Archive | June 2009

Banana bread

Banana bread

Ingredients
3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups plain flour

Method
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

This recipe’s been in a word file on my pc for years and years and I pulled it out last night because we’d run out of bread for breakfast. I cannot remember where it came from now, so am unable to attribute it. The smells coming from the kitchen at 11pm were heavenly. Too bad that the bread turned out a bit on the dry side. The outside was crisp, which I wasn’t sure was the right result but DH always likes the crisp top off muffins and cakes, so it suits him fine! 🙂 

I’m thinking this could have been because I used smaller bananas and had to remove some portions which had turned black from bruising. I turned off the top heat of the oven halfway, and although the original recipe called for baking it for an hour, I stopped the oven at 45 minutes because I thought the bread was going to end up a tad too brown if I left it longer. I also cheated (I always do) on the sugar. Whenever a recipe calls for 1/2 cup or 1/3 cup, I typically measure out less in the name of health. Not sure if any of these factors have anything to do with the texture of the bread turning out not soft enough!  😉

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Bottle Tree Park

Bottle Tree Park - tree

The Bottle Tree Park in Yishun is literally that – there is a single full grown bottle tree at the entrance.  I guess I expected more…I dunno, bottle trees, or at least more trees rather than man-made structures…  😉

We drove in by the Sembawang Road entrance into Lorong Chencharu, greeted by the white signs indicating the premises of the AVA Sembawang Animal Quarantine Station and AVA Sembawang Research  Station. Groovy.  So here’s where they keep all the infected animals for observation and testing…and we’re driving straight into the area?  A little further on, a tiny wooden sign indicated a right turn into Bottle Tree Park, where we then had to turn left to get in to the carpark, but not before noticing another building marked Animal Husbandry and SingHealth Experimental Medicine Centre.  The new things you find out everyday…

The park itself reminded me of a mini version of the Malaysian Mines Wonderland

Bottle Tree Park-lake view

Well, Mines Wonderland is a lot larger and has a greater variety of attractions, but the general concept was the same.  It was such a mish-mash of stuff, it really looked like a typically Chinese kiasu attempt to cover all bases possible. There’s a go-kart track (not operative), a skateboarding park (no one was using it), some fruit trees and stalls selling fruits (space rental revenue?), swan paddling (all chained up, no one operating also), a pool table, a foosball table, a seafood restaurant, a koi pond,

Bottle Tree Park-fish

prawning (didn’t really see this in action), fishing, longkang fishing (lots of kids stomping about in the wading area violently batting the water with their nets and probably traumatising the fish) and of course, plenty of people flouting the rule that only a maximum of 5 fish were allowed to be brought back in the little plastic aquariums they sold for you to put the fish you caught in.  It was such a mixed bag!  And somebody explain to me the link between the dinosaur bones exhibit and bottle trees, er I mean, bottle tree…(so that’s why it’s not called Bottle Trees Park, eh?) 😉 

Bottle Tree Park-dinosaur bones

It was a hot hot hot day, in every sense of the word.  I am not a wax princess but it was truly so scorching that we didn’t spend more than an hour at the park, and for the most of the hour I sat with DS being camera snappy-happy under the very welcome shade of an umbrella shielding a wooden bench by the lake while DH and DD found a shaded spot under the slide to indulge in some sandplay. 

Bottle Tree Park-playground

Ah well, I’m not all cynicism. The trip to Bottle Tree Park and back reminded me of Malaysia in some sense.  The piece of land on which Bottle Tree Park sits on is really spacious, 7 precious hectares in Singapore although there was very little shade around the lake area.  

Bottle Tree Park-lake

There was a lot of greenery (though not so much in the park, as on the way there and back out along Sembawang and Mandai Road) and at some point somewhere around the Thomson area, we drove through a road which was flanked on either side by two storey shophouses with all kinds of trade represented. Altogether quite the interesting weekend trip and not something you see everywhere in the usual urban Singapore landscape.  🙂

Alphabet Wall: Making..U is for Umbrella

A thoroughly messy but also thoroughly enjoyable affair, best conducted in the bathroom where the paint splatter and splotches can be showered down immediately!  😀

You will need: Various scraps of paper in different patterns and/or colours, scissors, glue, an artblock sheet, light blue paint, palette/dish, old toothbrush.

Cut out umbrella shapes from different pieces of paper. If you have different textures as well as different colours or patterns, all the merrier! Cut out enough U shapes from a solid colour paper, to match the number of umbrella shapes. [I snipped a little off the top from the left hand side of the U, just so it would look more like an umbrella handle.  How to tell the difference between these and a J if she should ask later on?  Hmm, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, heh! 😉

U is for Umbrella-materials

Let your child glue on the U’s on the artblock sheet in any fashion he/she likes, and then glue on the umbrella shapes afterward.  If you look closely at the top centre section, you’ll see a little squiggle of crayon.  DD always likes to do some crayon work on her art.  While she did that, I mixed up the paint in the dish.  When she saw the paint, crayons were off and paintbrushes became her next favourite thing. 🙂

U is for Umbrella-pretty brollies all in a row

Dip the toothbrush in the paint, and use the other end of the paintbrush to run against the toothbrush to create a splatter effect on the umbrellas.  I hadn’t yet mentioned it but DD exclaimed, “Like raindrops!”  Cool.  Achieved the effect and the lesson objective I wanted! 😎

U is for Umbrella-paint!

After that she couldn’t resist using the paintbrush to dab the paint directly on, so I let her have fun while I cleaned up.  All done! 

U is for Umbrella-completed

What matters more than grey matter

As DD finished her dinner very quickly today, I decided to reward her with an extra trip to the playground in the evening, and bring DS along too. DH was on his way home and going to meet us directly there after he’d parked his car.

As we got there, there were a couple of boys shooting their basketballs through the play area monkey bars and the balls were flying off quite violently at times and bouncing off the slide with loud thuds. I watched them for a little while to see what they would do in view of the arrival of a little 2 year old who was obviously eager to go on the slides. Nothing. So after five minutes, I politely asked one of them if they would consider playing a little further away so DD could climb the slide safely without worry of a stray basketball hitting her (or me, or DS, since I had to be around to supervise her climbing). The boy said okay and moved off, for all of five minutes, before lo and behold, his basketball really did come flying down onto the slide, bounced off just behind DD as she was going down the slide halfway, narrowly missing her and skidded off to a landing on the sand beside the slide. He mumbled a sorry only after catching the look of consternation I gave him. By coincidence, the other boy’s basketball had sailed through the air and landed on my lower back. Now to his defence, the other boy had been playing a little further off so it probably really was a true accident, and after another mumbled sorry from the second boy, both boys ambled off as DH was just arriving on the scene.

I don’t know about you but I for one, lament the lack of moral responsiveness in today’s generation of school-going children. Personally, I feel it is a tragedy when 10-12 year olds have to be told to give way to tiny toddlers. And that they cannot have so much self-discipline to last more than five minutes before they revert to their irresponsible play. And when they have committed a wrong, to be braver about facing the music than mumbling inaudible apologies to the air and sauntering off. The community centre basketball court, a much more appropriate place for them to shoot baskets, is a mere 10 minute walk away. This is a playground designed for little children, let the little children play!

Maybe I just don’t meet that many school-going children, or I am unlucky in that respect, that I always seem to encounter more of the arrogant, cocky, too-cool-for-their-duds variety who are always only too eager to display their prowess in the English vocabulary, albeit on the fouler side, and who think that that impresses all who should cross their path. Raising a generation of Harvard-headed scholars with very full brains but empty moral warehouses would seem to be the direction that many parents and the education system are headed today. Character development does not matter, only how many A stars in the PSLE to qualify for a better secondary school, and how many points to qualify for a better Junior College, and how many distinctions to get into the hot courses in the universities.

Every parent wants their child(ren) to have the best opportunities to be all they can be academically. So do I. But I draw the line when academic excellence comes with the price of moral bankruptcy. Academic excellence may get one to the financial peak fast in life…but life for all its temporal nature still runs longer than the working years, and I believe it is a character rooted in moral responsiveness that will carry one through all of life’s challenges for the longer haul.

The irresistible force meets the immovable object

Egg

Q: What is the strongest part of an egg?
A: The strongest part of an egg is the pointed end. The next strongest is the opposite end. The long rounded sides are the weakest, because they absorb the most force. The design of the egg shell makes it very strong from tip to tip. You will notice a small end and a large end on a chicken’s egg. If you try to squeeze the egg from end to end it takes a lot of force to break it but if you use just a little pressure on the sides at the center it breaks easily.

I know this from memory. I double confirmed it on WikiAnswers.com this morning. But DD will have it her own way as you will see from the conversation below 🙂

DD: [attempts to break her breakfast hard-boiled egg by tapping it on the pointy end on her tray]
Me: Sweetheart, the pointy ends of the egg are the strongest points. Try hitting in the middle. Like this. [demonstrates tapping the egg on the long rounded side and hands back the egg to DD]
DD: [takes back the egg and continues to tap the pointy end but with more force]
Me: Hit in the middle. The pointy part is harder to break. It won’t break.
DD: [now hammering the egg for all its worth on the pointy end]. *Crack!!* [With a triumphant grin, DD quips] You see?
Me: …
DH: Just like her mother…she just has to challenge what she’s told…

Yeah…and just like her mother, she’s too hungry to wait for mommy to take a photo of the cracked pointy end. So all I got was a pic of the peeling of the egg in progress.

Peeling the egg

The “grand” in grandparents

If DS and DD could write poetry at this point in their lives, maybe this is what they would say… 🙂

There’s a reason why grandparents are called what they are
I’ll tell you why I think mine are the grandest by far
I have four grandparents, yes wee little me
When they’re around, life’s all fun and great glee

First is my grandad, my daddy’s daddy
He folds paper frogs and sails boats with me
I love to be carried and hear all his stories
There’s always a present(!) when he’s back with the groceries

My paternal grandma is small and petite
Mealtime menus are always a scrumptious treat
Her patience with our antics is legendary
My parents think we get away with transgressions too many

My mama’s papa spends most his time being contemplative
He loves desserts, he’s a true blue North Malaysian native
When grandpa’s with me, it feels like we’ve all the time in the world
And from his memory countless lullabies, songs and rhymes will unfurl

My maternal grandma is bursting with energy
She never sits still, so much to be done, must stay busy
All time perfection is her satisfaction
I wonder if that’s where I inherited my determination!

My grandads my grandmas the greatest they are
So you see why I think they’re the grandest by far
I thank God for His wonderful gifts to me
of grand grandparents, as grand as can be

©Copyrights reserved – iwonderbee

Kick-start to a Monday

Every weekday morning, DH gives me a ride to the MRT station near our home where I then board a train to work. And every morning when I get out of the car, my spectacles mist up.  So I remove my glasses off my nose, squint to check there are no cars, cross the road to the other side where the station is while trying to wipe the moisture off them, put them back on my nose and wave a second bye to DH. All in one smooth action.

So it was with this morning.

Except.  When I’d crossed over to the other side of the road and was trying to put my spectacles back on my nose, I stubbed the side of my left big toe against a small curb, and the next thing I knew, I was like, “Whoooaaaaah!!”  There was a brief airborne moment, arms and legs flailing, and then I landed, thankfully on my feet AND…thankfully with my heels on the grating, not in between!

 As if holding one’s misted spectacles and hurrying across the road with one’s eyes all creased up doesn’t scream geeky geek enough, I have to now throw in the klutz factor for good measure. A wide-eyed driver who’d been sitting nonchalantly in his parked car goggled disbelievingly as I tried to resume a normal gait and poker face, and pretend that flying through the air with exclamations is all in a morning’s routine for me.

 Talk about making a public spectacle.

Talk about a wake up call for a groggy geeky klutz.  [Heh, try saying that quickly 10 times!] 😉

Talk about an adrenaline rush.  I was still shaking with silent laughter all the way up the steps to the station control.

Talk about literally kick-starting yourself on a Monday morning…