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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Grumpy Baker

Best macarons in Paris.

Delightful pastries that burnt a hole in my pocket.

The Grumpy Baker makes brownies that are God's gift to Singaporeans. My kids are brownie snobs and they practically inhale these brownies and then gasp for more. I feel like I have found an exclusive treasure trove of baked goodies lodged in an HDB flat inside a neighbourhood with a problematic reputation - Yishun.

When I serve these brownies on a chi-chi platter to guests, people ask which hotel or which high class bakery I bought it from. So, I will let you in on a secret. I bought them from a guy who bakes world class pastries out of his little 2 bedroom HDB flat.

I buy them at a fraction of the price it costs to get them from the big name shops, and I get better tasting pastries too. What is not to like? The ONLY reason why this guy does not have a pastry shop that sells his creations at world class prices, is that he does not have the initial capital to set up shop. Rentals are high in Singapore and business set up costs even higher.

I cannot eat his brownies because they are not gluten free. I did eat his macarons. Mind you. I have eaten the best macarons in Paris from Gérard Mulot (at 4 Euros per piece). I have even eaten those from Ladurée in Takashimaya (at $30 for 8 pieces).  Macarons tend to be too sweet. I liked neither of Paris' best macarons. The Grumpy Baker makes better macarons, using fresh roselle fruits.The Grumpy Baker's roselle macarons (with chocolate ganache filling) offset the cloying sweetness of a classic macaron with roselle's tartness. He only charges $30 per 25 pieces.

Go browse his creations HERE. You need to do your own pick up. The grumpy fella does not deliver. Remember to be nice to him. He is called grumpy baker for a reason. This said, once you get past the thorns, inside... the man is pure unadulterated durian of the best quality.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Green Cincau Dessert (from garden to table)

I am so used to making jelly from packets of jelly powder that when someone told me that I could blend the leaves of the cincau hijau plant (premna oblongifolia) to get jelly that could be assembled into a coconut dessert, I was intrigued.

I followed the recipe below and sure enough, I had concocted a refreshing dessert. It is apparently protective against colo-rectal cancer too. See HERE.

Green cincau recipe:
70g cincau leaves, washed
500ml water + 500ml water

(1) Blend leaves with 500ml water.
(2) Quickly strain liquid into shallow 1L tray.
(3) Return pulp to blender and blend with fresh 500ml water. Strain into jelly mixture.
(4) Skim bubbles for a smooth surface. Chill till set.
(5) Serve with gula melaka and coconut milk.
(6) Top with fresh telosma cordata flowers.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Marsiling Market

We spent 14 happy years in Marsiling. People used to make fun of me for staying in Marsiling. One person told me rather loftily that he would never move to Marsiling because the crime rate there was too high. Another person asked in all seriousness, "Given your husband's job and position, does his employer allow him to live in Marsiling?" In all seriousness too, it did not seem to me that my husband was a very important man at all, so that question was perplexing. The Husband and I were both mid level managers, like millions of others in the country. 

The person's remark sort of gave me the impression that only the lowest of the low should be staying in Marsiling.

Thank God I am immune to social disapproval and oblivious of social norms. I shrugged it off and told myself, "Those who care about where we stay, don't matter to us. Those who matter, don't care about where we stay." As a result, we spent so many happy years in our Marsiling flat. You can see photos of it HERE.

I went back to Marsiling today to eat the world's best appam, and took the opportunity to relish memories. 

This grass field used to be a bus interchange.

This roti prata stall has been there for more than 25 years.

Our daughter used to go in here and pick her own buns.

See the old style biscuit bins?

This place has been on Fire Sale or Closing Down Sale every day of the year for more than 25 years.

The unlikely duo: Underwear and TCM herbs.

The world's best appam at Marsiling Market.

I like my appam with curry, not coconut sugar. The appam is an Indian crêpe made of rice flour and coconut milk. It has crispy edges and a soft, fluffy middle. It is normally eaten with coconut sugar but I like to dip mine in curry.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Free Zumba Class

I have a face that hawkers don't like. I queue up to order food. They take ONE look at my face and yell at me. It usually takes me a few months to break a new hawker in. It takes courage. It takes persistence. I have to resolutely queue up and resolutely speak politely despite getting yelled at and resolutely smile. I do it because some hawkers make divine food.

If you make divine food, you can yell at me.

After a while, they warm up to me and then I get extra portions. I guess that makes all the yelling worth it. Haha!

Anyway, the kopi soh at Chong Pang hawker centre finally warmed up to me. Thanks to her, I got involved in a free Zumba class held at the basketball court next to Chong Pang Market. It was very fun! And it is FREE!

The zumba classes I had paid for were complex and hard to follow. This one was simple. The trainer had simple moves which she repeated often. This was the first zumba class where I did not feel self conscious and clumsy. 

It was soooooooo fun!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Garden Update

The garden is growing. I have started to grow edible flowers now.

Sweet potato leaves.

Purslane: a sweet and sourish vegetable that looks stunning in salads.

Amaranth leaves.

More purslane.

Cotton. I don't eat this.

Blue pea flower.

Gotu kola.



Bok choy.

Sissoo spinach.

Thai watercress.

Anredera cordifolia (or teng tienchi).

Sweet basil.

Telosma cordata flowers. These are sweet and crunchy. There is nectar inside.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

3 Girls and 2 Boys

We managed to sex the chickens. The girls' wings have a double row of feathers top and bottom. The boy chicks have a single row of feathers only.

I tried to sell the boys but no one seems to want the males.

I can understand why. They crow and they don't lay eggs. 

These are girl chicks' wings.

These are boy chick wings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Claypot Chicken

Our housekeeper, with decades of experience in chickens assures me that Max has a odd habit. He likes to lie on his back inside my claypot, and bury himself legs up in the warm soil, and bask in the sun.

We let Max out for 2 to 3 hours in the mornings. When we come back to cage him, he is invariably lounging feet up in the claypot.