undisturbed, then stir lightly to combine.

Repeat with remaining cream, then stir the resulting ganache gently until all chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth

Add butter and whisk until well blended.

Fill shell with ganache, transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate until filling is set, about 1 ½ hours. When ready, remove tart from refrigerator and serve.

Do yourself a favour: Make the tart, choose one – and only one – loved one to share it with, make a pot of tea, sit down, enjoy.

Cereals Are We

August 26, 2007

Over dinner, some friends were discussing what kind of cereal best represents ourselves.

TBF is a Banana Nut Crunch. He sure is bananas, nutty and cranky.

Banana Nut Crunch

Roommate proclaims herself to be Special K with Blackberries, to collective understanding “mm”s. The Special K cos she is health conscious and the blackberries, a minor amendment to the colour of the fruit, as a reference to her preference for guys of African descent.

Special K

I’m good ol’ Corn Pops, simple and old-fashioned, yellow and mildly sweet.

Corn Pops

And it seems coincidental, or perhaps our personalities do dictate our tastes, that those cereals are each of our favourite cereals.

When one guy asked about another mutual friend, Roommate and I immediately shared a look and laughed. The newest cereal on tv was the half-frosted shredded wheat. Can’t remember the exact name of that cereal. The commercial had the shredded wheat pillow as a Jekyll and Hyde kindof character, where the frosted side was all sweet and polite while the plain side was gruff.

This guy in question would call us on the house phone, and depending on which of us picks up the phone, would be all, “Hello Honey! How are you doing, Sweetie?” or all pal-ly, “Hey, you guys want to catch dinner tonight?”

We had just found this out a few days before the dinner conversation, when Roommate was done with a conversation with him, hung up and duh-ed, “This Jeff, he’s such a flirt.” Puzzled, I asked what she meant. That’s when we found out that he uses a different vocabulary for each of us. Ha!

So, what cereal are you?

P.S. Hello Roomie!

Time Flies And Soup Boils

August 20, 2007

Time flies.

Yes, cliche, I know. But true.

Today is a new day, the first day of a new leg in life.

Yes, cliche again, I know. But also true.

Anyway, I made the most delicious soup for dinner yesterday. I reverse-engineered it after I had it once at Souplantation.  They never served it again, well, at least not whenever I was there, so I had to make my own.

Try it yourself!

All quantities are estimates, adjust according to taste or whim.

Olive, Spinach and Basil Soup

1 onion, diced

1 can jumbo pitted olive, bruised and roughly chopped

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

2 stalks of celery, finely sliced (or use the tender heart, throw in the leaves uncut)

1 package of spinach leaves

2 stalks of basil, cut leaves into ribbons

1 pot of beef stock

1. Saute onion and olive, in a large soup pot, with a little olive oil until tender.

2. Add tomatoes and saute for a bit more.

3. Pour in beef stock, add celery.

4. Boil gently until flavour melds, about 1 hour.

5. Taste and add a commercial beef cube for flavour if necessary.

6. Just before serving, add spinach and basil.

7. When spinach and basil are wilted, serve.

This soup is especially yummy with home-made beef stock.

Beef Stock

1 tonne of fresh beef, cubed

4 carrots, cut into half

4 stalks of celery, cut into half

1 onion, whole

6 bay leaves

1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add in beef.

2. Boil for a few minutes to remove scum.

3. Pour out water, quickly rinse the beef.

4. Add more water and bring to boil.

5. Add carrots, celery, onion and bay leaves.

6. Boil for 2 hours, keeping watch initially to remove scum.

7. Remove all ingredients and strain gently to achieve a clear beef stock.

Of course, I’m kidding about the 1 tonne of beef. I used about $5 of stewing beef cubes from the fresh market.

Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Mother-Island!

August 8, 2007

It’s that time of the year again, when we celebrate our mother-island’s achivement and progress with an extensive campaign, a grand parade, amazing fireworks and cheesy songs.

I really wish we could do without the cheesy songs. Some songs are good, some songs ok, some songs cringe-worthy. This year’s theme song has to be one of the worst ever. Why the songwriter compares our mother-island with the River Kwai, I really don’t know. I guess it’s one of those few things that rhymes with “don’t know why”.

But if you think about it, it doesn’t even make sense. River Kwai is most commonly associated with the Death Railway, the construction of which costed more than a hundred thousand lives. So if you think of River Kwai, it’s plain to see that life is much better here on our mother-island.

It’s also this time of the year that one hears people dismissing the whole hoo-lah, proclaiming themselves to be”not patriotic”, some even proud of that fact. Well, I’m not exactly a flag-waving, song-singing, white pants-wearing patriot either, but I’m proud of my little mother-island. Sure, there are things that need improvement. Even so, this is a mighty fine place to live in.

There are not many places in the world where one can have naan, curry, chicken rice and fish & chips for dinner (all at the same place), adjourn to a waffle and gelato dessert, watch a movie, futher adjourn to a late-night coffee shop, then, when it’s way after midnight, take public transportation and walk home without fear for life, limb, wallet or modesty.

Sure, the crime rate might be slowly climbing. But we can be assured that the relevant people are on it. There are many places in the world where, when one indulges in the above late-night routine, one is pretty much guaranteed to end the night lodging a report at the police station. Some places, even that would be futile.

Praises aside, I do wish that the island isn’t quite so populated. On weekends, one feels as if one is on a dinner-dessert-movie-supper date with a thousand people. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when we reach our projected “ideal” population.

Maybe all the “I’m not patriotic” people should move out. That’ll leave the somewhat- to very-patriotic people to enjoy the island even more.

What a very good idea, Self! Now, who do I go to to pitch that idea?

Another Mahna Mahna

August 3, 2007

 

1969, Sesame Street
Featuring Bip Bipadotta and Anything Muppet Girls

Simple Pleasure

August 1, 2007

It’s the end of the school day. Students are packed into the school bus and sent off. Teachers trickle into the staff room with creaky-boned groans, laughter and a sense of relief and satisfaction. Bruises are compared and scratches sympathised with. Stories shared and laughed over. Re-enactments and more laughter follows. We’re hungry. Muesli bars are tossed around, shared and exchanged. A box of chocolates makes its rounds. Someone tosses out packets of pong biah, a local biscuit with brittle layers of flaky pastry around a tough chewy savoury-sweet centre that softens and melts as one chews. One has to bite hard to get through the centre but the bite sends flaky pastry flying. One by one, we migrate to the sink and jostle for sink space. We eat our biscuits as if we have Monica Geller hovering over us. Complains aloud of “Not enough sink!” It’s a good way to end the day.