Better Bought Than Baked

by Lullanotes on Monday, January 28, 2013

Photo taken from Pick Yin
I am a person who has never baked much in life. Baking doesn't repel me but since young, I was forbidden to make a mess in the kitchen so I was kept out of it most of the time. Even though I am all grown-up now and my mother does not stop me from using the kitchen anymore, there is still the mental hurdle that I should not dabble in the kitchen. In fact, I quite like the idea of baking - filling the kitchen with a lovely smell, having loved ones sample my food with joy, being proud of the fact that I can be domesticated .. but the brutal truth after Sunday was .. perhaps I am not going to be as fond as baking as I would ever like to be.

Our friend Greta invited us over to her place to bake pineapple tarts together on Sunday and some of us even stayed over on Saturday to have a pyjamas party. Ever welcoming, she even queued 45 minutes to get a box of Loong Fatt *Tau Sar Piah so that we could have it for tea.

For a start, it is near Chinese New Year and going shopping for the ingredients was a hassle. There was a huge trolley traffic jam in NTUC Fairprice Xtra supermarket and one could barely move in the crowd so the best cause of action was to really have someone 'jaga' (guard) the trolley and have the others sprint to other aisles in search of the necessary. Pre-made pineapple tart filling was also out of stock due to its popularity.

Back at the apartment on Sunday, we had to knead the dough, let it settle, prepare the pineapple filling, roll it into evenly sized portions, use the mold to cut into the dough, oil the pans, heat the oven, glaze the pastry and the list goes on. In total, I think we took about 5 hours excluding cleaning up. Given that we are not mass producing, the cost and effort going into making our own pineapple tarts seem to work against us. It is officially much cheaper to buy than make your own. All of us also looked worse for wear - greasy, dishevelled and fatigued.

I have therefore concluded that you need to have stamina to bake good pineapple tarts as there is a lot of preparation and standing involved. Respect to hawkers and bakers as it made me experience first hand that cooking and baking for prolonged period is no mean feat. No more pineapple tarts making for next year! Instead I think we shall have a tea party with bought tarts in comfortable couches.

*Tau Sar Piah is a teochew biscuit, literally translated as 'Bean Paste Biscuit'.

The Sacrifice

by Lullanotes on Monday, January 21, 2013

Karl Lagerfled's stupendous and wonderful library is to be envied

I was at home on Sunday, with no prior engagements and when it became too tough to look for a pair of lost sportshoes in the storeroom, I started hurling things out with a vengence, determined to do some cleanup.

The thing about the storeroom is that once something goes in, it rarely makes its way out since most of the time after that, you conveniently forget its existence. Just like the printer I had from way back in 1998. What was the state of art in its time had now been termed anything from being obsolete to vintage to trash. I have some kind of an underground library going on in the storeroom. That is the only place left in my cramped apartment that I can afford to still keep the books. I also wanted to go through my books to decide which one to throw and which one to keep. When I first picked up the love for reading years and years ago in my childhood, I already had the vague idea that there is nothing more beautiful than to pass a well-loved book to your child in the future, hoping that he/she will love it as much as you once had. So with this, the books collection started flourishing. Being an only child also meant that you had all the time to indulge in a world that ensures you are never really alone with the characters in the books.

Of course when I grew older, the books collection started dwindling because you get a job, the work life starts taking over. You start to date. Real dates because it is unhealthy to date any character in a book and then the momentum of social engagements pick up .. and there seems to be so many other things more important than reading. Although I read less frequently but I still had the habit of trying to read before bedtime so reading 2 books or more a month is still possible.

Then came the iPad and with it, a wonderful app called "Flipboard" which tailors news feed according to your interest. Suddenly you reach for your books less and less - literally what I call 'losing the touch'. And then I received an Amazon Kindle as a present and all hell broke loose. I saw the Kindle essentially as a saviour. If I had the room, I might even have a pedestal so I could gaze at it reverentially and deferrentially. I saw the Kindle as my answer to the pain of having limited space in life for books and the thought of being able to access so many books at my disposal while on the go is something that I could never have done with the real deal. I have never looked back since although I know that purists say that it is a different feeling to hold a book in your hand and feel your fingers run through the spine and the pages. I agree but I also have to be realistic.

Coming back to the books in the storeroom, I found it so hard to discard any book. I held it in my hand and the memories started flooding back - of me lying in my bed late at night refusing to succumb to sleep because I wanted to finish it, of it following me to countries on the plane. Every dogear or crease on the book meant that I had given a part of myself to it and it became incredibly personal. I still kept my Enid Blyton books because I relished the thought of reading my children to sleep in the future if I am ever so fortunate to have some to call my own. In the end, I gave up. The carcasses of the few books I forced myself to strew on the floor depressed me. I guessed in order to throw out books, you need to tidy up your nostalgia and put on a mask of ruthlessness to drive it to completion which was something I wasn't prepared to do yesterday.

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