nonya culture

Nonya culture, east meets west. Food loving blog.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Reflections

Where I love, in less than 3 hours from now, it will be 2014.

2013 has been a year of change. I lost my dad in May. Daddy was mine and I knew no matter what, I could turn to dad. He would understand. That was also the month I left my previous job in an agency.

Times of change. Uncertainty. Before Dad left we had serious chats about life, and what comes after that. I guess he knew his time was almost up and he was preparing me for when I had to be on my own. Dad always protected me.

He reminded me that we have a big God and nothing is impossible for Him. He shared very personal challenges he faced,  where there was no way out, then he prayed and miracles happened.  It took me months to accept that Dad has moved on. What comforted me, was strangely, the thought of my Dad, meeting his grandchild up there.. the baby I miscarried who now has doting grandpa all to himself or herself. Baby should be about 2 years old according to time here on earth, when grandpa picks baby in his arms for the first time ever.

2014 will be a year of new beginnings.

I've just released my first lesson The Strategy from my crash course on content marketing. Lesson 2, actually, released first because it is core to the course and the templates in it will be a boon to content marketers, to help them get it right, from the start.

I hope it takes off. I'm currently using the templates in it to plan the strategy for marketing it. Where I go from here, I don't know yet.

I have kids to feed any worry at times about the bills should my temporary job end before I land a permanent one. Years ago, I has a successful internet marketing business, but there was a paradigm shift and I could not figure out my way around it in time. Business is unpredictable.  A wise lady, an entrepreneur,  once told me, in business, some days you feast on lobster. Other times,  the roof over your head may be taken away. Be prepared for the good times and the bad. Be prudent during good times, so you have savings to tide you through the bad.

What will 2014 hold?
I can trust God to lead the way and provide for my family through 2014. He has never let me or my family down.
May God bless you too.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Kueh Lapis

As a little girl, I loved kueh lapis. I grew up with the rainbow coloured sticky version as a breakfast or tea time treat.  It was a game to me, peeling layer after layer of the soft, stretchy sweet dessert, folding each layer to bite holes in the centre creating patterns. Yeah, I played with my food more than I ate it as a kid.

As I grew older, the nonya version appealed more to my tastes. Each in typical, elaborate nonya style comprised of fine layers of cake baked one on top of the other. The composite cake is sliced to expose the thin yellow and brown layers of cake.

At a reunion dinner, an old friend brought the nonya version of kueh lapis. Tried it, loved it.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Happy Birthday Singapore

I'm a 6th generation Singapore. This country is the only home I know. My family's history is entwined with this city we live in.

It's National Day today. It brings back fond memories of my younger days in Bedok living with mom and dad. We'd watch the festivities on TV, then rush off at the end of it all to the balcony and watch the stunning fireworks display from afar. I still remember my late father's excitement, year after year, watching fireworks in the comfort of our own home.

 My late grandpa and father told me stories of Singapore's past.

Grandpa went from serving Singapore in the British army during colonial days, taking care of the army stores, to a prisoner of the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation.

He was herded with the rest of the selected Singapore men to be shot into their graves, but he prayed, then fled unseen by sentry after sentry of Japanese soldiers, to the family home, gathered his wife and eight kids and fled for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.

 A Japanese hired my grandpa to take care of his farm, and through that, supported my family through those trying years.

Then came freedom from the Japanese rule, Singapore's independence and then the racial riots. My family, being Peranakan, Chinese who adopt the Malay culture was caught in the middle of the insanity. The Chinese hated my dad and his brothers because they spoke Malay while the Malays regarded them as enemies because of race. It was something no one ever wants to see repeated in this country again. The words in the Singapore pledge "regardless of race, language or religion" strike home.

We have come a long way. May Singapore continue to experience peace and prosperity for generations to come.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

My Daddy

My dad passed away but the precious  lessons in life that he taught me will stay with me always.

I'll miss those long father and daughter chats we had. He was the only one who understood . 

Yeah I always talked back and am as stubborn as he was. He once said I should have been a lawyer as I loved those debates and had to always get the last word. He got the last word in out final conversation due to his very strong insistence and I was planning to continue our conversation when we next meet. Never did get the chance. Not on  this lifetime anyway. I look forward to seeing him again in the after life where we can continue our chats. 

Daddy was the eldest of 8 siblings. As a child,growing up in Katong, he already went out to work selling epok epok and taking on jobs to support his siblings. He hardly talked much about himself but shared with me our family history, the achievements of his dad , how amazing my mom is and positive things about everyone else . 

He saw my pain during the trying times in my life and shared his very personal experiences too, which encouraged me and reminded me that I was not alone.

In our last few chats, he taught me that people can change. He saw so many changed lives because of Jesus that he had lost count. He told me to pray for those who hurt me so that they may change and stop the damage.

He told me about his own mistakes and how God rescued him each time

He told me never to forget that I have a great God. To turn to God whenever I am I trouble as God will always come through. All this he shared with me so urgently and insistently as if he knew his time here was almost up. 

When he turned 70, he said that man has a life span of 4 score and 10 or something along that line, which translates to 70 years. Every year beyond that is a bonus year.

He had visited the places he wanted to go, done what he wanted to do. At the start of the year he told mom he wanted to me up with a whole list of people.

In his last 2 weeks he suddenly had the energy to dance on and on with mom. The year end party his friends organise was somehow brought forward then. On his last day he hada enormous appetite to eat his favorite food with his buddies. It seemed to me that God took care if his servant all the way to the end, giving him his heart's desires before taking him home. The bits and pieces I heard from mourning friends and family point in that direction. 

His body was cremated. When it came to the time to choose the I he for his urn, even that was taken care of. As we stepped into the first of 25 blocks, the first thing we saw was a vacant lot beside a deceased good family friend. We knew that was the best spot for him. Mom already decided a sea burial for both of them when the time comes so it was a single lot for dad until then.

God took care of every detail.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Mysterious Abdominal Pain

Cramping in my belly alarmed me. The pain came suddenly and left just as quickly. I felt totally fine was second and bent over in pain the next . 

This happened 3 times in my life and always in the O&G ward of a hospital. Twice in labour and once when I had a major infection near an ovary which could have cost me my life.

The next morning, I felt fine and went to work as usual. The pain hit once. I ignored it. It returned with a vengeance, so I gave in and called the hospital to fix an appointment . I was lucky. They had a slot that very afternoon .

The gynae examined me and ordered an ultrasound scan. The results were clear . The problem didn't reside in this department but as the area was clearly tender she referred me to the A&E department to see a general doctor . 

When I saw the price to go through A&E I balked. If I could bear the pain a little longer it might go away.

The next day, I saw my family doctor who also couldn't trace the problem without the proper tests. I needed endoscopy and x-ray.

Today,  as both doctors strongly advised, I went to A&E and had the full suite of tests done .

The X-ray showed my colon was too full if shit. So it's 2 days of laxatives and stuff to clean out the gunk , before another appointment for a scope to ensure there's no growth inside. 

In other words , once I'm home I'll take me media and camp in the loo.

Looking back in our traditional diet. We hardly eat any veggies. All our dishes are meat based, eaten with white rice and possibly a small dish of sambal kang kong hardly anyone touches . We have chap chye at best which is mainly vermicelli and a few slices if carrots and cabbage .

The nonya diet is a low fiber one .
So it's payback time.


I eat more veggies these days so I'll take this as cleaning out the past gunk for a healthier future.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Memories of a world of books

When I was a little girl, I loved reading. Mom and dad were teachers and dad was both the school and church librarian.

My early memories were of pure delight when dad got home with huge brown boxes packed with books, each telling a wonderful story which would transport me to a fantasy world.

Yes, there was lots of work to be done. Each book had to be processed for the library. Pockets were stuck on each book. Cards had to be prepared to go into the pockets. Slips of paper stuck to each book to record the due dates. All that was necessary so that the books could be loaned out. We all pitched in . The best part was we got first pick of the best books.

That was in the seventies.

In 1996, I married a fellow book lover. We lined our home with shelves to hold our combined book collections.

We have kids. Our favourite place for family hang outs was Borders. We'd park the kids at the children's books section where they can browse and read. If they're good, they get to choose a book each which we'd buy to add to their collection.

We grown ups pick our books and read near them.

Those were the days I worked from home. My Internet business paid our bills so both parents were always there for our kids.
I miss those good old days.

Yesterday, my hubby brought me out on a Friday night date. We went to Kenny Rogers at holland. I love their chicken .

It's a cosy place. What I liked best was the shelf of books, holding entire series with different series to satisfy various literary tastes. Especially for kids.

It felt like home.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Natures Home Spa: Fruit Facials / Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) Masks Recipes

I used to make my own skin care when my kids were little and I was paranoid about using anything artificial. Back then, I'd make my own face masks from fruits.

Lots of the hot beauty ingredients originated from nature. AHAs are naturally occuring acids found in fruits, sour milk while BHA can be extracted from sugarcane. These have been used for ages to slough off dead skin cells, unclogging pores, treating acne and revealing the soft young skin hidden underneath.

Found this blog by Anna which brings back fond old memories.

Natures Home Spa: Fruit Facials / Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) Masks Recipes

Here's an article I wrote too on the different fruit facials for your skin type, be it oily with acne or dry and delicate.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Nonya chap chye recipe

I must confess. Mom made this dish , not me.

I remember how my late grandpa used to share his recipes with me. Though we spoke English , when it came to food, he'd explain it all in Malay . Typically the amounts were estimated , like a pinch of the, a handful of that , just enough of this etc.

The secret to great food was always stir frying pounded shallots and garlic or rempah in oil til brown then adding in the meat, then everything else.

Here's a simple way to prepare chap chye.

  1. Soak dried black fungus , rice vermicelli and dried tau kee on water to hydrate these.

  2. Dry with a paper towel.

  3. Peel fresh prawn

  4. Slice belly pork finely

  5. Peel and slice a carrot or two

  6. Slice a cabbage

  7. Peel and Pound a clove of garlic and five shallots.

  8. Stir fry the garlic and shallots til brown

  9. Add the pork and prawns and let it cook

  10. Add in the cabbage, carrots, black fungus, tau kee and vermicelli

  11. Season with sea salt

  12. Serve hot

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Beard papa chocolate lava

Lava oozing out of a chocolate lava cake on chocoholics has the same effect as blood on sharks . It sends us chocoholics into a feeding frenzy.

I had a bummer of a morning and could use a little chocolate to cheer me up. Guess what, Beard Papa's first batch of chocolate lava cake had just come out of the oven.

Unlike some places which forbid you to take photos of the food, the ladies at beard papa, bugis mrt station, when they saw me trying to photograph my lava cake from the bag, took out a tray of fresh chocolate lava delights for an impromptu shoot.

Got my photos, got my cake and the morning's disappointment was quickly forgotten. An awesome breakfast was in store for me once I'd a chance to savor it.

I couldn't wait. The rich melted chocolate in soft pastry made my day.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Biz Success

Years ago, I went into affiliate marketing, not realising that it was impossible to earn a living that way. I had no idea the competition was that keen. E.g. 90% of the sales are made by 10% of the affiliates.. or is it 99% vs 1%? I didn't know, didn't care anyway. Nor was I aware that I wasn't business inclined. Hey, how can a blur blob like me ever do business? So in my pure stupidity, I went on and created one website after another. I had no idea you were supposed to have business associates and work with partners in order to be successful so I went solo. I didn't know it was impossible to get your website listed as #1 in Google Yahoo and MSN, so I went ahead and happily got sales that way, plus hefty bonuses from affiliate marketing SEO contests, not knowing what the heck was SEO. I was happily working from home building websites, watching them rank #1-#3 in the search engines, creating more websites and automating them and banking my cheques, spending afternoons with hubby watching movies, eating at all you can eat tea buffets and being there for my kids when they game home from nursery.. kindergarten.. lower primary school.. Then I realised.. hey, you can't make money that way. Where is the money coming from? etc etc.. and I realised.. it was impossible. So my business tanked and I and I got a job and rejoined the rat race. “Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.” -Doug Larson

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Growing up in Katong, the ladies around me wore kebayas adorned with finely embroidered flowers, a testament to their patience and needlework skills

I love flowers. Though I prefer scented ones like tuberose or the tropical roses that flourished in grandpa's garden, this struck a chord with me.

Foggy memories of a kebaya with small pink flowers just like these come to mind, but I can't recall who wore it.

I don't own any kebayas. Never did. I preferred western clothes, jeans and tees when I was young and later married out of the peranakan community . I did wear cheongsam to fit into my husband's culture but now, I have a yearning for the world I was born into .. Decades ago.. When life was simpler. Happier

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


The mimosa brings back fond memories of my childhood.

I was a little girl, growing up on Katong. Daddy's girl.

Dad and mom would bring me to Katong Park, sit on a swing, chill out as we enjoy the sweet outdoors.

I remember, was it my dad or my fourth uncle who showed me the thorny weed that was so lively. Touch it and its leaves were closed, hence its name, touch-me-not.

I'd squeal in delight whenever I encountered that touchy plant and run to touch its leaves with my tiny fingers, laughing as I watched the shy leaves close.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Drunken duck noodles

Drunken duck? I imagine a drunk duck who was given too much to drink so it fell into the pot to make this

Had that at tanjong pagar hawker center. By the way , it was delicious
Om nom nom...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Prata. Crispy, a touch of salty, yummier than bread and goes perfectly with curry.

 A good prata, freshly made, eaten with curry and a cup of teh.. as in the coffee shop style tea with milk.. is a favourite breakfast in this part of the world. It's a classic. From my grandpa's time til today.

A good prata with a cup of teh tarik reminds me of innocent days gone by. I'm glad with all the changes in Singapore, the precious parts of culture we've lost, prata still remains.

 Ok, so this was shot in Cameron Highlands featuring a sporting chef who agreed to the shoot. Enjoy!