Archive for the ‘food’ Category

It’s been a long time since I did an update on our food adventure! Got caught up with researching new recipes and well, eating!

Then June holidays happened.

And then Harry Potter happened (a story for another time).

And now it’s back to regular programming :)


So, moving on with our foodie journey. Just to recap, we were exploring Australian food. Having gone through a barbie and eating a traditional damper, I thought I’d have some fun and freak out the kids by suggesting we eat… Witchetty grubs! You can’t get more Australian than that!

It kind of happened by accident. I was searching around for Australian food, saw a picture of the grubs and was quite repulsed by it. But later on when I was getting something from BreadTalk, I saw some bread that really reminded me of grubs.

Does this…


…not look vaguely like this?

witchetty grub

Picture credit: CNN Travel

Or ok, maybe there’s a greater resemblance when there are more of them.


Picture credit: news.com.au

It does right? Right?

Anyway, I was so tickled by the resemblance, and more so by the thought of the kids being completely grossed out, that I had to buy some home to prank them.

I announced to them when they came back home that we were having witchetty grubs for dinner.

“What’s a grub?”

“It’s like a big fat worm or juicy caterpillar. And you eat it live.”

“WHAT? EEEWWWWW!! No I’m not eating it!!”

“But remember? We said the rule was at least two bites of everything!”

And I see the look of regret on Asher’s face. Priceless!


I showed them pictures of grubs, which elicited a whole range of sound effects from the boys. Then I uncovered the plate from afar, held it quite high so that they couldn’t quite get a good look of it, and as they leaned away in disgust, I put it on the table. There was a pause. And then, finally, they laugh with nervous relief and exclaim, “That’s just bread!”

Oh man. Moments like these remind you of how entertaining it can be to be a mummy.

The kids happily tucked into the “grubs” and joyfully declared how wonderful they were. To BreadTalk’s credit, the bread was really delicious! Even the youngest went, “Want more grubs!” It was hilarious to hear.

Apparently, the real deal is nutty-flavoured and is full of nutrients. But I’m pretty sure I’ll never quite pluck up the courage to try it for real.

Then again, never say never huh?

Loving 'grubs'!

Loving ‘grubs’!

Follow us as the adventure continues!

Nair Food Adventure

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

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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.


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.


Shaping the dough into a ball

Pressing down the dough in the pan.

Pressing down the dough in the pan.


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 :)



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

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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.


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!


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

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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)

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I don’t know about you, but my family loves Japanese food. Asher, especially, could eat it day after day. In fact, for his recent school show-and-tell on the topic “My Favourite Food”, he chose sushi!

The boys like picking plates off the conveyor belt, but you know how quickly that adds up right? So you can imagine my delight to find a place where all plates are $1.60. I thought to myself, even if the sushi is smaller than usual, at the rate the kids eat, it is still worth it.

2015-07-26 13.40.31

So I made plans to bring the family to Nihon Mura Express at Kallang Leisure Park.

2015-07-26 13.40.16

I’m no food expert, and I’m generally not picky with my food, but I really do think that the quality of the sushi at Nihon Mura Express was pretty good. I mean, probably not the high-end restaurant standard, but good enough for a regular meal, even a treat! I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though the amount of sushi rice per sushi was less than usual, the size of the fish on top was the standard size! That was great! We could try more flavours before getting stuffed! I suppose that is their plan too anyway, but it’s win-win.

Unlike regular conveyor belt sushi places where all the items are placed on the belt with no order whatsoever, here, the food comes in groups. What I mean is, all the appetisers will come first, then all the sashimi, then all the different types of sushi in their groups (gunkan, rolls, etc), then all the desserts. Initially I was wondering why they did that because then you’d have to wait for your group to come. But later on we realised that made things very predictable. You could eat what’s on the table first, and when the category you wanted came by you just look for the exact item you want.

I also liked how they kept the conveyor belt neat by having regular intervals of “stack me up” plates for the covers to be piled on. This probably makes it easier for them to pick up the covers for washing too.

At $1.60 a plate, the boys happily picked whatever they wanted (observing the rule that they had to finish whatever they picked), and I ordered all the sashimi I wanted. I’m sorry there are no pictures of food. We were all too engrossed with eating!

So engrossed that we ended up with 36 plates!



As we left, guess what I saw? A birthday offer. And oh my, what an offer. Basically, on the day of your birthday, and plus-minus one day (that’s three days in all), you only have to pay $1 per plate up to your age! My birthday wasn’t far away so I made a note to come back then.
2015-07-26 13.40.26

And we did! This time without Jon, but we still made it to 28 plates. And I paid a grand total of $28 plus tax on it!

The cashier told me of how the week before, there was a family of six that came three days in a row to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday. She had turned 82. They could only make it to 66 plates at the most, but what a deal. Three days in a row is a bit much, but hey, I guess they really love sushi. Or a really good deal.

I don’t know when the deal ends, but if you or your kids like sushi, and there’s a birthday round the corner, maybe you could consider going there.

The place isn’t that well known I think, so there aren’t any crowds to contend with. Parking is ample too. Perfect!

Nihon Mura Express
Kallang Leisure Park
5 Stadium Walk, #03-03
Tel: 6241-4260


This is not a sponsored post. It’s just a good deal I wanted to share!

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2015-08-04 16.37.14So I think she’s taken after me in terms of food. I love chilli and all things spicy.

The other day I had a plate of French fries and it was served with some chilli sauce on the side. I was distracted talking to another mum. When I looked back at Alyssa I found she had taken a fry and was happily dipping it in the sauce. Dipping and licking, dipping and licking. “Dip! Dip!” she’ll say. I had to tell her she needed to eat it with the French fry too, not just lick it off!

I know it’s just chilli sauce and it’s not that spicy. But my boys won’t even take that. So at 15 months, taking chilli sauce is impressive in my books :)

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For some reason, there has been so much talk about durians this year. You can smell when the durian season rolls around, but it seems there’s been an extra interest in the King of Fruits this season. Everyone is talking about durians! And all this talk just made us want to go out and get some for ourselves!

The boys have had durian flavoured cakes, ice-cream, and durian puffs, but have never eaten it straight from the source. We’ve had durian with our family before but the boys had been too engrossed playing with their cousins to notice any strange, spiky fruits lying about, nor a fragrant/pungent smell wafting through the house.

So when Jon and I decided to head to Katong to buy home some durians, it really was the boys’ first ever durian makan session. What fun it was!

I like the durian opening process, and discovering the inside of each fruit is just so fascinating to me! One more section, and one more section, and one more… Knowing that the boys have never seen a durian being opened before (yes, so suaku), I asked them how they thought the durian flesh was taken out from the fruit. Asher thought you needed very thick gloves to handle the durian, then the skin had to be pealed off like a kiwi. Ellery thought all the spikes had to be cut blunt then the skin peeled off like an orange round and around. They both guessed that the inside of the durian would be like a melon, and you could cut it into slices. Very amusing :) They badgered me to tell them what it was really like, but I simply told them to wait and see.

Thick gloves, check.

Thick gloves, check.

Goodness. Having not bought durians for a few seasons, I did not realise that there were so many types of durians now. Besides the famous D24 and mao shan wang, there are the black pearl, golden phoenix, red prawn, green bamboo, XO, etc. Honestly, I have no idea what the differences are between these types. I just tell the durian seller, “bittersweet and creamy!” We were recommended the green bamboo durians. Jon and I had a late night durian outing a few nights before but the durian was very disappointing. We had gone too late, so there weren’t many choices left. The durian was thin, ‘watery’, and too sweet for my liking. But these durians from 227 Katong Durian were so good! And although business was brisk, the stall holders were patient. You could also see that they took care to choose good durians for you (important if you are, like me, quite clueless about how to pick good durians).

227 Katong Durian

227 Katong Durian

Asher was so eager to have some he was quite upset that we didn’t let him have a taste when the Uncle asked us to try it. I did though, and it was good! I couldn’t wait to get home!

Out came the newspapers to line the floor. Out came the durians from the bag. Eager hands couldn’t wait to get their fingers on creamy treats. Were it not for the thorns, the boys would have grabbed the durians themselves.

Mini durian party

Mini durian party

As Jon opened the first durian, the boys were more interested in the fleshy pieces. It was perfect! Exactly as I had hoped – bittersweet and creamy. They licked their fingers and thought that was it. Then Jon opened another segment. Asher’s eyes went wide! It was hilarious! They were absolutely delighted that the durians had small sections with ‘baby’ durians inside (small bite sized pieces).



Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

We didn’t get many, so before we knew it, all the durian was gone! Poof! So much faster than I had expected. I told them there’ll be a next round. Ellery thought I meant that very night and he was so disappointed there would be no more durians! We showed them how to drink from the durian shells so their bodies wouldn’t be ‘heaty’, and wash their hands by rubbing the inside of the durian shell so there wouldn’t be a strong smell left on their fingers. It was past bedtime, so I hurried them to bed with playful threats of swinging durian shells at them if they didn’t go to bed quickly.


King of Fruits

When I think of durian makan sessions, I remember all the times from my childhood when my parents or their friends bought durians, how we shared them with friends, neighbours, cousins (and a priceless memory of my cheeky brother chasing my durian-hating cousin with a piece of durian), and church friends (everyone would pool orders at church camp in Malaysia and an uncle would buy back several baskets of the fruit!).

The next day Asher surprised us with this note. And I realised that we love the King of Fruits not just because it tastes great, but because it gives us the chance to build bonds of love.


A sweet surprise in the morning

Durian is more than just a yummy fruit. Durian is a reason to gather, an experience to share.

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This place is so new, I can’t believe I’ve been there before the word is out! It’s barely a week old and there hasn’t been any write ups on it. I’m not one of those cool types that keep up with the latest happenings and openings in Singapore. But this one I’ve seen almost everyday because I often drive down this street. From when it was just hoarding, to placing a logo, to the final reveal. I saw that it had something to do with a cafe, architecture and interiors, and my interest was piqued. Each time I drove down Joo Chiat I’d glance over to see if it was open yet. And on Monday I saw that it was!



Avenue is a cafe, store and office rolled into one along Joo Chiat Road. Opened by Quadwork Pte Ltd, an interior design company, the cafe tries to immerse you in design. Besides soaking in the design of the interiors, some of the chairs, lamps and cushions that decorate the place are for sale, and there is a corner featuring apparel and lifestyle products for purchase as well.

Inside the cafe

Inside the cafe

Alyssa liked that cat cushion!

Alyssa liked that cat cushion!

Coffee and cakes

Coffee and cakes

Clothes and lifestyle products for sale

Clothes and lifestyle products for sale

Renovation works are not complete yet, but the cafe part of the place is open. I popped in there with a friend today for coffee and a hot dog and left very happy with my meal. They have a limited menu but if the offerings are as yummy as the hot dog I had today, they’ll be fine. Aside from a variety coffee and cakes, hot dogs are the key highlight of their menu. There are just five flavours to choose from, and these are inspired by the cuisines from five countries – China, Singapore, Germany, Korea and Mexico. The Singapore hot dog is playfully named ‘Hor-Log’, the way it is often pronounced in Singlish. With the cute name, SG50, and going local being the trend, how could I not try it?

“Wan hor-log, pleez,” I ordered.

‘Hor-Log’ features a steamed hot dog topped with dijonnaise mustard, achar (pickled vegetables), sliced chillis, fresh onions, bacon bits and toasted peanuts. Who would have thought achar and hot dogs would make such a good pairing? But I suppose it make sense. Instead of regular pickles, use Asian style pickles.


Hor-Log (pardon the blurry photo, I was holding a fidgety Alyssa and snapping the pic at the same time)

I really enjoyed it! They use a mild achar that is light on spiciness but still has a tangy twist. The flavours melded together nicely, making each mouthful a good mix of flavours and textures, without any particular ingredient standing out too much. Soft bread, light scrunch of the hot dog, crunchy achar, and firm bite of the real bacon bits; sweet dijonnaise mustard, spicy and tangy achar, savoury bacon and sausage. It’s not gourmet, but I think it makes good comfort food. I would eat this again.

And now I want to try the other hot dogs too!

The hot dog comes with shoestring fries, and I liked that they were crunchy (yep, I’m a crunchy fry person) and easy on the oil. Turns out they use an air fryer for their fries. I’m no coffee expert so I can’t tell you how the coffee compares to other coffees, but I liked my cup.

I will be back!

Avenue Cafe is found at:
454 / 456 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427667
Tel: +65 6779 7153


Post note 13/7/16: I went back again several months later, only to be very disappointed. The hot dog and bun was not warm when it was served. Also, the shoestring fries were no longer served with the hot dog too! Instead of crunchy shoestring fries, there were cold, soft crinkle cut fries. I had brought a friend to try the place with me, and was slightly embarrassed that my recommendation flopped. Needless to say, I’ve not been back since. I’m not sure how the food is like now, but I do hope they went back to shoestring fries, and serving food warm.

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Cheese Board

For some reason we started talking about how the French eat cheese as a dessert after their meal, and we decided to try and assemble our own cheese board. Coincidentally I had gone grocery shopping the day before and bought several types of cheese, and my parents had brought back dried apricots and figs from their holiday, so we had a pretty nice cheese board!

And of course, it was topped off with a drink of kid-friendly juice. I would have gone for grape juice except that we didn’t have any. And I would have broken out the wine if I wasn’t going to be nursing Alyssa soon after.


Cheddar, Emmenthal, Gouda, mozzarella, Port Salut, raisins, cranberries, figs, apricots, mango, pumpkin seeds, and juice :)

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