Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sunday Bridge.

Last month, I went with friends associated with the ESOL class of t Albert Baptist Church on an outing. We went on a long train ride to the west of Auckland. At this new Swanson station, we had to cross the tracks on an overhead bridge. We had to walk two flights of stairs. There are two elevators for those who can't walk the stairs.

We walked again to Cafe Redwood, and I had this mini quiche of ham and spinach.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Miss Fries and durian

Miss Fries was my Math and Physics teacher when I was in Methodist school, in Sibu, Sarawak Borneo. I admired her for coming all the way from USA to teach us. I admired her more when she told us more about herself when she came to stay with us in 1999. I wish I could write her memoir.

Today, Miss Fries sent an email. I am so pleased she remembered Sam's birthday. Sam was born 7 years after Andrew died. He is my pride and joy. God made me whole again.

Sam started reading very early, and here he is at two years old reading to my American teacher. She was so impressed that she made a recording of him reading to take back to America.

There are many stories about this revered King of fruits. How do I describe the fruit. It's like a good thick custard. A good fruit is not just sweet. It should have a touch of bitterness. The best way to eat durian is to squat on the floor.

Most Europeans and China citizens do not eat durian, they can't stand the smell of it. The aroma indeed is so strong, that it is not an understatement that it smells like s***. There is a saying, if you like durian, you will come back again.

When Miss Fries came to stay with us, I was surprised she said that she eats durian.that So we bought some, and I told her," Lets eat the proper way." I got her a stool, I sat on the floor, the water engineer cut opened the durian on the floor of our balcony, we ate and laughed.

Durian is very heaty, it makes you warm and eating too much can make you very sick. We have known for ages that if you put some salt in the husk and add some unboiled water, drinking this concoction direct from the husk will counteract this. My siblings and I may be in the 21st century, and living in Australia and New Zealand, when we eat durian, we still do this.

You must never ever combine durian with alcohol. Some skeptics have ignored this and almost met with their death. One family has its own story to this warning. I won't go into details as this is a very personal issue.

Durian is an aphrodisiac. After eating durian, you have a warming effect. You know what I mean. There is a Malay saying," When the durian fall, the sarong drops." Some people take its literal meaning. In fact, it means people like durian so much that they will pawn their sarongs to get money to buy the durian. If this scenario is true, plus the pungent smell of the durian, it is far from being an aphrodisiac, if it causes fights in the family.

The water engineer and I went to buy durian. He was wearing his summer shorts in the humid Singapore. He bought the best ones, Sultan, Mountain cat or civet, D24 and the bill went to almost a hundred dollars. I was in the car, and he told me to get his wallet from his pants in the car boot. I took out his long pants and cheekily joked with the vendor that we don't have money and would he take the water engineer's pants. He laughed and said if he took our pants, he would soon be selling used pants instead of durians.

The queen of fruits, is the mangosteen. According to the Singaporeans and West Malaysians, the mangesteen is cooling, and hence an anecdote to eating too much durian. I learned this from my friends C.P. and S.L. Across the South China Sea in Borneo, it is believed that if you eat mangoesteen, you must not eat sugar, or you will die. I never had any mongoesteen when I was a child. My parents were cautious, they didn't want any of us 9 kids to die. I queried Dad, "But I will not eat sugar." Dad replied, it is not just white sugar, it is sugar hidden in biscuits and soft drinks." When I became an adult, I ate lots of mangoesteens.

I have lots more durian stories, I think I will leave them in my book.

Just one more for the road, the cultural centre, the oddly shaped Esplanade building, in Singapore has the look of the durian. Initially people got upset when it was referred as such. Soon, it became a term of endearment. Everyone calls it the Durian. Since the durian is such a well loved fruit, why not?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ABC Wednesday: Letter B

This is technically NOT a BED. When I saw Mrs. Nesbitts' poor cat Ella all cramped in a round pot as a bed, I told her that I will cyber Ella a more comfortable bed.

This is a Chinese BUN called BAO. This is eaten by the Northern Chinese. They call them a Flower Bao. After kneading, they score lines on the dough. When it is steamed, the lines open up, and hence a flower. It is eaten in place of rice with meat or vegetables.
ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt

I normally post this meme on my Photos site, but decided to do it here as it is a food.
Denise, I hope Ella will have a good night sleep and she has plenty of room to stretch her legs. This pot is 6 inch by 10 inch. The pattern is not exactly like yours, but the colour looks alike.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday B.E.

Last Thursday, was my new friend's birthday. I knew B though his wife R. I admire the love they have for each other. They have been married for 61 years.

I had lunch with them, and B told me about his son J.

Happy Birthday B. This tall strong tree seems right for you. It was so tall I had to photograph it in two sections.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

marco flowers: magnolia

Thank you Maia.

First I love flowers. Second, the badge for this meme is the North Borneo Orchid. My Dad's favourite flower. It gives me warm fuzzy feeling every time I see this flower.

Join Macro Flowers Saturday, a photo meme for macro photos and close-ups of flowers, garden flowers, wildflowers, blossoms, flowers with insects and butterflies (no insects without flowers), flowers with raindrops and whatever beautiful plants, plant seeds or berries you have, in close-up.

First time visitors, please read the rules. They are simple but I do ask that you, please, use a MFS badge or link back to MFS in some way. Thank you.

Macro Flower Saturday


In New Zealand, it is winter. The Magnolias are blooming.

P & O Pacific Sun

July 22nd, is a very special day to me. It is the birthday of my youngest son Samuel. It is also the birthday of my Dad. To make it more special, both of them have the same Chinese Zodiac, the Rat.

During the last few years when I was in Singapore, I make it a point to visit Kuching, Borneo, so that we could celebrate their birthdays. During those holidays, Dad and I spent a lot of time talking.

Dad passed away in 2006, and that same year, we returned to New Zealand. On Sam's birthday, I remember my dad too.

In April, we sailed in a ferry to Rangitoto Island. When we came back, this gigantic liner was docked beside Hilton Hotel. I was elated to see it was a P & O liner. No one could guess why I was so excited.

When I was twenty months, Dad flew in a little plane from Sibu. We were all there to see him off. All meaning the whole Chan and Kong clan. My Uncle Hung always teased me that when he asked me ," Where's Dad?" " Dad Fooooo" and used my hand to demostrate the flight of the plane. He joked that I couldn't talk, but I could ,"Fooooo.". This event was etched in his mind that whether I went to visit him, even when I was an adult, he would relate this to everyone present.

Dad came home, I was almost five. Later, he told me he had sailed from Singapore to London, and back in a P & O liner. He reminiced the swimming pool, the fine dining, yes fine dining. It wasn't the cheap buffet, but a sit down dining. Sometimes, he aroused the curiousity of the rich passengers wondering why a Chinese young man from Sarawak would be in this liner and gain their amazement that he was going to and on his return trip had studied in London.

I yearned in my heart to go on a cruise. Alas, so far, nobody has taken me on a cruise.

This post is for all my siblings and also for fellow blogger Carolyn. I was going to show her our stationary liner Hotel Hilton, but I decided to do this one today.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Turning fourteen

Our baby turned fourteen this week. In New Zealand, this is a day of great significance. At 14, a child is allowed to stay at home by himself. Some parents have a party to celebrate this day of " No more babysitting," " No more tagging along."

The birthday boy had a few friends over and they were going to have laser fights at Megazone.

We both made this "chocolate slice" cake. He loves it, and is very happy to be my kitchen hand when we make this delicious non bake cake.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My world Tuesday/Outdoor Wednesday:pizza oven
I am posting these photoes on this site because I have done a very serious post on my stories site where I normally post these two memes.

This is about food as well. The builder/maker of this outdoor pizza oven has built it on his property which is by St Lukes Road. It generated a lot of interests. He is created his PR by inviting his neighbours to a party and issuing an invite to his neighbours to use the oven whenever they like when they have a street party.

This unusual gesture made it to our local newspaper. This is what good neighbours are all about.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A-Z food fun: Z for zucchini

For more A-Z Food fun, visit Jen @
A-Z on Monday~~Letter W

Welcome to A-Z on Monday
where the alphabet gets tastier
every week!

The Thai people do not only eat the zucchini, The also eat the flowers and young shoots. These were for sale at the Thai King's birthday at Rocket Park in Mt Albert. Flowers can be deep fried like tempura.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I had posted this Indian kale before. This pix, I cropped it to show just the flower. At Christmas, I received an email with a power point of presentation of flowers. This flower made their last page.
I was very surprised as it was very rare, I found the original plant in the jungles near to NTU. I nutured it and grew many pots to present it especially to Indian friends.
It makes me wonder if that photo came from my original plants.

I used to think that Kale was a vegetable. I saw this in a florist, and bought it for my daughter G when she came home for dinner. The florist said it would last 2 weeks, but the outer petals started to droop after two days.

Thank you Maia.

I am joining this meme for the first time. First I love flowers. Second, the badge for this meme is the North Borneo Orchid. My Dad's favourite flower. It gives me warm fuzzy feeling every time I see this flower.

Join Macro Flowers Saturday, a photo meme for macro photos and close-ups of flowers, garden flowers, wildflowers, blossoms, flowers with insects and butterflies (no insects without flowers), flowers with raindrops and whatever beautiful plants, plant seeds or berries you have, in close-up.

First time visitors, please read the rules. They are simple but I do ask that you, please, use a MFS badge or link back to MFS in some way. Thank you.

Macro Flower Saturday

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Curry Chicken with Saffron Rice

Curry Chicken with Saffron Rice : Ann Chin
For 4 adults;

a: skinned chicken breast, 2 big pieces or 3 small, cut to 1 inch by 2 inch.
b: any other part of the chicken, same size or whole drumsticks.

3 tablespoon Malaysian curry powder or any red curry powder.
2 big onions chopped coarsely.
5 cloves garlic, smashed skinned and chopped finer than onions
1 thumb sized ginger, same treatment as garlic.
3 table spoons cooking oil.
1 table spoon sugar.
1/2 table spoon salt.
250 ml coconut milk. ( Optional, but really nice)
2 tomatoes cut into wedges.
1 stalk Lemon grass (Optional, I don't use in New Zealand)
4 potatoes, quartered and boiled.
coriandar for decoration,

Heat a pot, add oil till hot.
Brown onion garlic and ginger, should smell fragrant.
( set aside 1/4 of this fried onion, garlic and ginger mixture)
Add chicken pieces and brown.
Add curry powder, mix well.
Add sugar and salt.
Add tomato wedges.

Turn heat very very low.
You may want to add some water. The chicken juice will be enough.
Slowly simmer for about 1 hour.

Just before serving, add 250 mil of coconut milk, and preboiled potaotos.
Heat to just about boiling,

Your curry chicken should be a thick gravy.

This is a mild curry, if you prefer a spicier dish, you may add more curry powder or even chilli powder.

Saffron Rice,
2 cups of raw white rice.
Wash according to manufacture's instruction, wash 1 or 2 or 3 times)
Add water, slightly less amount of water to rice.
Add the onion mixture,
Add 1 tablespoon of salt.
Add I tablespoon of sugar.
Add the strains of saffron. ( previously soaked in two spoons of hot water)
Mix well and cook in rice cooker.

If you don't have a rice cooker, use a heavy pot, boil rice mixture, turn the heat very very low, keep lid on, don't open lid until cooked.)
You get a very fragrant rice.

***Saffron is a very expensive spice, tell your guest that saffron cost more than gold, and you are treating them like royalty.****

You can substitute with tumeric. Or you can just serve your curry chicken with white steamed rice or bread roll.****

I have cooking this for sixteen years for a charity sale for the Deaf in Kenya when I was in Singapore. Professors' wives from all over the world buy this, and I am quite confident that it is delicious.

This if for Abe Lincoln's new project.
If you are interested, you may like to visit his site.

For the complete meal I prepared recently for my church's makeover.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Zealand Flowering Cherry Tree

This photo was taken when there were still a lot of leaves, the day day I went to photograph the Sakura. I do have a photo when it is fully covered with pink flowers.

This New Zealand Flowering Cherry tree doesn't give me edible cherries. But it is an eye candy in more ways than one.

In September, it is all flowers, admittedly not as beautiful as the Japanese Sakura. Throughout the year, sparrows, silver eyes and other native birds sit on it to wait for me to feed with them with rice, noodles and bread.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teacher's woes.

This is New Zealand Jasmine, They remind me of the numerous students in my school. They come to school as buds, and when they leave, they are beautiful flowers with a nice fragrance.

This is a photo of my son's primary school, Edendale Primary school. This was taken last year when the weka or boat was on top of the roof. They had a 100 years celebration, and they removed the weka, much to the disappointment of many. They were told that the Weka leaked.

Fellow Blogger OLD LADY LINCOLN posted some of the things students say. I laugh because I have a long list as well.

My student exclaimed," What! you are 50, my Nana is not even 50. You can't be 50, otherwise you should be at home and be a Nana, and not be a teacher."

Another," No, you can't be 50, surely you must have made a mistake. Even teachers make mistakes too. I think you are only 40."

When teaching my students, "Then" and "Now", I tell them when I was a student, we had black boards, and now we have white boards. So the student says," Just like you have black hair then, and now you have white hair."

Do I laugh or do I cry? I didn't want to tell them, I lied, I am not 50, I am over 50.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A-Z Food fun: Y for yam


In my Kwong Liang dialect, we call yam HU TOU. We eat them different ways, and there are different types and sizes. We eat the leaves and stems as well.
The Polynesians have some very big ones, and by the time they ship to Auckland, they are very expensive. They also eat their leaves. Often at parties and pot luck dinners, they will bring a big pot of boiled taro with corn beef, or leaves.
During the reunion dinner, I met S & R for the first time. S is a Foochow, E. is a Teo Chew. We started talking about Teo Chew food and the Teochew restaurants I have been. I was describing their famous teo Chew dessert ORH NEE. It's literally a glob or lump of white paste. Everyone just spoons froom the communal dish. S. explains that it is yam made with lard and ginko nuts. It is very sweet and you don't have to chew the paste. It is a dish that you have to get used to. But the Teo Chews like it, because when ever they have a function, they always serve it.
A friend brought some Yam fritters and some fried NIEN GAO. She sliced the NIEN GAO very thinly and sandwiched it between two thin slices of yam, then put in a batter of glutinious rice flour. This is a New Year goodie. For nostalgic reasons, and knowing how much work has been put into making it, I tried some. I don't normally like NIEN GAO, but I like yam. My friend K. back in Singapore knows this, and gives me raddish/daikon cakes instead.
When I was in primary school, the school tuck shop operator was a Foochow Family. They sold yam cakes or ORH KUEH. They were big slabs and we ate them with chilli sauce. years later, I was in Kuching, where there were mainly Hakkas like the water engineer. The yam cakes were dainty and I voted with my legs.
In my junior secondary school, my teacher Mrs. T taught us beef puffs with a yam pastry. I took some home and everyone liked it. Mum was very smart, and in no time, she learnt to make it. You can eat this at restaurants serving HU KOK during the Dim Sum.
In some restaurant, they have a yam basket. Thin strips of yam are sandwiched between two Chinese sieves, and deep fried. The result is like a basket or bird's nest. Fried veg and morsels of meat are served inside the basket.
Then for a sweet watery dessert, there is the Bobo Chacha. It's a concoction of tiny cubes of yam, sweet potatoes, sago pearls in coconut milk. I don't like this because it is very sweet and the coconut milk makes it very rich.
There is a smallish red yam which comes from China, and they eat it during the Moon cake festival. I first saw them in Singapore.
I actually prefer the yam boiled, and eaten with some salt and a little butter. My Grandpa used to grow them, he also had a smallish ones, but are brown and bigger than the China red ones.
***The yam here is what people in the West call Taro. In South Est Asia, they call it yam***
Another thing mother made was abacus, it was the 1st time I ate it and super nice, it was not like the abacus I see in Singapore. Maybe mother wasn't successful, hers was very spherical, but it was better than the sticky and chewy ones here. It is not easy to find it here, so every time I see it, I buy and I remember mother's. Grace

My dad didn't like Yam, it reminded him of when he was living under the Japanese War. There were no rice, and they had to eat yam, sweet potatoes and tapioca. When I tell him it like yam with butter and salt. He said," Wait till you have to eat them day in and day out without any salt or oil, then you will tell me that you still like it."

For more A-Z Food fun, visit Jen @
A-Z on Monday~~Letter W

Welcome to A-Z on Monday
where the alphabet gets tastier
every week!