Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer immersion...sort of...



And Brian's off to school in Singapore for 4 weeks. It's actually 3 weeks cos next Monday's a holiday and the next week, he's got e-learning, which means he won't need to attend school. That's when we'll go do fun stuff in Singapore, and I know it'll be really fun cos the rest of Singapore will be in school, so no crowd!

This is the first year in all the years we've been away that I've resorted to putting Brian back to school. This is cos I've found his Moscow school extremely wanting in academic rigour. In the school office, we met 5 other boys also back for summer school. One was also a P5 boy, from San Diego. There was a tiny boy, maybe P1, and a big-sized P6 fella. On the list of boys returning from leave of absence, I saw at least 20 names, so I'm definitely not alone in the kiasuism :)

This is just the best way to enjoy Singapore's education system, which I think is superior in many ways. There's no pressure, teachers have no expectations of you, and yet you learn lots more (at least in the academic areas) than the entire year overseas. And after the one month, you get to go back to holiday camp (or what they call school) for another year. That's a good bargain for any kid, I think :)

ps. I'll write about his impressions of the different education systems later on.

pps. Also submitted Sean's P1 registration today. Eeeks, can't believe he's supposed to be in P1 next year, he's still such a baby!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Memory jolting with Jo



With us in this picture is an old friend Joanna. I got back in touch with her through Facebook and have not seen her in at least 6 years. She lives in Florida now and happened to fly into Singapore the day that we arrived. Decided to meet up as we had loads to catch up on. Poor girl, she was actually due to arrive a day before us, but tonnes of flight problems led to her taking 40 hours to arrive in Singapore.

We stayed in the same development about 10 years ago and she remembers stuff about Brian that I'd forgotten. Such as his inability to pronounce L, for example, Brian Leong would sound like Brian Neong. Kallang would be Kanang. So you can imagine how my name would sound...What's your mummy's name? Nim Ni Nian! And how as a tot, he'd love to zoom up and down the long tv console while staring at the console edge with the side of his eyes; up and down he goes, for ages, at a time I thought he might be autistic. It didn't help that every morning, he'd arrange his toy cars at just a particular tilt facing an exact leg of the coffee table, with each car in the same order. In the MRT, he would also shout out the name of every station super loudly, eg Buona Dista (another mispronunciation).

And once, when Joanna and her angmoh husband-then-boyfriend John had a barbecue, Brian (not 3 yet) drank wine, which he must have found in a cup thinking it was Ribena. He came to me all flushed and happy-looking. When I brought him upstairs to John's apartment, he puked at least 3 times. Major panic time for me. Thankfully, the alcohol intoxication did not have any permanent effect on him...aaaahhh, memories :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Logic 101...or rather Illogic 101

This morning, Sean said to Brian, "Tortoises have chlorophyll because they are green." Brian laughed and said, "Just because leaves are green and they have chlorophyll does not mean tortoises have chlorophyll." Sean retorts, "Yes, it does."

Brian explained that some time ago, he "told Sean that leaves have chlorophyll in them so they are green. Then Sean said tortoises have chlorophyll because they are green."

I laughed and said, "Sean, just because A implies B, doesn't mean B implies A."
He went into face-saving mode and said, "Yes, it does."

I explained, "No, just because having chlorophyll leads to leaves being green, does not mean that if something is green, it has chlorophyll."
Sean: Yes, it does.
Me: No, it doesn't.
Sean: Yes, it does.
Me: Well, Sean is a boy, does that mean all boys are Sean.
Sean giggles: Yes, it does.
Brian: My name's not Sean.
Sean: Yes it is.
Me: ooooookayyy...*gives up*

Later, while having lunch, Sean asks, "Where do babies come from?"
Me: Babies come from me.
Sean: Not all babies come from you.
Me: Well, earlier you said if A implies B, then B implies A. I had babies, so all babies are from me.
Boys giggle and Sean goes: No, they're not....then who's the father?
Me *couldn't be bothered to continue conversation*



After lunch, they had oranges for dessert. Sean notices a dark spot on the skin of his orange (see picture above) and starts getting antsy.
Sean: Mummy, what's this?
Me: I don't know, just eat.
Sean: I don't know either. It must be algebra.
Me: What?
Sean: It's algebra.
Brian laughed and recalled that last week, while he was doing Math, Sean had asked him what algebra was, and Brian had brushed him off with, "It's something you don't know!"
Brian laughs: He doesn't know algebra. So if he doesn't know something, he thinks it's algebra.
Me: !!!

Well, that's Logic in Sean's world for you. And that's all from me for now...off to Singapore in some hours, yahoooooo!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where the hell is Matt?

I saw this video off Metrodad's blog (which I love) and decided to post this cos the boys enjoyed watching the video so much.



Places that didn't make it to his videos are shown in this outtake video.



Videos from other years can be found in Matt's website.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mindless Movie Mania

School hols started on Friday and to keep the boys off my back, I've been digging up old dvds. So far, they've watched Finding Nemo, Ice Age, and in between they watch a bit of Cartoon Network and sometimes we join Eddie in 24 (he completed Season 1-6 in less than a month and that's only when he's off work and has the time).

Last night, we watched KungFu Hustle. I laughed till tummy ache at my favourite part, the part where the fat fella was throwing daggers and they kept landing on Stephen Chow, and moments later Stephen Chow being bitten by snakes after he whistled (cos the fat fella told him the only way to prevent the snakes from biting was to whistle). Shortly after that scene, I fell asleep on the sofa, but the boys and Eddie continued watching.

And right now, the boys are watching Dodgeball. We may watch White Chicks later in the day, that show never fails to make me laugh out loud.

Two more mindless funnies I like are Life of Brian and Zoolander. What mindless movies do you guys like?

Date night with Jason Castro: Every Tuesday!!!



I've gotta say, he's beyond cute!

At the end of the video, he said he'll upload video logs every Tuesday, "We'll make Tuesday our date night..."...Exciting...:)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Peas, peas, pretty peas :)

Two weeks ago, I planted a bean plant, see this, to try and see if Brian's theory here is right. I've never planted anything in my life, so what I did was dig the soil, and covered the bean seed with soil. Till today, there's been no sign of the bean plant. Presumed dead.

Last week, I decided it's time to plant the 3 pea seeds I had. This time, I wasn't sure if I should bury the seeds again. When I wondered aloud to Brian, he said that in nature, the seeds would be on top of the soil. So that's what I did, I just dropped the 3 seeds on top of the soil.

And VOILA!!! 2 of the 3 seeds have sprouted leaves...my first success at seed germination. LOOK LOOK! So exciting...



Now all that's left to do is wait till the leaves have grown, and we'll cut the leaves off one of the pea plant and see if the plant lives. Trouble is we're off to Singapore in a few days, and won't have time to complete this experiment. How?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flying the Jalur Gemilang

Jalur Gemilang is the name of the Malaysian flag, and literally translated means Glorious Stripes. To mark the last day of school yesterday, the boys' school held a closing ceremony, with some performances, an end-of-year school bell ringing, and the highlight which was the procession of flags.



The oldest student from each country carries the nation's flag into the hall. May, my friend from Thailand said children look forward to a chance to carry the flag every year, and this year was the first that her boys had this opportunity, only after the other Thai families with older children had left Moscow.

Being that we are the only Malaysian family in this school, Brian and Sean were given the honour of carrying the Jalur Gemilang (The boys are Malaysians but Brian thinks and insists he's Singaporean while Sean has said in the past that he was English(!) and yes they will both serve Singapore's National Service when they turn 18). In total, 55 countries are represented in the school. Singapore's flag was carried by the Ambassador's son.

The boys are seen here at the end of the video. Brian said that when they were seated later, Sean wasn't well-behaved at all, asking for tortoise talk, talking while speeches and performances were going on, and smacking Brian to get his attention. How embarrassing!



There were tears among many of the children and parents, as quite a number will leave Moscow and the school this summer after having spent a number of years here. Brian and Sean were totally cheerful though, cos what matters to them is SCHOOL'S OUT!!! (actually, not really for Brian hehehe...)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Temaki at Tomie's

A couple of mums from school are leaving Moscow after school ends this Thursday and Tomie invited us to her place for a Temaki Sushi party this past Monday. Tomie has been here for 5 years and will be leaving for Brussels; she's truly one of the nicest people I've ever met, and very funny too. My Thai friend May and I were the first to arrive after dropping Eddie off at the office. We started pottering about in the kitchen, hoping to pick up some tips on Japanese cuisine.

I managed to make Tamagoyaki all by myself :) I love this Japanese rolled omelette. Some patience required cos you need to fry the beaten eggs layer by layer, then slowly roll each cooked layer.



It was a wonderful spread of raw prawns (my favourite), squid, cooked prawns, salmon, yellowtail, tuna, avocado, cucumber, caviar, sesame seeds wrapped with rice and seaweed temaki-style. Some of the items were brought in from Brussels by Tomie and can't be bought in Moscow. It was a big bowl of caviar and I told Tomie she's lucky I'm on a diet, or I'd have finished half that bowl by myself, not to mention most of the other food as well.



And the party of twelve, a very international mix, 4 from Japan, one each from South Korea (PTO Chair Extraordinaire Soon Duk standing beside me), USA, UK, Turkey, Russia, France, Thailand and Malaysia/Singapore (that's me lah).



Tomie is the lady in navy blue sleeveless top kneeling in the middle and next to her is Tammy from USA, the only American in this school dominated by Americans who hangs out with us. Both of them have been here for about 5 years, and the year I get here, they leave. They will be sorely missed by all of us.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Between Nicaragua & Libya???

The latest Mercer survey on quality of expat life shows Moscow's scores sandwiched between Nicaragua’s capital Managua and the Libyan port of Tripoli. Omigosh, I didn't realise I was living such a miserable existence!! You folks should be lots nicer to me from now on ya? ;)

..........................................
June 11, 2008 Report by St Petersburg Times below

‘Miserable’ Moscow Ranks Low

By Nikolaus von Twickel

Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Moscow’s quality of life for expatriates is one of Europe’s most miserable, while personal safety is the worst on the continent, according to a study released Tuesday.

The 2008 Quality of Living Survey, published by consulting firm Mercer to help big companies and governments with international assignments, ranks Moscow a low No. 166 out of 215 cities worldwide in terms of overall quality of life.

Using New York as a benchmark with an index of 100, Moscow gets just 55.5 points and is sandwiched between Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, and the Libyan port of Tripoli.

Moscow fares worse than St. Petersburg, which won the country’s best spot at No. 162 and Kiev, which ranked 161st.

The rankings are based on 39 determinants, including the political and social environment, health care, schooling, public services, consumer goods and housing.

Top of the list is Swiss financial hub Zurich, which scores 108, followed by Vienna and Geneva, which tied for second.

The cities with the lowest quality of life are mainly in Africa, with Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, at 212, Congo’s Brazzaville at 213 and the Central African Republic’s Bangui at 214. At rock bottom, though, is Baghdad.

Moscow’s performance was particularly poor in terms of personal safety for expatriates, published as a separate ranking based on a mix of internal stability, crime, effectiveness of law enforcement and relationships with other countries.

Here, the capital scored only 37.7 out of New York’s 100, giving it the rank of 196, the lowest in Europe. Luxembourg came out top, followed by Bern and Geneva.

To improve, Moscow would have to address both internal stability issues and environmental factors like air pollution, said Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer who is responsible for the study.

Mercer lists Moscow as the world’s 14th-dirtiest city, worse than New Delhi but slightly better than what it called the ecological disaster zones of Mexico City and Baku.

“Sending an expat to Moscow would require to add quite a hardship allowance to compensate for that,” Parakatil said by telephone from Geneva.

The report says overall quality of life is worse than Moscow in two other Russian cities, Novosibirsk and Kazan, and two cities elsewhere in Europe, Minsk and Albania’s capital, Tirana.

Moscow’s comparative advantages, Parakatil said, were its size and international outlook.

“Moscow definitely scores very highly when it comes to entertainment, including opera and theater,” he said.

“It is also fairly cosmopolitan and offers a large variety of food [in restaurants].”

Parakatil said costs were not included in the quality of life survey. “We are looking at the availability [of goods and services] and at their quality, not at their cost,” he said.

Mercer has for the past two years ranked Moscow as the world’s most expensive city for expatriates. The firm’s annual cost-of-living survey will probably be published at the end of this month, Parakatil said.

He would not comment on the likelihood of Moscow retaining its top position.

He said cultural issues like language skills did not enter the report’s equation because otherwise the findings would become subjective.

As an example, he explained that it might be just as difficult to find English speakers in Tokyo as for a Japanese person to find a Japanese speaker in Spain.

A Moscow City Hall official said that while he could not comment on the report before he had studied it, there had been instances of bias and errors in past reports.

“We carefully monitor such ratings because we want Moscow to be an attractive city in every sense … and because we believe that it is a modern civilized city,” said Alexander Pogorelov of the city’s international relations department.

As an example, he cited a tourism survey published by a London newspaper that gave Moscow a low ranking because it apparently lacked a single United Nations World Heritage site. “But the Kremlin, Red Square and the Novodevichy Convent are listed,” he said.

Earlier this week, Moscow came 61st in an environmental survey of Russia’s 89 regions.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mary's a Reptile???!!!

Before dinner today, Sean was reading The Knowledge: Dead Dinosaurs and calls out to Brian, "Korkor, do you know that reptiles have small brains?"

Brian: Yes, that's why Mary's brain is so small. (Mary is their toy tortoise)
I was loading the dishwasher but immediately perked up: Brian! Tortoises aren't reptiles! They're amphibians.
Brian: No, they're reptiles...Should we search it?

Eeeeks, tortoises are reptiles? Geez, how did I get it in my brain that they're amphibians? How bad am I at Science! C'mon folks, surely I'm not the only one who thought tortoises were amphibians?

While googling, I found this video of a giant tortoise in Galapagos Island...the link caught my eye cos for a time, Sean loved to walk around and chant in an exaggerated manner the name, "GAAAAIR-LAAAIR-PA-GOSSS IS-LAAAANDDDD" on and on and on.

First the Earth, now the Sun

645am and I wake up. As usual, in less than 5 minutes, I hear Sean coming towards me. He always knows when I've woken up, I dunno how.

This morning, after hugging me, he said, "I'm cold. You're hot." Woohooo, I'm HOT!, he means warm of course.

Me: Am I?
Sean: Yes, you are the Radiative zone of the sun. I'm the earth. Guess where my equator is?
I point to his bellybutton: Here.
Sean: No...it has to be a line.
Me: Okay, your waist then.
Sean: Right. Guess where my core is.
Me: Your stomach?
Sean: No! My heart.
He continues: Daddy is the Convective zone of the sun.
Me: What's that?
Sean: It's a zone of the sun. It's after the radiative zone if you count the layers of the sun starting from the core. Photosphere is the surface of the sun. Flares from the photosphere travel at hmmmm, 400km a second. The Chromosphere is part of the sun's atmosphere. And the whole atmosphere is called the Corona.
Me: If you're cold, shouldn't you be Pluto instead of Earth?
Sean: There's winter on Earth, and there's also the South and North Poles.

I then turned on the heater to warm up cold Earth while he runs off to read Horrible Science: Space, Stars and Slimy Aliens where this information is apparently from.

More details from google:
A simple illustration


A more detailed one


Links here, here, here and here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cross-section Lego Earth



Sean fixed this lego after dinner today. Looks like a building doesn't it? He sat by the window near his plants, admiring his lego and pointing to it, then mumbling some names.

He then came up to me and said, "Mummy, I've made a slice of the earth."

Pointing from the top to bottom, he goes, "The white part is the whole atmosphere. The green part is the grass. The top beige part is the ground. The blue part is the sea. The lower beige part is the sand. The red part is the mantle. The orange part is the outer core. And at last but not least, the yellow part is the inner core." (I had to laugh cos I've heard Last but not least, but never At last but not least!)

He elaborated on the broad white section, this time pointing from the bottom to top, "First is the troposphere, second is the stratosphere, third is mesosphere and the top is the thermosphere." He spelt a couple of the words for me.



Image above from google. When I asked him why his lego didn't have the crust like this picture shows, he said "It does, the beige part is the crust." I said, "You said it was the ground." He went, "Yes, I said the ground OR the crust." I retorted, "No, you did not!" And why didn't he have Exosphere? He said his book didn't have that. Something new to learn then.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tale-spinning or Head-spinning?

Brian and his classmates were asked to pick a random sentence from any book (his form teacher has an extensive book collection and her own mini-library inside the classroom). They then had to write a story using all the sentences chosen. These were the sentences, and they had to be used as they are, no addition or deletion of words allowed.

Tramplebone made me help him build the model.
from Measle and the Wrathmonk

Not everything worth keeping is useful.
Rules

What is it? A barbecue?
Magic Schoolbus

Miss Cackle's Academy for witches stood at the top of a high mountain.
The Worst Witch

We have to get inside.
Once Upon a Curse

Suddenly, the entire class seemed to rise up against the headmistress.
Mathilda

Asleep, my love?
Shakespeare Can be Fun

I didn't want to be sent to Principal Love's office.
Hank Zipzer

Violet was the first to see the colorful blur.
The Slippery Slope

And Epiphany had won.
The View from Saturday

The ceilings were so high they were filled with darkness
From the Mixed-Up files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler

Seth had probably accused her of not washing enough, even though she scrubbed her face every night!
Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

And so, with a great deal of hustle and bustle, they did.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The little mouse finally wore me down.
Geronimo Stilton

I don't know what could possibly distract three pigs enough so that you could get away.
The Sisters Grimm

You told him Hades stole the bolt?
The Lightning Thief

Farewell, my friends. Adieu, adieu.
A Midsummer Night's Dream


After dinner, Barry's father didn't lose any time asking about the game.
The Hit-Away Kid

..................................................................

What a strange writing assignment. More a head-spinning exercise than a tale-spinning one, don't you think? I think after one look at all the unrelated sentences, I would have given up. Those who wanna exercise your creative juices, take a stab at this and let's see what you come up with. I think it'll be interesting to see the different stories that emerge.

This is what Brian came up with; the way some sentences were fitted into the story definitely felt forced, but I guess that can't be helped given the nature of the assignment.

...................................................................

Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches stood on top of a high mountain. It was a perfectly normal day (at least for those familiar with magic)…. until about noon, when the ground started shaking and the walls cracked. Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches fell off the mountain that it was on and crashed to the ground in a pile of rocks and dust.

A voice thundered through the air, “Who has stolen my Dark thunderbolt?” Almost immediately, a giant bolt of lightning blasted the rocks apart. Two students from the academy, Seth and Violet, survived. They climbed out from under the rubble and without looking back, started running away as fast as their legs could take them.

.....Continued here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

More Malaysian food



Malaysian turmeric & honey wings, don't they look yummy? Recipe here. So easy too.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Jason Castro thanks Dreadheads + Herald Banner Ad



This video isn't even out on Castrocopia yet. Just found it on Jason's myspace.

Drifting apart

We have a black square Ikea table right next to the sofa, where we place newspapers and remote controls. I was sitting on the sofa, and Sean comes from behind and drags the table away from the sofa. Immediately, I turned to him, stared at him with bulging eyes, and said loudly, "Stop!"

He grinned, paused for two seconds, and said, "Continental drift." What the...

Brian's on the mahjong table doing his Wordly Wise homework and asks, "How does continental drift happen?"

Sean goes, "Uhmm, it's the magma forcing the plates to move."

I said I didn't think that was true. Again, what do I know? This morning, I googled and found theories on Continental Drift and indeed magma does play a part. See this.

It was in 1915 that German geologist and meteorologist Alfred Wegener first proposed the theory of continental drift, which states that parts of the Earth's crust slowly drift atop a liquid core. Wegener published this theory in his book, On the Origin of Continents and Oceans, where he also proposed the existence of the supercontinent , and named it Pangaea, which means "all the land" in Greek.

When I told Sean that the original land mass was called Pangaea, he said the sofa was Laurasia and the black Ikea table was Gondwanaland.



Scientists believe Laurasia was made of the present day continents of North America (Greenland), Europe, and Asia while Gondwanaland was made of the present day continents of Antarctica, Australia, South America. The subcontinent of India was also part of Gondwanaland.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Reincarnation of Mrs Bean (hopefully)



We're trying to find out if a bean plant can survive without its leaves, see this. I managed to get these seeds (picture above) from Sean's teacher. She was in a rush when she grabbed these seeds, and we both weren't sure which was the bean plant seed.

When I showed the seeds to Brian, he said the seeds that looked like peas were pea seeds, so the odd one out must be the bean plant seed. I asked if he was sure, he said he was guessing. So I said I'll just plant the whole lot together with Mr Bean. He protested, and said the pea plant will have tendrils and will strangle the bean plant unless we use skewers.

Pffftpht...so I ended up planting just that odd seed, and hopefully it is indeed Mrs Bean. We'll see in a couple of weeks' time though I wouldn't count on it as I really do not have green fingers. Poor Mrs Bean, reincarnated only to have her head chopped off soon after...BUT sacrifices must be made...all in the name of Science!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Jason Castro updates his fans! New video yay!



Youtube video uploaded by Jackie Castro, Jason's sister, just 6 hours ago. The first non-AI video from Jason Castro especially to his fans.

And sucky news just out, there will be no Jason drumming at the AI tour, much less shirtless drumming.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Alamak...Best-nya Beef Rendang



The food posts will stop soon, I promise, this sudden wave of gastronomic inspiration was just waiting to burst forth after months of being suppressed due to my AI addiction. I'm sure I'll wind down very soon, as I do with all my passions.

After 3 years, I finally made beef rendang again. I love beef rendang so much but it's such a pain to cook. I tried using those ready-made rendang pastes and they taste terrible. Curry pastes are fine, but I haven't found any passable rendang ones yet. Any recommendations?

It took me 5+ hours just to cook this, and this doesn't include preparation time. Rendang has to be simmered slowly till the coconut milk almost dries up or it won't be yummy. Brian had two plates of rice with this. The last time I cooked this was in Frankfurt and he hadn't learnt to eat it yet. He's now a pro in eating spicy food, just like mummy :) but he hasn't conquered cili padi yet though. Eddie's not back yet so will get his review later. Okay, he's back and having dinner now, thumbs up from him.

Recipe here. I omitted a number of ingredients cos I didn't them, but I think it still turned out all right.

How plants prepare for winter

From Science Made Simple

This doesn't really answer my question from the previous post, but there are interesting stuff here.

Leaves are nature's food factories. Plants take water from the ground through their roots. They take a gas called carbon dioxide from the air. Plants use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into glucose. Glucose is a kind of sugar. Plants use glucose as food for energy and as a building block for growing. The way plants turn water and carbon dioxide into sugar is called photosynthesis. That means "putting together with light." A chemical called chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color.

As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is how the trees "know" to begin getting ready for winter.

During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories.

All summer, with the long hours of sunlight and a good supply of liquid water, plants are busy making and storing food, and growing. But what about wintertime? The days are much shorter, and water is hard to get. Plants have found many different ways to get through the harsh days of winter.

Some plants, including many garden flowers, are called "annuals," which means they complete their life cycle in one growing season. They die when winter comes, but their seeds remain, ready to sprout again in the spring. "Perennials" live for more than two years. This category includes trees and shrubs, as well as herbaceous plants with soft, fleshy stems. When winter comes, the woody parts of trees and shrubs can survive the cold. The above ground parts of herbaceous plants (leaves, stalks) will die off, but underground parts (roots, bulbs) will remain alive. In the winter, plants rest and live off stored food until spring.

Mr Bean and Mrs Bean (deceased)



This is a bean plant Sean brought home from school last Friday. At first there were two bean plants, but some rough play in the car caused the top 2 cm of the other bean plant to lop off.

Later in the day, I saw there was only this plant left and shouted, "What happened to the other bean plant?!"

Brian came out of his room, "I threw it away."
Me: But why??? It was still alive!
Brian: It was gonna die anyway. It had no more leaves and it can't live without leaves.
Me: Yes, it can. It still had its roots, it could still have lived, it could have grown new leaves.
Brian: No it can't. Without leaves, it can't make food.
Me: Er, I'm sure it can, it still had its roots.
Brian: Then how will it get food? You need the leaves for photosynthesis so that it can make sugar.
Me: If it can't get food without leaves, how does it grow from a seed?
Brian: The seed has nutrients and later it gets its food from a seed leaf, but once the first leaves appear the seed leaf dies.
Me (remembering something about the green parts of the leaves being essential for photosynthesis): The stem is green, so why can't it make food from the stem?
Brian: I dunno.
Me (grumbling): I still think it could have lived.

While writing this, I googled and found that "Photosynthesis takes place primarily in plant leaves, and little to none occurs in stems, etc." But I still haven't found the answer to whether the plant could have survived anyway relying on food reserves, and later on grown new leaves. Can someone help or should I lop off this bean plant too, just to see what happens?

Home-made Kaya...easy as ABC!



Made Kaya (Coconut Egg Jam) today. The mums in school (a Thai, a Japanese and an American) loved the kaya sandwich (with butter) I brought to school. The kaya's so unbelievably easy to make, and the best part is, sugar can be reduced according to your preference. This recipe uses less sugar than many I've seen; I'm sure the store-bought ones have even more sugar, they are always so sweet.

*I actually have NOT tasted the kaya myself (nor the ayam masak merah), as I'm on a strict diet now. The reviews are based on tastebuds of friends and family. If they turn out yucky, go after them.

*Next day update: The boys had kaya sandwich for tea and loved it. They said it was even better straight out from the fridge. Sean had 3 slices and wanted more.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ayam Masak Merah



I was getting soooo bored of churning my chicken recipes that I decided to scour the net for new recipes. Decided on Ayam Masak Merah, literally translated Chicken Cooked Red, but I'll call it Red Chilli Chicken. This is a Malay dish and the gravy is sweet sourish and spicy. I've always loved eating this during Hari Raya when visiting my Malay friends. Glad to finally learn how to cook this. I'm getting a hang of Malay cooking, it's not as difficult as I always thought it was.

You may adjust the spiciness by adding or reducing the amount of chilli paste. I had already made chilli paste last night as I had planned to make sambal ikan bilis (anchovies) for lunch today, so all I had to do was add tomatoes, lemongrass and other spices.

Both Brian and Eddie liked this dish, and Sean ate his little piece up too, so this one's for keeps. Recipe here.