Weekly Schmooze #4

Weekly Schmooze #4

1. Either someone’s playing tricks with my eyelids or the weather is truly, madly, incredibly hot because in the afternoon, my eyelids just seem to go flooop.

2. Discovered a new Vietnamese restaurant and we’ve been there twice this past week. Vietnamese food reminds me of lazy college weekends in Cali. That’s where I first discovered beef ball noodle soup could taste so good.

3. Someone please remind me to avoid the mall on weekends. Weekends are rudeness magnified at the mall. Somehow one thing or another would make me head out there and then I end up kicking myself!

4. After a 2 weekend break from the kitchen, our bakery was back into action. We made 2 pound cakes for Hip2bDaughter2’s recess. Just for fun, I decided to funky this one up with some strawberry puree. Actually it’s not half bad, just a little more cracked than usual but still very moist.

The fashion chasers

The fashion chasers

The weekend felt like 4 days instead of 2. I basically closed down my weekend bakery, told my neighbor sweetly that I was too busy to check out that new industrial rubber hose she wanted to rave to me about, grabbed the lovelies and we absconded to the mall. Where we unashamedly camped out for, I don’t know, maybe 2 hours, maybe a whole day, I don’t remember, it’s all a blur to me now 😆 .

Did someone ask, hey, what do all you boring city folks do for fun? Y’all cooped up in a concrete jungle, ranting about the traffic all day. Indeed! Just so happens the fashion shows are in town, y’all and that is rare bit of excitement for us!

This year, the crowds were relatively smaller, not that we’re complaining, no no no. We practically owned the front row seats. I think there was like a fashion show every hour on the hour or something like that. I don’t worry about the little details. My lovelies take care of those. I just pay for the food. Fashion chasers have such sweet fun 😉 !

Our own table and other 5-star surprises

Our own table and other 5-star surprises

While I’m known to rant quite a bit, I always give credit where credit is due. It’s just that there’s very little here that truly jumps out at me, ya know. So when something like this happens, it gets me giddy with excitement and I can’t wait to blog all about it.

In a city bursting with restaurants, there are only a handful that we frequent. We tend to avoid the ones that come highly recommended because from experience, those are usually the ones that fail our standards of food quality, hygiene, customer service and/or the Hip to be Picky Eater Index. 😉

At the handful of restaurants where we are regulars, it strikes me as really weird that their staff always act as if they’ve never seen us before. They don’t acknowledge us. They don’t remember how we like our orders. They don’t remember where we like to sit. Not only do we not get any preferential treatment – whatsoever, the service can sometimes be frustrating.

Friday lunchtime, the girls and I went to our favorite Nando’s restaurant outlet. This is the only one of all their franchise outlets that we go to simply because it’s probably the only place in town we know of where the staff are always smiling and happy to see us.

Mind you, this is not a Mom and Pop joint where friendly, personal service is a given. These guys just work there but still they would greet us loudly, sometimes in chorus, every time we walk through the door. They would nod us to “our” table with knowing smiles. Yes, we even have our own table!

Last Friday, we noticed our portions were super-sized. Our plates were heaped high, higher than usual, with our favorite grilled vegetables and peri chips, and they brought us an extra drink on the house. The girls and I usually share drinks (because we hate going to public restrooms) and these guys said, no, go ahead, have a drink on us.

When the check came, we were in for an even bigger surprise. We eat there so often we practically know how much our meal would come to. Only this time, the figure was wa-ay lower than what we normally pay. A surprise discount!

Okay, if I’ve ever doubted that good customer service exists, I take it back! This is definitely one for the record, and in case you’re wondering, the answer is no, we didn’t ask for a discount, we’re not on back-slapping terms with the staff though they always seem happy to see us, and I’m not getting paid to write this. 😀


Chicken feet in the nick of time

Chicken feet in the nick of time

So here we are. In hibernation mode and really happy about it. We didn’t budge this entire weekend except for a quick trip to grab some Thai food. Cravings are cravings. You can either do something about it quick, or you can spend all night tossing and turning with wild images of trying to outrun ’em chicken feet 😆 . No Thai meal is complete without these 3 orders.

Chicken Feet Salad – note that harmless-looking red chilly right there that’s going to send you straight through the roof but the crunch of the chicken feet is worth the pain!

Seafood Tomyam Soup in a flaming pot with tons of that same birds-eye chilli and guaranteed to set your mouth and tongue on fire!

Even the unspicy Chicken in screwpine leaves comes with a little saucer of chilly sauce.

And that was our very laid-back weekend. Nowhere to go. No inclination to go anywhere. Just hanging out at home sweet home!

Just a regular Friday afternoon

Just a regular Friday afternoon

Our weekends start on Fridays. Or at least that’s how we all plan it. Hip2bDaughter2 finishes school early on Fridays, I refuse to don’t work on Fridays and Hip2bDaughter1 takes great pains to ensure she has few, or no classes at all on Fridays. Can you almost tell we are a family that lives for the weekends?

As you might’ve guessed from the numerous sushi pictures I’ve posted on this blog, we’re really big on Japanese food. Many a Friday afternoon see us hanging out over sushi rolls…

… and bentos.

Midway through lunch, we heard deafening claps of thunder and knew there must be a major storm happening outside. Thankfully my bookworms stumbled upon a small book sale at the center court and I found an air-conditioning vent that was blasting out the most wonderfully cold air.

Obviously our kind of mall. How could I resist parking myself right in front of an air-con vent to flip through some books at leisure?!

Storms can be a good thing. We spent a good half hour hanging out. Most of the books were somewhat old but still, Hip2bDaughter1 ended up with 2 books and high hopes of finding another book sale to spend her pocket money on.

So that’s a regular Friday for us. It’s a much-needed break from staring at the computer screen and “just one more vlc free download before we go, Mom”.

Bread story

Bread story

Like I always say, my kids are my biggest inspiration when it comes to cooking and baking. Okay, let me back it up a little here. I was never a kitchen person. Growing up, I rarely ever ventured beyond the kitchen door. But when I had kids, it all changed. I found myself trying to cook or bake whatever they liked to eat.

I’ve never had any cooking or baking lessons, never felt inclined to spend the money. Just trial and error, and winging it most of the time. When my kids in their pre-teen years went berserk over sausage rolls, we spent a small fortune going to that bakery near our house to feed our bread frenzy.

My cinnamon rolls

Bread making was uncharted territory for me. I didn’t even think I wanted to try it after seeing how the bread my aunt used to make could knock a person’s brains clear out of their heads if they ever got hit by one of her rolls. Bread making sounded deadly!!

My apple cinnamon braid

If my aunt, the so-called “celebrity chef of the family”, couldn’t do it, what were the chances that my bread would even be edible? Then again, it’s not as if parenting is without its risks, right? So I ventured to make my first batch of sausage rolls. Worst case scenario, I would build myself a nice little rock garden with my rolls 😆 .

Our daily bread

Making bread takes patience and calm. No electronic breadmakers for me. My unlovely SIL gave us a loaf to show off what her new breadmaker could do. Oh sure, leave the loaf overnight and tomorrow you could stone someone to death with it. My kids hated the rock-hard bread. So that was it, forget the breadmaker!

Let’s get down and dirty. Work up some elbow grease. I dare say bread tastes better with that secret ingredient – Mom’s perspiration.

My bread rolls, so soft and yummy

What is one food that you love to eat and learnt to cook, or wish you could cook?

Eating healthier, and we try

Eating healthier, and we try

We’ve been trying to eat healthier. Little by little. Whenever we can manage it. I won’t pretend it’s easy because a busy lifestyle like ours isn’t exactly cut out for that. With the convenience of eating out comes high sodium, high sugar, high fat and not so ideal methods of food preparation. But we’re trying and we’ve been pretty good with it so far.

We had Japanese (again!) last weekend and I ordered this scrumptious salmon doused in lemon juice and smothered with wasabi. Just ignore me, I’m raving about wasabi again 😆 .

Our home bakery comes alive every weekend. Me and the girls are in there with sleeves rolled up, hair tied back and elbow-deep in bread dough, kneading and rolling. No bread maker. It’s back to basics, the old-fashioned way. If our high metabolic rates won’t allow us to go without carbs, we’ll just have to pile on the wheat, nuts and fruit.

We are recent converts to oatmeal. We (yes, me included) have always balked at the word. But since we chomped down like 100 granola bars in the space of our 1-month winter vacation in Cali last year, I figured that was a darned good start right there. Now I make my own granola bars, so I can control the sugar.

My two salad haters are now salad lovers. So more greens it is. If time permits, I even make my own dressing.

There’s a ton of new (to us) foods that we’ve recently added to our list, like pumpkins and pomegranates. Are you trying to eat healthier? What changes are you making to your diet? What new foods are you trying?

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