Tag Archives: musings

Cookbook mania

14 Jun

31 hours since my last sleep, my body crashed and I wake 14 hours later, half of the Queen’s birthday already gone. Yes, I still hear the voice in my head go, “What Queen?! There’s no Queen in Australia!”, and contrary to what my friend told me, that it is the celebration of the current Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday, it is NOT. It’s just a day recognised as a public holiday in all Australian states except Western Australia. Don’t ask me why, read it here. In any case. PUBLIC HOLIDAY.

The first thing I remember thinking when I woke, besides the guilt of sleeping in and not having woken up to a morning call as my phone lay buried in my bag on silent mode, was PANCAKES.

Unfortunately, there were no pancakes. Sorry to disappoint. -pats own shoulder-

I did, however, decide to get out for a breath of ‘fresh’ air (I live in the city.) and some eggs. I pondered and decided against a deceivingly quick (I know it won’t be) expedition to a nearby cookware store, practicing self-restraint in the name of ‘Getting data analysis done’ and… walked into Kinokuniya.

I have a thing with bookstores. Since I learnt how to read, and as a young, once-skinny, child, I would read everywhere and anywhere, very often to my own detriment (Sprained ankle reading while walking down stairs), or to others’ annoyance (During mealtimes). Libraries and I never shared the same affinity, probably due to the lack of selection and because I had to return them. I wasn’t allowed to buy books simply because I would read the Parents broke and I think they caught on to that. I therefore rented books. Still. Bookstores had the selection and newest books, and sometimes you’d pick up a hardback that has not been molested previously by similar intrigue, the sound of the spine conceding, the smell of paper and print hits you, the glossy pictures (Nowadays of food more than anything).. I digress.

Such is the habit that I naturally walk into any bookstore, finding myself in one before I have actually decided to walk in. I have practiced restraint over the years, and I have learnt to do some shopping as opposed to sitting alone in a huge bookstore for hours before I was collected at the end of a shopping day, but you know, people slip up. And over the years, I no longer found myself in the ‘Fiction’ section, but in the ‘Cookery’ section.

I have a fair collection of cookbooks, magazines, food-related books, and other food-related publications. No, I have not cooked everything in those cookbooks and magazines, and I admit I have not pored through every single page and word. It is without a doubt that my passion for food and cooking is the basis for my obsession with food literature, but the books I choose are not just useful references and a wealth of ideas, but actually a reflection of how I relate to food, or would like to, how ever you might like to view it. How I wish to eat or cook, how I was brought up with food in my life, how I would like to be involved with food for the rest of my life.

At this juncture, I’m sure I would be questioned by the Family as to how this ‘thing’ with food came about, seeing as how I was a picky eater for the first, greater part of my life, and I never really took part in any discourse about food with the Family, or took an interest in the family business when we ventured into food. Gee. I would like to know too. But I suppose, it was always there, and for that I have to thank the Family. I never got involved as I thought that it was an area of life covered well by the rest of the Family, and I simply enjoyed the ride. But being on my own in Sydney has definitely got me involved with food on a more personal level. To this day, little things dawn upon me, and I realise I have truly come full-circle, and that you really can’t deny what you have been brought up with.

The cookbooks are not just books filled with recipes to cook everything in them. I am, and have been, truly fighting with every ounce of my being to avoid being corny and cheesy and gushy, but.. I find them inspiring, alright? Food articles about food issues educate and makes me feel defensive from time to time; Recipes guide and inspire me; and the authors’ stories not only amuse me, but also allow me into a world I either relate to, or aspire towards. It’s all a bunch of mushy greasiness here, so feel free to throw up in your mouths, but that’s it, that’s my spiel on food – That’s my defence on my cookbook mania and similar. So cast your verdict, but I am not changing my stand.

Of course I don’t mean to buy everything that is out there, that is, in no means, realistic thinking at all (Though one can DREAM to own the entire food literature section, right?), but some girls buy Louis Vuitton bags, Bottega wallets, and Jimmy Choo pumps – I buy food-related books. So I will continue to let my legs take me into them bookstores, and get inconveniently sidetracked for longer periods of time than ideal (Sorry, TheEvilTwin, but you were in MY neighbourhood and you followed.). And perhaps, guiltily, but delightfully, I will eventually leave that bookstore, with a shiny, beautiful new purchase.BLISS.

*Note: I practiced self-restraint, and I walked out of Kinokuniya today without a single purchase, albeit a lot later than I had planned… And I got my eggs.

Childhood food memories: MasterChef 2010

6 May

I was catching up with MasterChef a few days back and I just can’t seem to stop thinking about the challenge that Alvin won – the Childhood Memory challenge (click to watch on the official website).

The challenge was for the contestants to recreate their fondest childhood food memories. To put their heart and emotions on a plate. To tell a story through wonderfully cooked food. After all, as Matt Preston puts it, “Memory, is the most powerful of our senses.”

Alvin, a Malaysian, won the challenge, and while I have no idea what the dish really tastes like that had the judges up in a spin, I do believe they are flavours I can fully identify with. And it led me to think, well, if it were me, what childhood food memory would I recreate?

This thought has flitted through my mind over the past few days, and I still don’t know. My mom is an excellent cook, in my opinion, it’s my mom, after all! But to pick a dish, and make it MasterChef worthy? Geez. I know there are things that drive me crazy and I’ll just gorge myself unnecessarily the moment she cooks it up for me (though it seems like pretty much.. EVERYTHING she cooks..) but to present it all pretty and attractive.. Hm. Birthday mee sua? Chicken rice..?

But I agree with Matt Preston. The power of memory when eating, makes a hell lot of a difference. It’s the reason why we still think moms/grandmas are always the best cooks, no matter what, it’s why we miss home when we are away, it’s what brings people together. When you’re hungry, and you fill that empty stomach, you inevitably feel that satisfaction and happiness. When food, cooked with love and care, it not only fills the belly, but warms the heart. Good food with a story, a history, a heart. Such food brings you back to your personal memories, and stir you from within. To be able to cook food like that, would take a great deal of heart and passion.

And I hope that if I do cook, that I will be able to convey that same heart and emotion to those who eat my food.

That said, what would YOU cook to recreate that childhood food memory?

*You can watch Alvin cook the dish as a recipe video from the same website. Note: Only people accessing the site from Australia can watch full episodes.

Happy 2010!

2 Jan

The new year has come. 2010. The year I have been dreading/looking forward to in the past 3 years. My last year of uni. The year I shall attempt to finish my Honours thesis (though why I decided to do it still baffles me at times). The year I start in a completely different place as I was at the start of 2009.

Looking back on 2009, it was a big year. I am sure it was for a lot of people too. It was a big year for Singapore, because everytime I am back here, even during the brief months I was away, I reel from how much has changed; how the view from the Esplanade, the Singapore skyline, is steadily changing in front of my eyes, how many things have come into existence and I have had yet the chance to even see it, and how so much has started, ended, or simply changed over this year.

2009 has been filled with the blessings of good food, good times. My family finally started the restaurant we have talked about for years, went on new eating adventures, met new people who shared my passion for food; making it, eating it. It was a blessing and a joy, to enjoy good food, with good company. 2009 was filled with these blessings, and may 2010 be the same, for everyone. So, as my tummy digests the yummy scone topped with sinful butter and jam I have just devoured, I bid 2009 farewell.

Happy New Year, everyone. Make beautiful memories, eat good food, be always thankful, and do your best. Happy 2010. :]

Strange mealtimes

17 Dec

The bad thing about being part of a family that runs a restaurant, is the mealtimes.

There is the option of eating early, but having so much to do, we don’t usually get a chance to. Eating during breaktime means having lunch around 3 or 4, dinner about 10-11. It seems that the time I have lunch back home here in Singapore, is about the time I have dinner back in Sydney.

This can’t be healthy.

On the other hand, being part of the foodie family means good yummy food. AND yay today there was no supper, but Mom’s Ee-Fu Noodles. So simple but oh so good. Everyone claimed they were full, having eaten dinner before dinner service, but when prompted and offered a second plate of noodles, they eventually got up and helped themselves to more.

And on a random note (something to do with what happened in the restaurant today), yes sir, coming twice in a single day, you really can’t get more enthusiastic than that.. KEEP IT UP!! :P

Itchy hands

8 Dec

I’m feeling the need to cook. To bake. But I’m kinda stuck on what I should make, really. In the past semester, and more so in the past few weeks, I have been baking a lot. I bake at home too, but different stuff. I am more limited here because the desserts and snacks I make have to be transportable – so mainly cookies, brownies, muffins. AND. I don’t have my lovely fireengine-red Kambrook free-standing mixer here in Sydney! :( The mixer I have here is called The Ordinary Whisk (and my mom bought me a small one too), powered by The Right Arm.

Can someone please buy me the KitchenAid standing mixer? (Photo from KitchenAid.com)

Hungry at 1.04a.m.

8 Dec

It’s 1.04am, I am still in Sydney, counting down the days till I go back home to Singapore, and I’m HUNGRY.

Thinking about it and all the good food my family have been tempting me with over the phone and promises to take me to the new places… I drool just thinking about seeing our family restaurant for the first time, all my mom’s cooking…  mmm…

Did I mention it was 1.08am? Not good.

I asked BFAM (Brother From Another Mother – named so because we have the same surname, and how we are with food), “Am I obsessed?”.

“Yes.”

He isn’t one of many words.

Anyway, spending the whole night not doing what I was meant to be doing, this shall be inaugural first post for my attempt at foodblogging. We’ll see how this goes. Fingers crossed.

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