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That wasn’t the end of the barbie.

After the kids went to bed, I randomly googled a bit more about Australian food and read about damper. It’s a traditional Australian bread prepared by travellers as they went through the bush. The traditional recipe requires very few ingredients because the travellers would only have had basic rations with them on their long journeys. The basic ingredients are flour, water, and salt. As the camp fire died down, the damper was buried in the ashes of the fire and left there to cook.

I ran to check if the ashes from the barbie were still hot. They were!

Hurried to the kitchen. There was just enough flour.

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My unbaked damper

Quickly mixed the ingredients together, kneaded the dough, flattened it, and with tongs in hand went back to the mini-pit. I made a small depression in the ashes and put the dough straight onto the bed of ashes in the traditional way, then covered it with more ashes and the remaining hot coals. Actually you can also use a dutch oven to cook the bread in the fire, but I thought why not do it as traditionally as we can since we’re at it.

Buried under the ashes

Buried under the ashes

It did cross my mind whether it was healthy to have ashes sticking to the dough, but I figured that this was a traditional method that has stood the test of time, plus many cultures cook food in the ground. So I crossed that thought out.

I went to shower and do other things. In fact, I almost fell asleep!

As I was nodding off I suddenly remembered my damper and ran to retrieve it from the ashes. It was cooked through, and had a hollow sound when tapped. That’s the test to know if your damper is cooked. The centre bit was burned from being cooked too long though.

Burnt in the middle!

Burnt in the middle!

I left it to cool on a rack and headed to bed, eager to tell the boys about it the next day.

The boys were so surprised to learn that you could cook bread from the hot ashes of a barbie. They gamely tried the bread and loved it! We had it with honey, jam, and butter. I loved the smokey flavour of the bread. Pity that I had left it too long and the middle part was inedible.

We agreed that this was definitely something we want to make again, and that we should try it at the next barbeque. Apparently you can even cook it on a stick like how you cook marshmallows. Some travellers got tired of waiting for the bread to cook in the ashes, so they wrapped a bit of dough around a stick and cooked it over the fire. They’d then fill the hole that was left in the bread with jam or honey and pop the whole thing into their mouths. Sounds delicious!

Ellery came home telling me how he told everybody in school about damper, how he had promised to bring some for them, and how I had to make it again. So he woke me up at 645am in the morning to make damper for his friends.

There are many modern versions of damper that use more ingredients and bake the bread in the oven. We made a damper using milk, but deliberately decided to keep it as simple as possible because we wanted it to be authentic, so left out the butter and cheese, etc. Ellery was even skeptical about using milk because he really liked the plain, traditional version.

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Shaping the dough into a ball

Pressing down the dough in the pan.

Pressing down the dough in the pan.

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Oven-baked damper

This modern damper was still good, and went well with butter and jam. Like a bushman’s scone I suppose! But the ash damper has an extra oomph that we all prefer.

I cut a hunk of bread for him to bring to school to share with his friends. You could see the look of satisfaction on his face at being able to share something he had baked himself :)

 

Recipes

Traditional Damper

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp of salt
2 cups of water

Mix everything together. It will be a bit runny at first. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a bit. Not necessary to knead for a long time (I saw one video where the lady didn’t even knead it). Shape the dough into a ball then flatten it. Make imprints all over it with your fingers. Make a clearing in the ashes, put the flattened dough straight onto it, then cover it with more hot ashes. Cook for about 40 minutes.

*The updated version we did was to substitute milk for water. There are many other versions you can find online, including adding herbs. I thought rubbing in butter would make it too much like scones though, rather than bread.

This video shows how to put the dough into the ashes.

 

Nair Food Adventure

  1. The Beginning of Our Food Adventure
  2. Week 1 – Down Under: Barbie

First stop, Australia!

My first thought when we picked this country was, barbeques! Or barbies, as they are better known in Australia.

So we started off our food adventure with a little barbie in our balcony. Sounds like a nice idea right? I imagined us sitting around a barbeque, chit chatting, letting the kids turn the food on the grill. Lots of good, fire-side bonding.

Nope. It’s probably the last time I’m gonna have a barbie at home. I wouldn’t say I was going to burn the house down, no, not at all. But I think we did create a lot of smoke. Enough to make people downstairs think there was some kind of fire, possibly. I realised the culprits were the meats. The oils from the popping sausages, and the marinades from the chicken dripped onto the hot charcoals which resulted in a lot of smoke. I kept trying to fan it outwards, away from the house, but found that there was still a slight smoky smell lingering in the house after the barbie. We ended up hiding behind the balcony doors, while I quickly popped out into the balcony every now and then to turn the food on the grill. Not quite what I had in mind.

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Tucking into the food. We decided to sit by the balcony for dinner :)

But oh boy. The food was so good. And I think the kids must have been so hungry by the time the food was ready that they were full of praises for the food too. I was especially surprised to see Asher repeatedly asking for more sausages! He’s never really wanted to eat them in the first place, yet here he was happily tucking into them, telling me how yummy they were. Maybe it’s the type of sausage. Note to self, chipolata sausages go down well with the kids. They really were fabulous though! Sausages grilled over a fire win sausages cooked in a pan or toaster any day! And the pre-marinated chicken we bought tasted perfect. On offer too. Score!

The highlight was the pineapple though. I remember loving the grilled pineapples from the restaurant Brazil Churrasco, somewhere I haven’t gone to in more than a decade, and wanted the boys to try it. It was a hit. They couldn’t get enough of it! And it was a breeze to cook – no smoking!

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Balcony barbie. Waiting for the pineapples to be ready.

Overall, the barbie was a success. The kids continued to talk about the food right up till bedtime, saying we should have another barbeque again soon :)

 

Nair Food Adventure

  1. The Beginning of Our Food Adventure

Out of the blue during lunch one day, Asher came up with this idea.

“Mummy! How about we have food from a different country every week?”

That sparked off an interesting discussion about how to decide which country’s cuisine to try, how many meals per week, what else we can learn in the process. We both got really excited and couldn’t wait to share the idea with Ellery!

In the end we agreed to do this:

  • At least 3 meals per week from the selected country
  • We would choose the country by playing a game
  • We must take at least 2 big mouthfuls of food, no matter how yucky looking or sounding it might be

Ellery got on board very quickly and we couldn’t wait to start our game to choose where we’d be ‘travelling’ to for our meals.

We took our map, got a counter from one of the board games, and took a dice too. Starting from Singapore, the number on the dice would tell us how many countries we can hop. We assumed that we would travel by land, unless we reached a country that was by the ocean, then we could take a boat/plane to any other country with a coastline. We’d take turns and the player could move anywhere they wanted without interference from others.

It was really fun seeing how the kids discussed with each other where to go, and I thought I’d better limit the number of countries to just six for now. Just to be safe. Just in case I couldn’t keep up with it!

After we’d chosen the six countries, I started to wonder…hmm…how will I ever cook stuff from there? I’ve never even tried their food before!

Want to know where we go and what we’re eating? Stay tuned! :)

World map with spices and herbs (Pic: Getty)

(Source: www.mirror.co.uk)

“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Now, even if you’ve never read a single Shakespeare play in your life, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that line and know where it comes from. It’s one of the best known lines from the famous Romeo & Juliet!

Or if you are from my generation, at the very least you would have flocked to the theatres to watch Leonardo DiCaprio play Romeo in the movie version of Romeo & Juliet.

This April, we are in for a real treat by the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT). As part of their Shakespeare in the Park series, SRT will be staging Romeo & Juliet from 27 April to 22 May 2016. This will be their ninth production of Shakespeare in the Park, and 2016 is an extra special year because this year marks the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. To join in on the celebrations commemorating the bard’s life and works, SRT has chosen to stage what is probably Shakespeare’s most well-loved play, one which has had a profound influence on popular culture.

Main Visual (with text)

I love the Shakespeare in the Park series! A picnic with friends and loved ones, lush greenery, and a good performance of the classics. What’s not to love?

SRT’s production of Romeo & Juliet will be a contemporary take on the classic, and if Merchant of Venice was anything to go by, it will be a visually stunning production. The young lovers will be portrayed by Thomas Pang (Tribes) and Cheryl Tan (Beauty World and Red Riding Hood), with Remesh Panicker, Shane Mardjuki and Daniel Jenkins in other leading roles.

Remesh Panicker!! I’m so excited to watch him act, you have no idea. I loved his portrayal of Shylock in Merchant of Venice, and am very keen to see which role he takes up and how he interprets the role.

If you read in the Straits Times, there’s a chance that this might be the last Shakespeare in the Park (sob!). If you’ve never been, you really should go down this year to experience the event for yourself.

TICKET INFORMATION
Prices: From $40 (student and group concessions available)
Venue: Fort Canning Park
Ticketing: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or http://www.sistic.com.sg
Performances: 30th April to 22nd May 2016

 

***Ticket Giveaway***

SRT has generously sponsored 1 pair of tickets for Sun, 15 May 2016, 7.30pm for one lucky reader. To take part in this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment in the post, telling me who you’ll bring for the show! Remember to leave your email address.

All entries must be in by Fri, 6 May, 6pm. Please make sure that you can make it for that showtime before taking part as the tickets cannot be exchanged for other shows.

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Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue.

Spin on the Old

So, Asher came back one day and started teaching his brother the K-I-S-S-I-N-G rhyme. Yep, you know that one. At first I was thinking, “Oh no!”. But as I heard him recite it I couldn’t help laughing at the new spin on it! It is so ridiculous and funny, I’m more amused than anything else when I hear them say it.

***

Mummy and Daddy sitting in a tree

K – I – S – S – I – N – G

First they hug

Then they kiss

Then they have a ba-by

(at which point I interrupt and say – “It doesn’t rhyme!!!)

That’s not all, that’s not all,

The baby can play soccer ball!

That’s not all, that’s not all,

The baby can eat sotong ball!

That’s not all, that’s not all,

The baby can go shopping mall!

***

And so, the second son has learnt it.

And so, the little sister has learnt it.

Hiya. How come kids pick up this nonsense so quickly, but are so slow to pick up good habits??

The mystery of kids and parenthood.

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My favourite cheeky monkeys!

 

I first saw posters of Hanuman – The Superhero Monkey hanging from lamp posts along the roads. Superhero monkey? What was this all about?

When I found out that the show was based loosely on the epic Indian tale, the Ramayana, that piqued my interest. An epic tale, a superhero, and promises of battles. I figured this would be something the kids would be interested in – and they were!

Hanuman is a monkey who had superpowers when he was young but he lost his powers after using them foolishly to play tricks on others (I thought that was a good reminder to the children to not waste their skills and talents on foolish things!). One day Rama looks him up and sends him on a mission to rescue Rama’s wife, Sita, who was abducted by the evil Ravana. Hanuman assembles some friends and forms an army of monkeys who set out to defeat Ravana. Along the way, he rediscovers his superpowers after learning to believe in himself.

The Army of the Five Monkeys (Source: SRT)

This production was unlike any other that I’ve seen from SRT’s The Little Company. It uses multimedia to wonderful effect! While the stage set at first appears plain, just white canvases on movable frames, the white screens provided the backdrop for all kinds of scenes to be projected onto them. One minute the monkeys are in a jungle, then they are soaring through the sky, and then (my favourite part) they are walking in a labyrinth of walls and one of the characters even gets sw……!

Wait, what was that?

Sorry! I don’t want to spoil this part! You got to watch it to see for yourself!

Sean Lai Millicent Wong Zachary Ibrahim and Jo Tan in Hanuman The Superhero Monkey

Hanuman leading the band of monkeys (Source: SRT)

I loved how the images were stylised to look like comics, and there were text bubbles popping up every now and then to provide the context, just like in a comic book. The result is that you feel like you are reading a Harry Potter book where the characters are moving on the page!

Hanuman – The Superhero Monkey is a collaboration between SRT and UK’s Imitating the Dog, who bring their unique style of theatre to this epic tale adapted from the Ramayana. The production also features music by Soumik Datta, one of the biggest new music talents in UK. I loved how the sitar was featured heavily in the music, and it felt very on point.

While this isn’t a musical extravaganza with songs aplenty like Treasure Island, The Nightingale, Three Billy Goats Gruff and other recent SRT productions, the show is definitely the multi-sensory experience that it promises to be, and you’ll be entertained for sure.

And anyway, when we left my boys were still singing the Superhero Monkey song :)

And also, my little almost-two-year-old girl told me after, “Mummy, I’m a flying monkey!”

So yes, boys and girls alike will enjoy this show! You can get your tickets from the SISTIC website or call the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

 

***GIVEAWAY***

SRT has very generously sponsored one Family Package (4 tickets) for 17 Apr 2016, Sun, 11am to one reader! All you have to do is to leave a comment below telling me one superpower you wish you had, and what you would do with that power!

This is a flash giveaway, so all entries need to be in by 12pm, 15 Apr! Please make sure that you can make it for that showtime before taking part as the tickets cannot be exchanged for other shows.

Thanks!

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Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue. 

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets for the show for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

 

Sea Apple

Chinese New Year was coming, and in typical fashion I didn’t think about what the kids were going to wear. It’s usually a last minute thing with me.

This year though, Alyssa was in for a real treat. She received a dress as gift from Su Mei, the founder of Sea Apple. Sea Apple is a clothing line featuring fun, modern designs for children 0 – 6 years. The clothes are made with quality fabrics sourced from around the world, and designed with comfort in mind. Su Mei designs all the clothes and she certainly has a wonderful eye for detail.

The Jade cheongsam is just gorgeous! The fabric has this lovely subtle sheen that gives it a more formal air, but without going overboard. Even though it is a cheongsam, which is typically regarded as a Chinese New Year outfit, I can see this dress being worn for any special occasion, be it a birthday party, a family dinner at a restaurant, etc. It is a comfortable dress that allows Alyssa to run around freely. Style and comfort rolled into one – that’s my idea of a good dress! The japanese pearl shank buttons, the pleats at the bottom, the gathers at the bodice, these all come together beautifully in the Jade cheongsam.

To the beach to look for sea apple trees

To the beach to look for sea apple trees

Where are the sea apple trees mummy?

Where are the sea apple trees mummy?

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Picking sea almonds. We didn’t see any sea apple trees that day, but saw plenty of sea almond trees.

Proof of how lovely the dress is? The husband actually noticed what his daughter was wearing! Haha! He even came right out to say, “This dress is really very nice. Where did you get it from?”

He never says such things :)

I was glad to have her appropriately dressed for the occasion, and her dress definitely drew many compliments.

She specifically asked for this clip to be paired with her dress

She specifically asked to wear this clip with her dress

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Playing with cars at a relative’s house

With

Star Wars mania. Going, “zyyying, zyying” with random styrofoam things.

 

Sea Apple has just launched it’s main line as well! You can go check out the clothes at the Boutiques Spring Edition fair at the F1 Pit Building from now until tomorrow (12 March). The main line includes clothes for both girls and boys.

Sea Apple at Boutiques @ F1

Sea Apple at Boutiques @ F1

Lovely set of stamps featuring the Sea Apple tree

Lovely set of stamps featuring the Sea Apple tree

For the main line, what is especially impressive is that Su Mei not only designed the clothes, she also created the print designs on the cloth the clothes are made out of! The theme is “A Day at Sea”, and all the prints have something to do with water or the seaside. Crabs scuttering across the beach, swimmers with flippers and swimming caps, fishing boats, a beach chair, and a map leading to nowhere. I love them all, and I had a very difficult time choosing which design to buy for Ellery and Alyssa. My favourite print was the fishing boats, but unfortunately it didn’t come in the dress design I was eyeing.

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Swimmers, beach chairs and crabs

Maps

Maps to a hidden world maybe

I finally settled on a dress with tiered skirt and swimmers for Alyssa (which I later found out was featured by Travelshopa in their section on whimsical prints), and a t-shirt with crabs for Ellery. Can’t wait for the kids to try it!

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Love the prints!

All purchases come in a lovely box

All purchases come in a lovely box that can be used for keepsakes

You can shop at Sea Apple’s online store for the cheongsams. The main line hasn’t been added yet, but are available now at the Boutiques @ F1.

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Disclaimer: Alyssa was given a dress as a gift but I decided to do a review on it. The clothes from the main line were paid for by me. All opinions are my own.

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