Happy Year of the Horse! And a tale of two grandfathers

Happy Lunar New Year!

Where I grew up, in Malaysia and Singapore, this festival (along with Hari Raya Puasa (the Muslim Eidl), Diwali and Christmas) were open-door celebrations, with neighbors and friends dropping in and out of the celebrants’ homes to wish them well and to partake of the festive goodies. They would mostly be invited, although it would be perfectly normal also to drop in unannounced (to avoid horrified looks, this helps if you know the person 😉 ).

My late Granddad’s best friend, Uncle Guan (which was actually his first name), was Peranakan Chinese. He was a descendant of late 15th and 16th century immigrants to the Indonesian islands, who adopted some of the local customs and style of dress, and developed their own hybrid of Nyonya or Baba Chinese cuisine.

He also might have been a perfect character for an Asian version of the TV drama, Big Love (albeit a more genteel,  non-violent one) .



January 30, 2014. Tags: , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Fish, Melting Pot, Musings. 4 comments.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 63,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 30, 2012. Tags: , , . Musings, Stories. Leave a comment.

Panic Shopping 101 for a Storm

As the U.S. Northeast gets used to a new normal (of being slammed by several massive storms in a row), it’s good to have an action plan as one heads to the grocery stores for the mandatory panic shopping.


November 7, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . American, Kitchen Snippets, Musings, Stories. 1 comment.

Turkish Delights at the Four Seasons Kebab House

(Published on Baristanet Dec. 20, 2010)

If there’s one thing Valley Road had lacked, it was a family restaurant serving wholesome, ethnic food, with lashings of warmth and hospitality.

Enter Four Seasons, the Kebab House, on Valley Road in Montclair, NJ.

Owner Ozturk Eren, 44, is very particular. From the way he is adamant Turkish tea should be drunk – straight up without milk or sugar, to his insistence, for consistency’s sake, on personally preparing all the safely guarded family recipe-based sauces served at Four Seasons, he knows exactly what he wants.


December 22, 2010. Tags: , . Musings, Restaurants, Turkish. 3 comments.

Easy as Pie (Some Make it Look That Way)

This post is dedicated to all mums and dads who juggle careers and classes and unpaid work and family life, often with difficulty, but always with passion.

Two years ago, we uprooted our kids from their home/school/neighborhood/country as they knew it at the time and, with just days before the start of a new school year, landed in New Jersey, completely friendless and brand new.

On our first morning at the bus stop, I spied a friendly lady with her kids, who dashed over the street with a big grin and asked, “Are you a bus stop mom?” It so happened I was. We were immediately invited to her ‘bus stop party’ that Friday and, just like that, the kids and I had friends and were no longer new. (more…)

October 27, 2010. Tags: , , . American, Baked Goods, Musings, Stories. 8 comments.

A Meal in a Ball, with Peanut Butter

Our friends Deb and David are a step (and a male kid) ahead of us, having three beautiful, lively boys to be outnumbered by contend with and being familiar with the eating idiosyncracies of all of them. I was talking to them recently about how my second son, who isn’t the universal eater like my oldest but still eats mostly everything at home, hardly touches any sandwiches I’ve packed for him for school this year. (more…)

October 17, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cookies, Kids, Kids Cuisine, Lunch, Lunchbox, Musings. 11 comments.

Cool Range Find a Home

Long Branch beach had put me in the mood for a little an extended break and I returned to find myself smack in the middle of a house move and a kitchen makeover, plus two kids I can no longer afford to have away at summer camp!

It’s been fun picking out bits and pieces for my (hopefully) exciting new kitchen. One of the toughest decisions, though, was deciding on a free-standing range or stove.

I needed something practical, easy to clean, with a great oven and both a low-heat simmer burner (so I no longer have to use a bain-marie, or double boiler, for melting chocolate) as well as fast-boil super-BTU’d burner (so I don’t have to twiddle thumbs for too long for my umpteenth cup of tea). Did I mention the range also had to be good looking? (more…)

August 18, 2010. Tags: , , , , . American, House and Garden, Kitchen Gagdets, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings. 7 comments.

Hooking Them Early on Books

(Published on Barista Kids, June 2, 2010)
Pregnant with my first son, it was drummed into the heads of parents-to-be by doctors, nurses, healthbook writers and every well-meaning stranger on the street who insisted on petting my belly, that kids should be introduced to books as early as possible.

So I complied.

As my newborn son flailed around on his playmat, unwittingly hitting Mr Octopus and Miss Mirror-Thingamebob that hung from its arches with twitchy limbs he had yet to master, I regularly thrust at him all the baby cloth-books I’d collected in the months preceding his appearance in the world.

Did he appear interested? Er, yes. Possibly more in the sound of his mother’s voice. But I was certainly interested, and desired no distractions from worshipping at the altar of my firstborn.

So, like CDs on a rack, books slipped naturally into our daily routine of naps, meals, walks, bath, mat and tickle time. (more…)

June 3, 2010. Tags: , , . Kids, Musings, Stories. 4 comments.

Do Girls Make Passes at Boys with Glasses?

(Published on Barista Kids on May 19th)

My older son came home from school a few weeks ago and said he had passed an eye test, given by the school nurse, with flying colors. So it naturally came as a shock to us, and him, to be told by his doctor at a regular medical checkup shortly afterwards, that he might be myopic.


My firstborn, just 10, has lost his perfect vision! Was my immediate reaction. But then I considered how common it is for people to wear glasses, the mind-boggling array of screens, books (avid readers may be more susceptible to near-sightedness), and books on screens, and the fact that my husband and I both had to wear specs as teenagers.

Well, the poor kid didn’t stand a chance. (more…)

May 20, 2010. Tags: , , , . Health, Kids, Musings, Stories. 6 comments.

Of Kids, Mystery Ailments and Jam Jars

You may have noticed I’ve stopped making excuses for long silences. Something will, and must, fall between the cracks when one juggles home, work and blogging. But I’m sorry to have kept the three of you hanging all these weeks 😉

On Monday, my younger boy woke up in tears because he couldn’t walk. Bewildered, I urged him to stay in bed while I got my older son ready and out the door to catch his school bus. Eventually, he got out of bed, and, I gave him an umbrella to use as a walking stick while I set up an appointment with his doctor. He couldn’t climb stairs, he could barely hoist himself onto a chair, and I later had to lift him into the car. In between banging out seven stories, I took him to four different medical establishments – his pediatrician, a lab for bloodwork, radiology, and finally, a pediatric orthopedist (or is it orthopedic pediatrician?) way out in Cedar Knolls, Morris County.

Let me tell you about that journey. (more…)

May 6, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Health, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings, Salads, Sauces and Dressings, Stories. 17 comments.

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