Oct 30, 2010

Sing a Song of Six Pence

That old nursery rhyme :

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?

In this case, my king at home wants an unusual dish for dinner this week. I was watching House on Channel 5 2 nights ago and suddenly he came and say this to me :

"Shall we have CCF with Curry Chicken?" (CCF stands for Chee Cheong Fun, a kind of flat noodles rolled up like a swiss roll. Its made of rice flour, water and salt..delicate to make but very delicious to eat..!)

I said :

"I am trying to watch House..what kind of weird dish is that?"

and then he said :

"Well, something different for a change. I am sick of eating the same old dish every week. I want some variety. I just thought of this. Its just cut up the CCF and pour the piping hot curry chicken over it. Like that!"

To him, everything I cook its simple enough or "like that!".

So yesterday, he shop for all the ingredients needed for his unusual dish. Here's my simple and anyhow do dish. Hope you like it too..

note : There are only 5 persons at home. I always have to assume my King is x2.

Curry Chicken with Chee Cheong Fun
Serves 6 persons

1 whole chicken, about 1.8 kg
1 can of Evaporated milk(I use Carnation's Full Cream)
500ml water
500ml Coconut cream
4 medium red onions
6 local ripe red tomatoes
8 local potatoes, skinned, cut into quarters.
1 tbsp salt

Curry Paste ingredients
10 pcs dried chilli(soften in water)
5 pcs chilli padi
3 small red onions
1 clove garlic
50g dried shrimps
1 pc Lemon grass
1 tsp belachan(previously roasted, pounded into powder)
2 tbsp Curry powder

100ml corn oil

1. Wash and cut up chicken into smaller pieces.
2. Heat up wok with 50ml corn oil , add onions to saute till soft
3. Add cooked paste to fry for a while.
4. Add chicken parts to fry over high heat for 5 mins.
5. Lower heat to simmer for 5 mins.

6. In the meantime, heat up a large casserole or pot with water. Once it starts boiling, add potatoes, tomatoes.
7. Turn off wok heat, pour contents into soup pot.
8. When it starts boiling again, add milk and coconut milk, lower heat to simmer till potatoes are cooked. About 15 mins over low heat. Add salt to taste.
9. Turn off heat, serve over steamed CCF or rice or roti prata.

Method to Cook the paste:
1. Blend paste ingredients except oil in a blender till smooth.
2. Heat up oil in wok and add paste to fry till fragrant and it should turn slightly darker orangey red.
3. Set aside for later use.

Notes about CCF
The King bought it from a market somehow..have no idea. Costs S$2 for pack of 10 strips..enough for 2 persons. So he bought 2 packets.

To serve, just steamed the CCF over rapid water for 10 mins or until soft.

Oct 21, 2010

A Summer Place

Sung by Cliff Richard..also the theme song for a hollywood movie under the same title. : A Summer Place.

When I was a teen, I was always wanting to know about true love and wanted to see if such romances really do exists. I remember asking my dad about it. And because he spoke English, he would tell me in a mix of English and Hokkien about his one true love and how he won her heart.

My dad said my mom was his first true love. He met her when he was working as a relief teacher at the Yock Eng High School(Chinese school at Tanjong Katong Road). The form teacher was away and the school was looking for a relief teacher to teach for a period of time. My dad said he was teaching English back then in her class.

After a few lessons, he had started to notice her. Then she stopped coming for classes. He ask the other students about her and they told him that she has dropped out of school permanently. Due to poor family backgrounds.

My dad said he found out where she stayed and visited her in her kampong..some where near Kim Chuan Road/Tai Seng Road area. And would ask her to return to school to continue her education. My mom quit school when she was in Secondary 3 so that her younger siblings had a chance for school and education which promised them a better life and future.

My mom has always been an inspiration to me and to all her siblings(my uncles, aunties). My dad thought that it was such a noble act to give up education for her siblings. He said he would visit her and gave her tuition if she wanted to learn but couldn't afford it.

Of course on the pretext of learning...but my dad used this 'excuse' to get to know her better.

The rest of the story..well, my dad never did tell me how he woo her..but one thing is for sure, its being PERSISTENT and stick to it.

Here's a picture of them together ... in the old days of Black n White.

And when they marry..

and then there were Three..my sister Winnie was born. The old usual way was a family portrait..

A few more years down the road, I was born. But because I was a sickly baby, my mom wanted to wait till I was rosy-cheeked and healthy enough for a family portrait..so here it is..

The threads of time passes by... I was 12 years old, my sister was 18 going on 19 years...

And then that Summer Place repeats for me and my sister...now with our families together celebrating my dad's 70th birthday some 8 years ago...

My parents are in their autumn years..my dad's already 78 years old and my mom is 74 years old. In the recent years, my mom's health deteriorated so my dad quit his full time job as a English/Chinese translator with the Church of Singapore to spend all his time with her and take care of her. He wanted to learn to cook recently...because my mom is a perfectionist when it comes to food for the family. So that he could whip up a meal for her.

My dad is a quiet man. He hardly spoke unless he was spoken to. If he had to teach, then he would speak. Most of the times, he won't hear him say much. He is a wonderful father to us and a loving grand dad to our girls and to my niece. He would tell them stories..the same ones he would told me when I was a kid.

He would watch Bugs Bunny or Yosemite Sam or the occasional Tom and Jerry or Road Runner with them. When we went to Disneyland USA in 1996, my parents went with us. My dad joined in all the rides and was a part of every fun ride we took.

When I met Benny, I told him that my ideal man is someone like my dad. Someone who loved his wife, his kids and the family. Someone who grew up with his children and be a part of their lives. And God answered my prayer..Benny was someone like dad. Benny wished I was like my mom because she could tend to the family needs very well. I don't think I could measure up to my mom..but my aunts told me in some ways, I am doing the things my mom use to do when she was abled and healthier.

My parents now lived with my sister and my brother in law and my niece too. They sold their HDB apartments some 24 years ago and bought a house with shared income. Over the years my sister bought their share and gave them money to keep. All these years, my sister and my brother in law took it in them to care and provide for them.

Benny and I shared in their provision with my sister and my brother in law. In everything we do, we do it for them : our parents.
Our family are very close and knitted tightly like a woven cloth. And the same values are taught through our kids and we can only hope they continue to be like this for a long time to come.

Yesterday I spent a day with my girls..downtown Singapore shopping, eating and just walking around. But I stood from afar, observing my girls..and I saw a reflection of me and my sister when we are their age..sharing and caring and loving each other.

It left me deeply satisfied and encouraged as my girls tell me in time to come when I am as old as Po-Po(their granny, my mom), they would spend all their days taking care of me.

Dear God, thank you..! For every little thing you have done for me. And many more in the future that I cannot know or see. But I know in my heart, You have already provided them for me.


Oct 18, 2010

Chilli in my Rojak Part 8

We Are Family (song) sung by Sisters Sledge

Recently my cousin Connie sms me asking if I could bake the Rose Petals Chiffon Cake for her tea party at home. Of course, I say "YES!". And I told Benny about it. And he said :

"Serve friends with cake? why no food? Does she need anything? Maybe cook some food for her to serve her friends too."

I replied:

"Mei Mei knows me too well, she wouldn't want to work me too hard. She just ask for a cake. "

I call Connie as Mei Mei or younger sister. I have been calling her Mei Mei since her birth. We grew up together. I spent all my school holidays with her and her brother, Mun Pun.

And since we are having Hainanese Chicken soup and all the side dishes, Benny decided to get 2 very plump chickens to make sure we have enough for Mei Mei too.

But I did a little more for her. I baked 3 cakes for her little tea party. And served her 2 portions of Chicken rice, soup, nonya Achar, chilli sauce. Why 2 portions of rice? Well, I wanted to settle her with lunch and dinner so she doesn't need to go out after serving her friends and cleaning up her place.

She came at 11:30am to pick up 1 cake but went home with these...

I baked a Blueberry Yogurt Creme Cake, no pictures, too rush to take one.

This was for her tea party last Saturday, 16 October 2010.
Earl Grey Tea Chiffon Cake.

Rose Petals Chiffon Cake. The burnt spots on top was actually the rose petals..

Chicken Rice Set with Achar(home made)

I posted these on Facebook and she replied to me via FB. She said

"tk U GIna for the packed lunch & dinner, they really warmed my stomach & my soul ;>"

I remembered when she was looking for an apartment, she was looking around Hougang zone. Her mom, my aunt rang me to ask me for advice about the neigbhouring blocks near my place. In the midst of chatting, my aunt ask me for a favour.

"Ting, help me to watch over Mei Mei. She will be moving out to live on her own now. Uncle and I will moved in to stay with Mun Pun. "

I told Auntie

"Aunty, yes of course I will.You forgotten that you have ask me to watch over her for you since she was born some 30 odd years ago. When she was very young, I use to baby sit her and play with her. I read her stories and watch cartoons on TV with her. I help to wash her hands before meal time and put her to bed for afternoon naps. All these years, I have grown but I have never stopped loving her and caring for her. "

When Mei Mei said those words on FB..it also warmed my heart and my soul. Knowing that despite being a generation gap away, we are still very much like a big family..still caring for one another.

So let's sing the happy song by Sisters Sledge...

We are family, I got all my sisters n me..and also all your brothers, cousins, uncles, aunties and their extended family.

Oct 14, 2010

A Recipe for Love

Is there ever such a thing for a recipe for love? I once saw this poem written and printed on cards, some were made into a wooden plaque and others framed in a nice picture frame. A gift for newly wedded couples or someone you know who is celebrating their wedding anniversary.

Here's the poem:

Recipe for Love
Author, unknown.


2 Hearts Full of Love
2 Heaping Cups of Kindness
2 Armfuls of Gentleness
2 Cups of Friendship
2 Cups of Joy
2 Big Hearts Full of Forgiveness
1 Lifetime of Togetherness
2 Minds Full of Tenderness


Stir daily with Happiness, Humor and Patience.
Serve with Warmth and Compassion, Respect and Loyalty.


Well, my recipe of Love is somewhat similar. Only that it is also edible. I go to great lengths to make Benny happy. Happy to know that he is home, happy that he knew his tummy will be filled with the comfort food he loves to eat and happy to know that all he needs is just to tell me what he wants.

Last week, he wanted the buns I taught my friend Janice Yu when she came from the Philippines. He wanted a more spicy version. It was a Susie Bun with char siew pork recipe. I use the basic Susie bun recipe but tweak it and added curry powder in it. For the fillings I didn't have pork meat so I use canned luncheon meat..mashed it and fried it with onions, peas and curry spice.

This is My Recipe for Love..for him. Sharing with all, my so-called secret recipe.

Curry Spiced Buns
Recipe by Gina Choong

Ingredients :
500 g plain flour
270 ml water
1.5 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
100 g castor sugar
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp curry powder(I use Baba's brand for Meat Curry)

30g melted butter(salted), for brushing /glazing

Method :
1. Mix sifted curry powder, flour, yeast, salt, castor sugar into the Mixer bowl(kitchenAid)
2. Turn the dial to no. 1 and slowly pour in the water.
3. Let the mixer knead the dough for 30 mins.
4. Add melted butter and knead for another 5 mins till evenly mixed.
5. Stop the mixer. Remove the dough and place in a greased bowl.
6. Cover with a wet cloth and place in a warm place to let it double in size.(about 60 mins or 1 hour).
7. Shape dough into 50 g balls. Flatten each dough ball and add 1 tbsp of curry meat.
8. Cover and seal the dough. Place on a grease loaf pan.
9. Brush with melted butter. Let it proof again for another 10 mins.
10. Bake in preheated oven 180C for 20 mins.
11. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Curry Luncheon meat
Recipe By Gina Choong


1 can Pork Luncheon meat(removed from the can), mashed it with a fork
2 medium red onions, peel and chopped
1 tbsp cooking oil
1.5 tbsp curry powder
100g frozen mixed veggie
1 tsp sugar

1. Heat up the wok with oil and add onions to fry till soft.
2. Add mixed veggie, curry powder and fry over high heat.
3. Add mashed meat, sugar and stir fry quickly to mix evenly.
4. Remove to cool completely.

I made extras like 25 buns. My students who came for the Chiffon cake I had last week had a sampling of the buns. And I gave them one each to bring home to share with their loved ones.


Oct 13, 2010

Waiting 'round the bend

I use to write often as a child. Short stories here and there. Then as I grew older, I didn't have time to write so I drew on paper with a 2B pencil. Scribbles, doodles all the time. I never kept them. Now I have to re-write them again. Hopefully, in my blog, it stays archived too. So I won't lose it again.

Many who read my blog commented that I wrote very well. That credits my dad. Who was a great influence to me when it comes to reading books, both fiction and non-fiction. He also decides what I should watch. As a child, my dad use to love to go the cinemas to catch a movie during the school holidays. Since he was also an English teacher in a school in Singapore, school holidays meant he didn't have to go to work.

When I was in Primary school, all my peers read Enid Blyton's fairy tales or the Children's classic stories like Goldilocks or Cinderalla. I didn't. My dad decided what I should read and check on me to make sure I read them. He would test me with questions about the characters in the story and see if I knew or just pretended to read the book.

My dad listens to the radio but only tune in to BBC or British Broadcasting Channel. For years, in his car as he drove...we only get to hear BBC and that British accent. My dad thinks its the best English with all the right pronounication. He was quick to correct me all the time when I spoke and pronounced words wrongly.

I remembered when I was in P6(12 years old), my dad bought a condensed version of Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the sea". A child's version for me to read. And he said :

"Ting, read this book. No skipping between the lines and tell me what you think of the Old Man. I also need you to tell me why this story is unique as compared to all the others you have read"

Good grief! I can't read a book like most kids can. My dad never allows me to read a book with a lollipop stuck between my gums. Or popping in biscuits. He said when your mind is pre-occupied with munching, chewing something, you will be distracted and cannot fully comprehend the story.

If you have read this book, you will know what I mean here:

Its the worst book I have ever read in my life. Its the most BORING book I have come across. As a child of 12 years of age, I have no idea why my dad would want me to read such a boring book. I can't think of anything to tell my dad about the book or the characters in the story.

But there were lessons to be learn..from this old Boring Classic. Something that most people won't think of. My dad said :

"Yes, its boring. Its boring because there seems to be no plot or hero to be mentioned or talked about. The story is about an old man who went fishing in the big wide ocean. He managed to catch a very big fish...a Marlin(a fish with long sword like horn on the tip of its nose) in his little row-boat. And the story is just about him, and the sea and the fish and the after math when he rowed back to shore.."

And he continued to say :

"Why is it important to read this book? What is so great about it? Its the background of the story..look at it this way, there is no big plot, there is actually no big story or excitement at the end of it. What I wanted you to read was the way it was written. About the way he describe his journey, his 'adventure' on sea, how he explain the loniliness, the sea, the weather, and later the excitement when he caught the fish.

This book is all about illustrations..in the literal form. The next thing to do now is to watch the movie. Do you know that it is often difficult to act out an emotion written ?"

It was through this simple boring book that sparks off my ever lasting journey of what I often call as "Reading a Movie". Means you read the book, then watch the movie. If you manage to watch the movie before you read the book, you will not appreciate the book and the way the author is trying so hard to write his/her thoughts.

I chose Moon River as my song for this post because its one of the movies I use to watch with my dad. Brings back many many wonderful memories of my childhood days. "Moon River" is a song composed by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini (music). And was use in the movie which I think everyone knew "Breakfast at Tiffany's" . The title of my post is one of the lyrics(lines) in the Moon River song..

You know..if you have been following my stories here at my blog, you would have read about my ex boss, Ms Su-Chzeng. When she interviewed me for the job, one of the things she ask me was "what kind of books I read when I was a kid". This was my list to her:

The Old Man and the Sea
The Time Machine
The Pearl
Black Beauty
Frankenstein's Monster

And I also told her my dad use to make me read poetry by William Woodworth. Su Chzeng used to think that no kid would read the above books..and if she ever found someone who reads that, that person must be one to work with her. Because Su Chzeng use to teach English Literature at Oxford University in London before she quit and worked as Editor for literacy works and book publishers.

Now that PSLE exams are over, Melody tells me her grandfather, (my dad) is bringing her out on a shopping spree...to buy story books to read.

That's my dad..and that is one of the many reasons why I loved him and respected him. He teaches us and brings out the best in us.

Oct 12, 2010

I Feel Pretty

Recently I became extremely upset with someone. Which I will not relate in public like in a blog. When we were kids in school, we were taught to sing this happy song : "When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!"

So when you are unhappy, what song do you sing? And what song makes you feel happy. I find the only song that makes me happy is this one from the movie "Anger Management" where Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler sang "I Feel Pretty". Its funny to watch as the two men acted out the scenes and makes a lighter tone to the hilarious movie.

Here's the real song version by the late Natalie Wood in the original movie "The West Side Story"

So when I am really really upset or angry with someone or something, I would play this song by Adam Sandler...


Oct 8, 2010

Endless Love

(Note: The movie wasn't censored. Some nude scenes..!)

Endless Love was a love story movie made in the year 1981. I was still in Pre U back then. I remembered watching it at the cinema with a few friends. It made me cry at the movies. Because of the ending. I use to be so crazy about the theme song, also called Endless Love sung by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross. I would listen to it all the time. Before iPod or iPhones became popular, there was the Sony Walkman (cassette in a mini player). That costs me a good S$50.00. Back then $50 was like now $100 or more..

2 years later, in 1983, I met Sidney. I used to think he was my 'Endless Love'. But he was never meant to be. It was Benny that became my Endless Love. Next month, Benny and I will celebrate our 22 years of marriage and 24 years of knowing each other. Its been a tremendous journey. Natasha is in her first year in University and she's studying psychology. Melody is in Primary 6 this year. While many says we are enjoying the fruits of our labour, our kids have grown, I still think we need to struggle another decade more to see through Melody finishing school once and for all.

Each day as he drives me home from work, we talked fondly of our many yesterdays, of wonderful memories of being in love and watching our girls come into our lives. And watching them grow and being who they are now.

Sometimes our conversations turn a bit teary eyed as we talk about our friends or the people we met along the way. The ones who have loved and lost. The poor and the forsaken. And how much we can do for them if we had tried.

Though we never spoke of one subject again, we are often reminded of it. That one subject or topic was "Till Death Do Us Part". He will talk about anything under the sun but never about either one of us being left behind should one leaves this world sooner. He used to tell me, when that day comes, we will see what happens. And every year, while we spent all our time making sure the family is fed, kids go to school, we find time..whatever time we have to show each other how much we loved each other. In things we do for each other..

Tomorrow, Willie will take half a day off so he could work full day this Sunday. It was intended that I was to work with Natasha at the shop tomorrow. But Benny says to me yesterday, while on the road, driving home:

"Have Natasha stayed at the shop. I will go there at 7pm to close the shop. You stayed home and rest. You have not been resting for over 3 weeks now. And you can do your own things and not have anyone bother you "

"My own Thing" to him means to have time for myself..its me-time. To go for a haircut or to go shopping for a pair of new shoes or some clothes perhaps.

This is why Benny is my Endless Love. If I stopped loving him, the whole universe will disappear and the stars will stop burning. And with each day, I find no excuses not to love someone who cares for me in more ways than I can ever need.

May you find your one true "Endless Love"

God Bless you...

Oct 3, 2010

Take my hand...

Yesterday Singapore mourns the passing of a leader's better half, his left and right person, his confidante, his beloved. Our Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo. Although I never knew her in person, or saw her in public. But I knew her through the media and the way Mr Lee fondly talks about her.

As I watched the News on TV Channel 5, I cried when the news reporter talked about her life with MM Lee Kuan Yew. Her passing meant MM Lee a great loss for it seems like their union was made in Heaven and his life and the way he shaped our country was all with a woman who stood by him through thick and thin. She was there for him in the early days in his political status in Singapore and was there for him when their children came into their lives. She was there with him in all his public appearences, in every way, she tried to mingle with his 'social' crowd.

She is a mentor to many of us : Women who are married to our better halves who lead a hectic work schedules and have to cope with home and family and tend the fort. My mom cried when she heard her passing yesterday. She said she kept watchful eyes and ears to read and hear about her overall health over the years. And was saddened to know she has passed on. We all wished that she left without physical pain and wished MM Lee Kuan Yew and PM Lee Hsien Loong and their extended family our deepest condolences and may God bless them as they lay the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo to rest.

This hymn sang by Jim Nabors is appropriate for this post.
Words & music by Thomas A. Dorsey

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

May God bless you and keep you..Madam Kwa, until we meet again on the peaceful shores.