Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The epitome of beauty and gooodness..

Baring your soul...

I love the garden so much. Only just a week ago, while I was stucked in the car workshop for hours which not even a good book would help me kill waiting time, i had a most enjoyable chat with a gentleman who was also there.

After a couple of nods and courteous exchange of weather topics and car problems, we started on the topic of gardening.

I quite remember telling him that if I didn't have a garden to go to whenever I need to, I would have died by now. Life just seems too hard without this place to dampen all the hard knocks in life and heal us. He seemed to agree with me and drifted off in his own thoughts for a while.

Just as I was leaving, he pulled out a plastic bag of this tea-like substance and gave it to me.

It is compost(from palm fibres) he had made himself. I thought that it was such a nice gesture! Anything 'home-made', 'hand-made' is always a winner for me!

I promised that gentleman I will try it for my lawn and then sit back for 2 weeks and be blown away by the result. (Okay, a bit of procrastination here.. i was busy with Christmas, remember?)

I think, maybe that's what I like about genuine gardeners.

They may not be getting rich by what they do, but this passion of gardening that comes from a true gardener's heart prompts them to tirelessly work in their garden whether one has time or not, whether in sunlight or moonlight and always having something to share.

Just to work and play with plants carries an amazing power to soothe and calm every troubled soul and refreshes every spirit.

And just looking at these pictures from my garden, makes me want to go sit by each and every plant that I have visited today and tell them- just how grateful I am, for baring their soul to me and letting me do like wise.


Monday, December 29, 2008

What's for dinner, mom?

Dinner bell rings..

1. Stir Fried chicken in dark soy sauce with Chinese rice wine in olive oil and ginger sauce. (Cooking time: ready in 10 minutes)

2. Kangkung (Water Spinach) stir fried in Thai sauce.(Cooking time: ready in 7 minutes.)

Sometimes referred to as morning glory and properly known as water convolvus, it is a leafy green with hollow stems that can be found in most Asian markets. A marvellous dish, where it shows itself off against an aromatic backdrop of pounded chillies, dried shrimp paste (belacan) and garlic.

A somewhat humble dish which often reminded me of my childhood in our old government rented elongated house tucked away just by the sea in that old sleepy town where nothing ever changes when I was growing up.

The unbelievable amount of sauces, spices, mixes of all shapes and sizes, whether bottled, dried or in paste form fills most of the spaces in my Asian pantry and in this tiny nook.
As South East Asia is home to a rich cross cultural table with every country boasting a distinctive cuisine which nonetheless shares similiarities with its neighbours, the ingredients and spices used often highlights such culinary links.
The starting point of even putting together a Southeast Asian meal would require more than a score of herbs and spices.

I was most thrilled when I found this stone mortar and pestle in the heart of the busy streets in Indonesia. It is said to be handmade from genuine stones from the mountains. When I heard that, it was, "OK, say no more. I'm taking this baby home with me."

Will forever be grateful to my mom- for always reminding me that a wife who cooks with love will forever be loved by her husband.

For storing spices and condiments.
(handmade pieces from clay)


Monday, December 22, 2008

A Handful of Over-Ripened Bananas

Came into the kitchen this morning and found some over ripened bananas in the basket. Maybe about a handful of them. We call them "Pisang Mas" (Golden Bananas) here. They're small and very sweet.

Kids under this roof will have to be disappointed because if they were in here looking for a quick hi energy snack such as heavily salted chips or sugar laced colorful tiny biscuits from a pack, well, they just won't find it.

They have to go for real food which may require a little more effort unfortunately- ham sandwiches, fruits, cheese, spaggheti, a quick sushi roll of rice and tuna, crab meat and cucumbers..

These last few over-riped bananas thrown in with some flour, eggs, butter, milk and brown sugar, walla, should make a nice quick snappy snack for them today, huh?

Banana Muffin with sprinkled Cinnamon powder

250 grams butter
210 grams brown sugar
3 large eggs
500 grams all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups of milk a pinch of salt
a tablespoon of vanilla essence
sprinkles of cinnamon powder
Hersheys chocolate chips


1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs gradually.
2. Fold in sifted flour and baking powder. Pour in milk. Mix.
3. Scoop a third full of mixture onto paper cups.
4. Add in some cut banana pieces. Scoop more batter to fill about 80% of cups. Sprinkle on some cinnamon powder and some Hersheys.
5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 200 C

Makes a wonderful snack for the boys and a nice tea time for me a bit later today. i know Ben would have loved this for tea... This used to be his favourite breakfast spot.

The kitchen smells heavenly too of delightful cinnamon and vanilla, absolutely fabulous!

i have always love Muffins. They are so easy to make and good for anytime of the day! And i like that i can also pretty much throw anything in- (oatmeal, crushed corn or rice cereals, hershey chocolate chips, small cut up chunks of granny apples, pineapples.. it's endless.)

..and they'll always taste so good and wholesome.


Friday, December 19, 2008

The joy in finding the little things.. it's breakfast!

I especially love this little egg holder son 2 had made for me. He even had his signature on it.

Isn't this just too cute?

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,' said Piglet at last, 'What's the first thing you say to yourself?"
'What's for breakfast?' said Pooh. 'What do you say, Piglet?'

'I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?' said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. 'It's the same thing,' he said.

~A. A. Milne, 'The House at Pooh Corner'


Monday, December 15, 2008

This blog is dedicated to MOM

"My mom is a never ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune."
~ Graycie Harmon

My late mom had gone to Heaven in Aug 2000 after a cardiac arrest in which she just collapsed on the bathroom floor one morning and lost consciousness. I still feel her in a big part of my daily living because she had given me so much and yet asked for so little back.

I had learnt so much from my late mom and hoped that my sister and I have (hopefully) inherited some of her wit, humour, her fun loving personality, her vigour in living, her generosity, her hospitality, her love in gardening, cooking, Chinese Opera as well as her travelling bug. She has certainly seen and been to more countries than most of us in the family put together and certainly a lot more diplomatic and enduring than me.

It is a strange feeling like she had never really left us. She is still very much a part of my daily life- when i am looking at a flower or feel the wind in my face.. even though i can no longer see or touch her, but i feel her in my blood, in my heart.

And no matter how much my failings or times i may have broken her heart, it is true what they say about " ..the heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. " ~Honoré de Balzac

author: felicia lam

Sunday, December 14, 2008

my first post

my garden

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.