I love burgers. Well, I didn’t used to give two hoots about them until I started dating M; I fell deeper in love with him when he made me a Grilled Mushroom Swiss burger. Embarrassing, and very telling of my gluttony nature, but heck, it is a true story.
Our relationship obviously blossomed after THAT burger (I mean, how could it not?!); then, we got married in 2009 and M whisked me off to New York City for our honeymoon. I became very well-acquainted with the juicy, succulent burgers from Shake Shack and never looked back. Unfortunately, I was pregnant when we visited NYC again in late 2011 and boy, did morning sickness (more like, all-day sickness) do me in! M had gone out to get some burgers for us to nom on but I could barely take a bite. I was absolutely gutted because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to return to the States for a Shack anytime soon.
I refused to have any burgers after that, as I was certain that none could match up. I sulked in my damn-I-want-my-Shake-Shack-burger-NOW corner when I learnt that the burger joint has opened in a branch in London (my second home) AFTER I moved back to Singapore. But the gods were kind and heard my cries because Omakase Burger showed up on the island; I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I sunk my teeth into the uber moist burgers, which are not unlike the ones from Shake Shack. They are rather expensive though, as the burgs are annoyingly small for my huge appetite.
A few weeks ago, M and I were vegging out in front of the telly, letting our guts hang out after a rather unpleasant dinner while we sought solace in a food documentary on (you guessed it) burgers. M kinda came out of the documentary with a spookily crazed look and declared that he was going to NAIL THAT DAMN BURGER. And I kinda did a WWF-flex-mah-muscles thing and growled YESSSSS.
That’s how this burger came about. Incredibly juicy in spite of using lean minced beef, slathered with gooey cheese, fresh tomatoes and lettuce, topped with crispy bacon, and smothered in homemade aioli. NOW, THAT’S WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.
Sigh. I love my husband. I think you do too, huh? Excuse me, while I go bat my eyelashes at him for a burger.
Faith responds to simple prompts and it’s been humbling to watch her grow from a baby who does nothing but stare into space and flail her arms, to a toddler who, well, responds!
This afternoon, we were lazing in bed…
Me: Faith, kiss Mama, please?
She picked up my phone.
Me: Faith, kiss Mama, please?
She continued to fiddle with my phone.
Me: Faith, can you kiss Mama, please?
The little imp then surprised me, by planting three big kisses on the screen of the phone, complete with smooching sounds!
Well, I guess she prefers to give her first (voluntary) kiss to The Mama with Makeup, who graces the (silver) screen, as opposed to the banshee lying next to her…
If you have been sticking around here long enough, you would have read that my husband is an avid cook, and you would have learnt that he inspires me to be more competent in the kitchen (which is partly how and why this blog was started in the first place). If you have had the good fortune of coming round to our place for a home-cooked meal (and I’m not being boastful, merely telling the truth, YO), then you would KNOW that my husband IS brilliant. I put on weight when we were living in London because he made sure I ate well, and to do that, he made sure he cooked well. After all, even though I am a much better baker than a cook, I have very, very discerning taste buds.
For the past year though, M has been insanely busy at work and this means that he hasn’t been able to cook often, and man, do I miss the grub he makes! I was so delighted when his annual leave came around recently, and the doting husband cooked to MY heart’s content. I even put on a few kilos…testament to his cooking skills, no? But as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one enjoying his presence at home (and in the kitchen). Faith took on a very discerning palette a few months earlier, and she loves exciting flavours (exciting for a baby, that is). We abstain from giving her foods with sugar and salt when eating at home and try to make healthier choices when we are eating out (because she eats off our plates), and M has done a wonderful job in feeding her well. Take this lasagne for example, it is bursting with flavour, even though he hasn’t seasoned it at all. I was so impressed, that I stole more than a few bites whenever we heated this up for Faith’s lunches.
The girl lapped it all up with glee, of course. What’s not to like? Good food PLUS an awesome cook for a father. She is the luckiest girl in the world. And so am I.
We were lounging around in the living room, watching Heston Blumenthal work his magic on some very delightful feasts on the telly. Fans of Heston would know his penchant for creating dining experiences that are out of this world. In this particular episode, he demonstrated the creation of the meatfruit, a meat-based dish made to look like a fruit, something which I thoroughly enjoyed during M’s birthday celebration at Heston’s restaurant in London, Dinner.
Heston (on telly): To make a meatfruit, we are going to use…THIS. *holds up a bull’s neatly severed testicle whilst looking supremely smug* I am going to use a bull’s plum to make a plum.
He proceeded to squeeze the living daylights out of the testicle, and emptied its contents into a bowl of whatever.
Me: Whutttt…?! Did he just…? *mind overworking at this point, hoping that the bowl of whatever was meant to be tossed into the bin, not for consumption*
Heston mashed up the bits (pun so very intended) in the bowl and started fashioning a rather realistic-looking plum out of it.
Me (hysterical): OH-EM-GEE OH-EM-GEE, YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS AT HIS RESTAURANT? YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS?! *whimpers* But it was so good…YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS?!
M (stifling his maniacal laughter): Yah you did!
Me (all dramatic whilst pulling my hair and dragging my hands down my face): NONONONO. It can’t be! I am pretty sure it was chicken liver parfait that was stuffed inside the meatfruit. NOT BALLS! It can’t be balls…right??? WHAT THE…..
M was shaking violently with stifled laughter at this point and I was pretty traumatised.
Heston then held up a meatfruit that looks like a mandarin, just like the one I ate at Dinner, and promptly announced that it was made of chicken liver parfait.
Me (total outburst): SEEEEEEEEE!!! I TOLD YOU IT WAS CHICKEN LIVER PARFAIT! *slaps M on his back repeatedly, who was still shaking with laughter*
Moral of the story for me: It wasn’t balls that I ate.
Moral of the story for M: Please don’t mess with my head again. It was very traumatising.
Moral of the story for you: Marvel at the number of times I mentioned ‘balls’.
Forty years of marriage, three kids and two grandchildren. Ladies and gentlemen, there IS a Happily Ever After.
What better way to celebrate than with some homemade cake?
Strawberry & Lychee Shortcake with a cake topper that I made (both of which need to be worked on for better results)
Thank you, Papa and Mama, for teaching us how to love. Happy Ruby Wedding Anniversary to you two lovebirds!
I love to write when I am inspired. The story simply…flows. The process of stringing words together becomes so effortless, and the by-product, a memory that evokes and stirs. I may not be a wordsmith and I may not have a flawless command of the English language, but being able to pen my thoughts delights me to no end.
These days, inspiration plays hide-and-seek with me. Too busy, too tired, I often find myself psyched for that moment, only to be distracted or rudely snapped out of it. But yesterday evening, I was all alone. M was hard at work on a night shift, and little Faith was fast asleep. I didn’t realise how much I miss being by myself, until the quietude consumed me. I didn’t realise how much I miss being able to revel in nothing but my memories. I didn’t realise how much I miss being able to think. It was nice, being alone.
I found myself reaching out for my laptop and leafing through the tens of thousands of photos I have taken over the past three years. You see, I first fell in love with photography back in London and have been quite the shutterbug since, albeit a very amateurish one. Every photo brings me right back to the moment that I captured. There isn’t a single image that I couldn’t put my finger to. In a mere few hours, I took an epic tour of my life and it was, for the lack of a better phrase, pretty freakin’ awesome.
Some moments were better than others, of course. Some were good AND bad, such as the ones during our first family vacation in Perth. The three of us were just grasping the concept of FAMILY, and learning how to live with one another. Faith was barely three months old then and fell rather ill during the trip (think at least eight watery, colourless poopy diapers a day). We were worried sick and comforted her as much as we could, but we were also pissing mad whenever she screamed in the car seat. And she screamed EVERY SINGLE TIME. M and I tried to relax, but there was so much going on that we couldn’t. When the nights fell, we shuddered as we braced ourselves for hourly wakings that a sleep regression had brought upon us. Yet, there were the moments, when we felt so much love from our lovely hosts (the McLeans, who have never met us in person but generously offered to put us up and even welcomed us with our first Australian barbie), tilted our heads back with our eyes closed so the warm and inviting rays hit our faces, and held hands as we silently strolled through the campus of my father’s alma mater with his granddaughter nicely tucked into the carrier.
To others, this may just be another holiday, with a wee bit more drama, pitstops, and a bigass diaper bag, but to me, our first family vacation taught me love, patience, endurance, strength, generosity, friendship and the faith that we can get through anything as long as we are together.
Everything was more beautiful. Even the skies were bluer.
It was lovely, being alone.
We did a family photoshoot with Playground Pictures slightly more than a month ago, and I cannot recommend our photographer, Ken Umehara, enough. He is very friendly and professional, and has an excellent eye for compositions. You might not be able to tell from the photos but M and I are very stiff and are the most awkward people one could ever photograph (our pre-wedding and wedding photographers can attest to this…), so it’s all props to Ken for helping us relax and capturing the candid moments perfectly. We were a little nervous about the shoot as we didn’t know what to expect with a baby (who gets really cranky when she is about to nap) in tow, but we did the shoot in an hour, and are utterly pleased with the photos!
Why Botanic Gardens, you ask? This was where we had our first date after we became a couple. Cliché but so very meaningful to us. Hey, at least we didn’t head to the very bench we sat on as we held hands, okaaay?
Right, I shall shut my trap and let the photos do the talking.
‘Red Velvet, please. And I want it tall.’
My husband, M, certainly wasn’t standing on ceremony when I asked him what cake he would like for his birthday.
Well, I love him very much, so much so that I attempted to bake my very first four-layer cake which weighed at least five kilograms when it was finally dressed in a decadent, slightly tart cream cheese frosting.
It took two days of back-breaking work to create this, the most professionally-finished cake that I’ve ever made, even if it didn’t look like it hit the gold standards of established bakeries out there. What mattered most was M loved it. He declared it my best act, and that was well-worth the effort.
Happy Birthday, love!