Related Posts with Thumbnails

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.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Maggie Has 5 Chicks

On Saturday 3 March, 5 of Maggie's eggs hatched well. I specify "well" because 1 chick died after hatching and Maggie destroyed the last egg.

Apparently, when many other eggs have hatched and there are still remaining eggs left unhatched, the Mama Hen will deliberately break the last eggs, and then stop sitting. This allows her to focus on running after the older chicks, who are by now all over the place. I guess Maggie decided to prioritise the 5 healthy chicks she already has, over that last one which may or may not hatch. If she had insisted to incubate the last one, she might lose the other 5.

Maggie laid 11 eggs. I ate 1 egg. She ate 1 egg. She broke 1 egg. So, she finally incubated 8 eggs. 1 died after hatching. Maggie destroyed the last egg. 1 egg died in the early stages of development. I found it whilst candling the egg and seeing liquid slosh about inside the egg. I threw it away before it could explode and contaminate the whole clutch with bacteria.

We have 5 chicks now.

The chicks like to hide under Maggie's wings and peek out at the world. This reminded me of  The Son who once, from social anxiety, pulled up the back of my qipao and tried to hide under it. The Son had a favourite black skirt that reached to my ankles. He could hide under there very nicely.

3 siblings. The other 2 are under Maggie's wings.

Meanwhile, the Father is basking in the warm sun.

Maggie is teaching her babies how to eat mealworms. Notice how she picks up the mealworms and then drops them back down to show her babies how it is done. In the process, she also kills the mealworms, making it easier for the babies to feed. Normally, when there are mealworms, Maggie makes short shrift of them. It is quite touching to see the way she denies herself so that her chicks can eat.

This is what they look like when newly hatched.

These are 8 hours after hatching.

Maggie deliberately kicked this egg out of the nest and it broke.

We found this dead chick in the nest on 2 Mar.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

FriendLIER Neighbours

When I made the decision to get Max, the rooster, I was dreading my neighbours' reactions. I scared myself silly imagining that I would be the neighbourhood persona non grata. To me stunned surprise, neighbours who never ever spoke to me started to stop at my gate to chat.

All because of my rooster.

They stop by and tell me that they are kampong boys and kampong girls. It is quite odd to have these elderly folk with their mops of white hair describe themselves as boys and girls. I guess, somewhere inside all of us, we never really grow up.

My hen melted.

Sand ginger flower. I ate it.

Soursop flower bud.


Pea shoots.

Harvested pea shoots.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sun Plaza Nostalogia

Sun Plaza, next to Sembawang MRT station, put up a charming little installation that brought 1960s Singapore chinatown into the HDB heartlands. When chinatown looked like this, Sembawang was still jungle and prawn farms. 

Lots of old people are very taken by the installation. They linger to take pictures and reminisce. This is the best Chinese New Year decorative display that I have seen this year. It is interactive too. People sit on the wooden chairs and try on the slippers.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Maggie Is Brooding

A hen lays an egg every day. Sometimes, she needs 2 days to produce an egg. Maggie laid 9 eggs over a period of 14 days. Yet, all her chicks will hatch together. How does that happen? I was quite bemused by this.

A fertilised egg is a life in suspended animation. The embryo within does not begin to develop until the conditions are right. There must be the right temperature and the right humidity. Maggie laid an egg a day over 14 days and she ignored them completely. It has been a very long 14 days for me because I was not confident that my silly young hen knew how to be a mother. I saw her sit awhile on the eggs and then run off.  Whilst Max moved sedately and with dignity, Maggie rushed all over the garden like Quicksilver the X-Man, but chicken style. I felt like forcibly picking her up and making her sit still on her eggs.

"Hey! You are a mother now. Stop acting disco or boom box age! Get serious!"

Finally, after her 9th egg, Maggie turned serious. She is now brooding in earnest. I am looking forwards to at least some chicks 21 days from now. I do hope something hatches. I haven't been able to catch Max and Maggie copulating (and believe me, I have tried to look out for them copulating) so I am not even sure if the eggs are fertilised. 

I am keeping my fingers crossed.

9 eggs.

Finally, a good mother hen.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gifts From the Heart

Our helper M came home with surprises for me today. She had gone out with her cousin who had just come back from her holiday in Myanmar. M had imposed upon her cousin to bring back gifts for me. They are princely gifts in my view.

I feel so blessed because my helper likes me enough to put so much effort in giving.

Asparagus roots. It is impossible to find asparagus in Singapore. I could not even find the seeds! I looked high and low for asparagus. All I could find were the asparagus spears in the market. I buy them whenever I see them. M says these grow like weeds where she lives.

Crocodile meat. Apparently, M had noticed that I was prone to eczema when I eat certain foods. This is supposed to set me right. She looked at me anxiously and asked, "Will you eat it?" Actually, it looks very oily but yes, I will eat it because it was the combined effort of M's family who hunted, cooked and hand carried it here. How to not eat?

M explained that this was pure turmeric powder made by her own aunt without the use of pesticides nor fillers. The fragrance from this is amazing. Nothing compared to store bought. This, too, is a thoughtful gift because I take turmeric tea 5 times a week. M specially ordered this to be hand carried in too.

One of M's male cousins fished this out of the sea last night. It was then stored in the fridge and kept on ice. M brought them home and gave them to me, asking me if I liked them. Of course, I do! This is 5 dinners worth of protein.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Garden Update

Now that the glass awning is in, I can put some order in the garden again. It has suffered somewhat from the lack of sunlight and too much water during the Nov and Dec monsoon. I lost 2 pots of rosemary to the unceasing rains.

I decided to do a stock take and realise that the garden does really feed my family. I rotate the harvests from plant to plant but there is always something to eat, instead of going to the store. I have not had to buy market greens for a long time.

Chilli... we had a few plants that were infested with broad mites. I was so irritated that I gave most of them away. This one miraculously fruited without much care from me.

Thai Watercress is yumzzzz in soups.

Amaranth Leaves (aka bayam or heng chye). This makes a yummy garlic stir fry.

Brazilian Spinach is soft and tender in a garlic stir fry.

Blue Pea leaves are great in soups. Sliced very thin, the bean pods can be stir fried. The flowers can be used as natural food colouring. The flowers make a tea that nourishes the brain.

Winged Beans are good in nasi ulam. See HERE.

Roselle leaves make a deliciously tart stir fry when combined with amaranth leaves or sweet potato leaves. Roselle fruits can also be infused to make a tea that tastes like Ribena.

Anredera cordifolia make a lovely egg drop soup and when stirred into mashed potato, makes a delicious portobello mushroom stuffing.

Betel leaves make a tasty wrap of oven baked fish, or minced pork/beef.

Mint leaves for my favourite drink - Virgin Mojito.