Saturday, August 23, 2014

"Song" = ultimate satisfaction

Not in the mood to blog too much this week.
To be honest, I prefer reading and listening. Nonetheless, I intend to sum up this week's experience, within and beyond the kitchen.


I have always feared using an oven (conventional). It left me with a scar on my left arm since I was 10. Only recently, the mark has gradually faded. When I moved into my new flat for the coming academic year, my flatmate taught me the basics of the oven we have. That was while I watched her dished up her dinner using just the oven. Impressed, I decided to give it ago (against all fears). 

So there, I tried it first on a seafood side-dish, followed by oatmeal, my first time baking a loaf of bread, and later managed to serve up a complete dinner just using the oven. 
The feeling of "song" did not come just from savouring each mouthful of those dishes. The best "song" was the sense of accomplishment, and exhilaration that came with it- I overcame my fear. 

I would bring this courage with me beyond the kitchen, and am sure, can create a life full of "song" - a life I love. 

Have the courage to:

1. Practise vulnerable.
-What?: Process of owning your story
-Why? : Allows you to stand strong and appreciate the experiences that made you YOU. Provides the foundation for us to step forward more courageously as we build increasing self-acceptance. 
-How?: Open up to people we trust about our life process

2. Embrace self-doubt
This does not imply an inability to be courageous. Each time we head for a new turn, self-doubt lingers. We don't have much experience to go on to form a realistic hypothesis on how well we'll do. 
So, JUST DO IT ANYWAY. Self-doubt will always be a deterrent. Don't let it gain more power than it already has. 

3. Be myself

4. Let go of "finding my purpose"; it will find me. 

5. Fail 
I think this statement stands on it's own. Have the courage to pick oneself up and move on. "No one really fails; they simply quit". 


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Taking oatmeal to its limits

I never really baked before. I never really liked using the oven. What more, it left me a scar on my left had since 10. Couple of days ago, my flatmate, taught me how to use the oven in our flat. She uses it often. After a few tries on my other mains, I thought I'd try baking my usual oatmeal. When I first tried on baked oatmeal, I was totally hitched to the texture it creates in each mouthful. 

That was when I thought, I should try all possible ways with my childhood favourite: oatmeal. 
Baked, steamed, microwaved, stovetop, you name it, I tried it all today. 

As a child, my mother would cook it on stove top and serve it to us before she zoomed us off to school. (I can still remember how Mom was well-known among my friends as the furious, yet safe, driver. She could even multi-task while driving!) Plain ones are usually served with honey. Sometimes, my Mom would cook it in Milo, or Horlicks or sweetened Spirulina beverage. However it was made, I loved it! 

Even up to my teenage years, oatmeal was a staple at home. My grandpa would even flood his in black coffee. Like me, Grandma loved hers cooked in hot milk, and we both prefer chewy jumbo rolled oats. Whilst staying in boarding schools, oatmeal saved me from cafeteria food. 

Do I have an "obsession" for oatmeal? If so, is it because it's deemed "healthy"
No. Definitely not, neither because it's deemed so. 
I like it just the way how most Asians can't live without rice. For me, it happens to be just oatmeal
I think of it as a base (think 'pizza base'), and just dress it up according to my tastebuds- sweet, spicy, savoury, sour, tangy, creamy, crunchy, chewy, soggy, it's all up whatever the occasion is. Definitely not bitter!

I still enjoy other grains and cereals, e.g. bulgur, freekeh, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, spelt, pasta. But oatmeal, just happens to be what I'd rather eat, if I could only pick one cereal type to survive. Next after oatmeal, would have to be pearled spelt and barley.
I'm not "obsessed" with it like some "health freak". As much as I enjoy healthy living, I always believe it is best to strike a balance;  it is better to derive our nutritional needs from various sources.

I am grateful to have found many other oatmeal fans across the world too, thanks to the advent of social networking today. They inspire me to try out oatmeal in all its potential varieties.

I will and shall remain a loyal fan of oatmeal, no matter how others may think of my level of sanity. 

To further defend myself, I have yet to try oatmeal facial mask or using oatmeal as a remedy. I know I never will. I can't imagine it having it on my face or hair, or anywhere but my gut, and it's purpose remains the same- for survival and pleasure. (Plus, my flatmate enjoyed tasting them!)

Hence, I conclude, I am not as crazily-obsessed as one might think. 



My first time on Baking Oatmeal- Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Honey

Savoury Baked Oatmeal
Baked: Cheeky Cheesy Carrot with Ginger and Paprika


Steamed 5 Spice Oatmeal in Seafood Veg Stir Fry

Deserved a try on chopsticks

The rest are just a few from my past photos: Microwaved and Stove top 


Stove top

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dear Grandma, 

I'll try to go to bed earlier, and remind myself to keep my eyes moist, okay? All right, I promise, happy? 

Lately, despite the wet, unpredictable weather, and a spoilt mobile phone, I've been smiling without realising! I'm sure you'd be happy for me too!

Yesterday was my first visit to Calton Hill. I was there to meet a group of Malaysians for a joint project organised by one of the members. The scenery was breathtaking, and the seaview reminded me of home.It was a lovely evening well spent among some good company. I picked some white flowers, which reminded me of us, taking a photo together during uncle's wedding.  I was surprisingly calm and cheerful throughout the day, despite how hectic my morning went earlier the same day. 

I even made myself a satisfying, artsy lunch! Mom doesn't really approve of how "artsy" my dishes are, but I supposed she was just joking. Hah! Making "artsy" dishes remind me of how you have an eye for the arts.

I'm not sure what they are called, but I adore them!

Smile!: Lime Pepper & Mushroom Steel Cut Oatmeal with 1/2 boiled egg and Avocado

Say cheese!: Garam Masala Steel Cut Oats with Marrowfat Peas, Sweet Potato & Avocado (served with Cauliflower & Celery) 
Made with your fav ingredients:  Lemon Seafood Paella with Cauliflower & Garlic-stuffed Olives (Oven cooked)

It has been pouring all day today. However, I'm grateful for how the day went, and I'd consider it a productive one. Things did not go as how I have planned out the night before, due to the traffic congestion and heavy rain. Since the start of the Fringe Festival, I have never seen the city flooded with so many people (and cars!). It's very much like any festive season back home. (Think North South Highway, during Raya season, or Sungai Besi in the morning...) I had some fun in the kitchen, did laundry, tidied my room, changed the beddings, and learnt how to use the oven (finally!!!). Oh, and I tried some olives stuffed with garlic too! I'm sure you'd love them. Both ingredients were your favourite! I remembered how I refused to try black olives when you offered. I'm pretty sure I'll like them now for their firm, slightly tart and fruity taste.
I made the Paella using Pearl Barley. Remember how Mom would boil barley drink for you everyday too?  

I felt your presence late at night, as I procrastinated on switching off my bedlight. I saw you smile approvingly as I snuggle under my duvet. I was reminded how you would not sleep until you were sure I was in bed. Remember, how you frightened me at 2am, when I crept quietly back into the room after feeling satisfied with my Chemistry revision? I still couldn't help laughing as I reminisce our bedtime moments. We are both night owls, while grandpa would be snoring away minutes after he lay down (even while the room was still lighted!). You and I would listen to music, whatever your choice- oldies, Chinese classical orchestra, Chinese folk songs, or the neighbour's stereo! 

It's still raining as I'm writing to you. Remember how Julie and I used to help you put on your night socks? I'm wearing a pair now too, for its a chilly night. 

Good night for now! Till my next letter to you.


Flowers from spring remind me of you...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Missing home

Time flies. It's close to a year since I left home for Edinburgh. As much as I miss home and it's culture, I am grateful for the new experiences I have gained thus far.

Personally, with each new experience my homesickness is cured, bit by bit.
I've learnt to enjoy the drones of bagpipes, and would jump into any Ceilidh that's available for free.
Sometimes, I cook home-like dishes (first 2 pictures), if I crave for something from home.

This post features some new experience in the kitchen, which of course, is a perfect antidote for homesickness. :)

Things I've learnt from these kitchen experiences:
#1. Cooked red split lentils turn out mushy. Choose alternatives, like green lentils or yellow split peas instead!
#2. The nearby French bakery shop gets down to serious business when it comes to baking-fresh!
#3. Kale is my new favourite green. 
#4. I can't learn to like parsley, still trying a bit of tarragon, but I would never say no to basil and mint


How I crave for roti jala and beef rendang,
and Penang's Assam Laksa, and Nasi Kandar plus extra kuah kari,
Sitting here, I'm grateful for the steak medium well done,
But where can I find Mos Burger, or even the one from Ramly's?

Of course I miss my good old kakis* 
If only...
We could lepak* here like in mamak stalls, except with haggis, neeps and tatties;
and down some good Scotch whiskies,
We could later hop into endless free comedies,
or perhaps join in some Scottish pub ceilidhs!

"Mom, mail me some naan and chicken tandoori from Melaka's Pak Putra,
would you?"
...I asked over Skype.
"Dear, I'm afraid no tiffin can sail through the Royal Mail!"
...she chuckled.
Well, I'm no baby, that would cry or wail,
..thought I.
I'll try to make some bread myself,
despite to little avail,
I am happy it didn't turn out stale!

Enough, Juliet! Yearn no more,
The bliss from spring and blast this summer,
how dare you ask for more?
Those lovely shrubs in the Botanics, had you not adore?
The Games and festivals, what could these exchange for?
Yes, I shall be happy with what we have here in store,
But my content would complete,
if only I could have the soybean curd from Rochor, Geylang Steet!

*For info, feel free to click on the links for those highlighted yellow.
*Kakis = buddies
* Lepak = to hang out

Home food: Steamed sweet cabbage
The remedy: Steamed Sea Brass with Fermented Beancurd

Something I tried: Kale chips!
Green Lentils with Thai Fish Sauce, garnished with dried basil and chilli powder for the spicy kick!

Lemon Pepper Seafood Soup & Sour-bread from French bakery

Kale sautéed with onions, served with sour-bread, soft cheese and Cauliflower

Squeeze of fresh lemons for flavour
Got some potted basil and mint from LIDL.

Thai freshness:  Chicken with a fresh taste of Bell Peppers & Basil

Summer flavour: Avocado Chickpea Salad with Sauteed Mushroom 

...(and later, Eggplant)

What do you do when you miss home?


Saturday, July 26, 2014


Dishing out my tribute to ...

 My dearest grannywhom I still deeply love and miss.....

Roses were your favourite,
You were never inaccurate, 
In music and colours, 
You taught me to be considerate, 
Even while chasing our passions, 
Never be too passionate!

I played The Sweet Bye and Bye, 
which you enjoyed humming by, 
Though you never knew the words, 
Your accompaniment was what I looked forward;
As now I look backwards, 
I wish I have now my songbird.

As you started to go frail, 
I know you tried not to wail, 
It pains me to hear something your body failed, 
Nonetheless, you quietly assured me...
"My strength shall prevail", 
Till today you remain my strong nightingale. 

Julie and I used to quarrel, 
over who would push your wheelchair around, 
No, we never thought it was a trouble, 
We just wanted you to be there, 
wherever we travel; 
But there's only a pair of hands for a pair of handles, 
Oh, how we squabbled over something so miserable. 
I now miss us, acting like squirrels. 

You are now up above the sky, 
enjoying the endless fragrance of roses, 
blooming in such beauty, one could never deny;
I promise I shall not cry, 
I know you are watching above high, 
But do try to come down like a butterfly, 
And we could hum along The Sweet Bye and Bye, 
Before we bid each other goodbye. 

Enjoyed with thoughts of you in company...

StrawberryChia Oatmeal with strawberry sauce and dollops of Greek yogurt

Roses are red;  my thoughts of you shall never fade

Frothy Hot Milk was our favourite, But I enjoy it with cinnamon incorporate.

What underlies this steamed cabbage?
A steaming bowl of beef brisket, which I know you'd love!
Doenjang Cabbage Soup-we would enjoy the slurp!
For you, the Fish Queen: Steamed Cod Fish and Carrots (also your favourite veg), too bad no fish head!

Sweet potato kueh (Malay sweet cake)
I'll make sure Mommy's not watching ;-)

We both love the crust/base best...

Not forgetting... the victims of MH17, the recent Algerian and Taiwanese airplanes, the innocent victims in Gaza, and the ill-fated MH370

Red Lentils in Marmite, with Kale, Mushroom and a final dash of Chilli Pepper
Red Lentils in Vegetable Stew with a touch of Garam Masala and Basil
Both dishes feature a fusion of ingredients from various cultures.
I tend to not classify the origins of my ingredients used, each time I am in the kitchen. I follow my instincts, armed with a strong stomach. 
Just as how I play around with ingredients (by not judging any of them), I hope that people would all work towards more unity and peace- by not judging/stereotyping/labelling those around us. 

As a volunteer, I treasure and am grateful for the opportunity to connect with so many people- individuals of different race, creed, colour, religion and circumstances, 
It is sad to see how nations are divided by political conflicts, when people, in general, I just...people.

You and I, 
We may look, speak, think or act different,
But we are all one human race, 
I hope, and still believe,
what we have for each other, 
is grace. 


Friday, July 18, 2014


What does "C" mean to you?

Cancer, if you're concerned?
Your grades, if you're a student?
The time signature, if you're a musician?
Or..."death!", if you're Hokkien (choy, touch wood!!!)

Well, this post serves up the 3 Cs I Choose to focus for the day, and perhaps, for life: Control, non-Conformity, Cherish.


Some of us may identify ourselves as control freaks. Have you experienced, sometimes things go much smoother if you allow things to happen, instead of making them happen? How ironic, isn't it? The attempt of controlling things, actually feels less in control.

Often, we spend a good amount of energy planning, predicting and preventing things that we can't possibly plan, predict and prevent. We worry about the future, while clinging on to the past. Such desire for more autonomy in our lives, stems from #1. fear- we try to gain control, due to what we think would happen if we don't, and #2. attachment to a specific outcome-  an outcome we're sure is best for us, as if we always know what's best .  

So does all these means total surrender? 
No, we still regain some autonomy. Like driving, it is all about choosing when to accelerate and release. We can control our thoughts, what and who we choose to believe.
We can control how we respond and react, even  if things don't go our way.
We can control how we would like things to happen, but not how it will happen.

As we muscle through the currents in life, try considering if letting go would allow you more freedom. Try allowing the feeling of freedom guide our way.
Personally, when I choose to go in surrender mode, I find peace and clarity.Yet, I feel not a forceful, but focused energy accompanying the intention I want.
I am still a work in progress, but I shall allow it to become a habit, instead of making it one.

Breakfast: Creamy Choco Chianana Oatmeal

"If there is nothing you can do, do nothing."

"If there is something you can do, give it all you've got."


"Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal.  Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against." 
-Captain Beatty, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

If you have confidence in your own worth, you'll be better able to follow opinions that are your own and not society's. Be who you are. While staying true to our beliefs, work on growing ourselves into what we would like to be, not what we are expected to be. 
Real beauty does not lie in perfection, but in accepting and embracing imperfection
Water the flowers in your garden, but not the weeds. 
It is fine to be the Ugly Duckling, for the day shall come when we join the other swans. 

Lunch: Cheeky Cour-cado Pasta *

*(no pic)

"Ugly duckling": Spot the odd one?


"I sometimes think drivers don't know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly...White blurs are houses. Brown blurs are cows." 
"Have you ever heard of rubbing dandelions under your chin? If it rubs off that means you're in love." 
"Old leaves smell like cinnamon."
-Clarisse McClellan, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

"Cherish" crossed my mind later in the day. The weather was lovely today. I decided to walk half of my bus journey home.  I explored a neighbouring community and took home with me a half a jar of self-grinded peanut butter! How I love the smell of lavenders basking under the Sun's radiant energy. 

I am a tea lover. For dinner, my inner voice called, "Chai Chicken?" I gave it a go. I allowed my taste buds freedom, and trusted its choice. There was a "flood" of chai and turmeric, but with careful manoeuvre, wa-lah...we got what we wanted. A sprinkle of smoked paprika to soak into a Friday evening mood. 

As I sink my teeth into each piece of meat, my thoughts savour into the moments I had over the day. Even, the surprising moments of trust I gave my instincts while going through motions of the day, and trying this new idea for dinner. (I wouldn't call it recipe.)

I'm not sure if the meal looks appetising, but I was satisfied.
 Anyway, I can't control what your thoughts and perception, right?

Chai Chicken with touches of Smoked Paprika

Brown Bulgur with Sweet Carrots and my Chai

Aftermath of "flood"

"Before someone's tomorrow has been taken away, cherish those you love, appreciate them today."Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you would live forever. Merit is not something you store up for a future life, it is what you put in your heart now. 

**Notice how meal names all start with C today? It was unintentional ;)