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Hae Mee


Friday, May 22, 2009


No long worded entries today. Just two photos of Hae Mee (Prawn Noodle Soup) I whipped up on Monday this week.

We are coming close to the end of our sentence stay here in Beijing and I wanted to clear out the freezer by cooking whatever could be used. I found a big bag of prawns, defrosted the whole lot and together with some pork ribs, made the stock for Hae Mee.


No one would touch the stuff (someone didn't feel like soupy noodles while the other declared it stank) so I ate it all by my lonesome for two straight days, both lunch and dinner.


Can't see Hae Mee for three months now.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 4:21 am

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Sarong Kebaya


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I paid tribute to my Indonesian Peranakan heritage last week by donning on a baju kebaya. I skipped the sarong and replaced it with some modern capris instead and felt very pleased with the way I looked that day.


The yellow kebaya in the photo is almost ten years old and as far as baju kebayas go, this is not the best of quality but it's good enough for daily wear. Every summer, I give it a couple of outings. The thin cotton muslin is so good for the heat.


On my bucket list of things to buy in Singapore was a complete sarong kebaya ensemble. A fine set, meant for special occasions. So while Hubs and Sonny-boy went off doing their men thing, I headed down to Rumah Kim Choo in East Coast Road. The lady in charge, Belinda, was very helpful and had an eye for matching up the various garments. She didn't rush me at all and gave me a whole lot of outfits to try. I think it was the third or fourth ensemble when she and I knew we hit the right combination: A crimson baju kebaya with embroidered flowers and butterflies and a two paneled sarong skirt in dark green and russet.


The sarong is a bit of a cop out. If I wanted to go old school all the way, I would have to fold my own sarong and secure it with a silver belt. Something which:
  • even though I have the know-how, didn't want to waste time folding the tubular fabric in place and

  • while wearing it, didn't want to worry when the entire skirt was going to collapse like the walls of Jericho. I am the kind of person these things happen to.

So no, ready-made and folded with all the convenience and security of a YKK zipper, if you please.

When the zipper and stitches are undone, the fabric will unfurl into a traditional tubular sarong, says Belinda of Rumah Kim Choo.

I also bought a set of gold plated kerosang rantay to secure the front of the kebaya. It's got a phoenix motif, to match the edges of my sarong.



Back in the 18th century, during the VOC (the Dutch East India Company) period , the ruling classes in Batavia were made up of Dutch families who had been in Java for generations. The Dutch women took to wearing the kebaya to suit the weather and lifestyle of their adopted country.

Dutch couples, not unlike Hubs' parents and their friends if I may be so bold to add (Mother-in-law reads my blog), playing cards at home in Java, circa 1900. The women wear sarong kebaya and the men are dressed in cotton jackets and batik chelanas or pants. Never mind the clothing or era, some things never change.

The kebaya then was plain, very much like the baju panjang, a long tunic-like jacket. It was only in the late 18th Century where the women started trimming their kebayas with lace. As with every new trend, word gets around fast and very soon, all the Dutch women had a kebaya rendah (lace kebaya) to go with her batik sarong and a new fashion was born.

Kebaya rendah and batik sarong worn by Dutch women in the Dutch East Indies, circa 1900.

Now the Chinese Peranakan women knew a good thing when they saw one and took to it immediately. This new style then got exported to Singapore and made it all the way down the Straits Settlement, namely Malacca and Penang. Over the years, the floral motif and sulam (embroidery) evolved to what we see today on the modern kebaya.

And regardless of style or era, an outfit is never complete without matching footwear. With the Peranakan sarong kebaya, this comes in the form of beaded slippers. This was also on my bucket list but unfortunately, didn't find any that sang to me at Rumah Kim Choo so it will just have to wait for the next time we are in Singapore. By then, I would also like to look for a set of antique intan* kerosangs, if Hubs' my pockets allow it and maybe add another ensemble to my little collection. The lavender one I tried the last time was quite fetching too ...



*Intan are the shavings from cut diamonds. They are always flat at the back. Good quality intan have facets and are more valuable. The yellow coloured variety was the most popular and highly regarded in the late 19th century.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:06 am

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Of Friendship And Laksa


Wednesday, May 13, 2009



Our Laksa dinner tasted extra delish last night. Oh yes it did. And all because of friendship.

Hear me out, I'm going somewhere with this.

On board our flight back to Beijing from Singapore, Hubs lamented how he never got to partake of his favourite bowl of Laksa. Ten days of frenzied sightseeing, shopping and eating and somehow, the humble gravy noodle dish slipped past our taste buds. For shame!


I casually mentioned this to The Girlfriend on one of our morning conversations and promptly forgot all about it. But did she forget? No m'am. She went and sent me a Prima Taste Laksa Spice pack the very next day as a surprise. This made me fuzzy all over when I received it last week.

We couldn't wait any longer so I made Laksa yesterday evening. As luck would have it, I even managed to buy all the ingredients needed so it really was meant to be. You know how it is. Your heart is set on a certain dish but when you do the shopping, the store is out of this, that or the other. Utter frustration, you can imagine.

Anyways.

Hubs tucked into his bowl heartily (so nice to see your other half enjoy your cooking) and got his Laksa fix. I attacked mine too and while chewing on a piece of taupok not unlike a cow chewing its cud, couldn't help but think what a wonderful soul The Girlfriend was. She truly is a dear friend.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:13 am

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Mother Brings Son's Aspiration To Abrupt End


Wednesday, May 06, 2009


So I pick Sonny-Boy up from the bus-stop yesterday. It was business as usual except the bus ayi came running after us asking me about seat belt buckles. I was naturally puzzled - what was she talking about? - but a quick interrogation and search on the spot yielded not one, but three buckles from Seat Belt Thief's backpack. And apparently from two different buses too.

Bless my molten lava cakes!

I was mortified and apologised profusely. I apologised again this morning too. One wants to be in the good graces with the lady who is in charge of your firstborn's safety on the bus.

I have also made it very clear to Sonny-boy if he and his French buddy are ever caught swiping the buckles for trophies again, there will be hell to pay.

Which leads me to two questions:

  1. Are the seat belts and buckles on the bus sturdy or even safe enough when nine year old fingers can pry them loose?

  2. Why can't the two boys collect bugs and worms like everyone else?

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 4:18 am

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