Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are We Greedy And Guilty Malaysians?


       A study has found that Malaysians are throwing away up to 930 tonnes of unconsumed food daily.

       Ironically, we Malaysians love food so why waste the one thing that we are known to love most?  The regular flurry of news reports on food shortages and the global food crisis have failed to alert us on the importance of being thrifty and humble to contribute towards sustaining global food supplies.

      The multi-racial of Malaysian food is simply glorious. We are blessed with such diverse food options that spice up our daily food consumption. Perhaps such diversity has led to our insatiable appetite for food at one sitting which eventually leads to a huge costly waste. At any time of the day, any type of food is easily available.

      We now have more restaurants that serve fusion food, making us more impulsively greedy in making our selections. Go to any of these restaurants and you might have a hard time making up your mind on whether to have a plate of Chinese fried rice or Sizzling Lamb Chop because the striking pictures in the menu send you drooling over them right away. Eventually, you ordered both items. The reality is you can't clean your plate even before the dessert arrives. Such a waste.

      Simplicity and balance are what missing in our meals. A balanced diet for a normal Malay family may consist of a plate of rice, a vegetable dish and a main dish (chicken curry, chili beef etc).

      Sometimes, when the main dish is dry, soup is served. Dessert is optional. Perhaps a bowl of porridge for lunch with some condiments? A plain sandwich would also suffice for any meal of the day. Why not? Such items are healthy, simple and economical, reducing the amount of leftover which might end up in the garbage bin. 

      We definitely do not want to pay the price for our own greed and selfishness. It's time we find ways to reduce food waste in our landfills and become a more conscious food consumers. Malaysia boleh or tak boleh?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bored Singaporean Homemaker Starts Talking To Herself

Hello, this is The Modern Homemaker again.

Ordinary Woman In An Extraordinary Situation

I hope you now know a bit more about me after having read my first blog entry here. I am a rather ordinary woman who now find myself in a rather extraordinary situation. Haha, what do I mean by that?

I drew this on my chalkboard at home. It is from a Yoshitomo Nara painting. 
Previously, when I was working, life was all about work, work and work. However, since I stopped work to follow my husband to Beijing, life is now all about household chores and projects I love. Why do I then say I am in an extraordinary situation? Well, this is because I suddenly find myself in the privileged situation of having lots of free time to do all the things I have always wanted to do. I should be happy right? Yes I am now. But I wasn't doing so well initially...

The Nightmares

I started having nightmares every single night (almost) for nearly 3 months since I stopped work. I would often dream of ghost(s)/monster(s)/murderer(s) chasing me and would often wake up in a cold sweat. According to my husband, I would also talk gibberish and scream in my sleep and would swing my limbs all over the place. He claimed I had hit him many times in my sleep. But he couldn't procure any form of evidence so I didn't believe him. He had then threatened to film me whilst I was sleeping. A bit like what the pesky boyfriend did in the movie "Paranormal Activity" when the evil spirits harassed his girlfriend. My husband postulated that the service apartment that we had stayed in in Beijing was haunted and was the cause of my nightmares. What rubbish. I had never encountered anything spooky in the service apartment apart from my obsessions with household chores.

My Famous Grandmother And Mother From Muar

Yes, I was very obsessed with household chores. I wanted to become super homemakers like my grandmother and mother. When my grandmother was alive, she was famous in Muar (her hometown) for her "otak-otak" and other local yummy kuehs like "ang ku kueh". My mother is also often praised for her famous curry chicken and "ngor hiang". Oooo, I am starting to salivate just thinking about yummy food. So you see, I wanted to become super homemakers like them because I wanted to be praised as well for my yummy food. I was also hoping that I could become a famous chef like Chef Wan! Haha, that was me during the period of March 2011 to June 2011.

 My sundried tomatoes, basil, cheese and olive scones
My yoghurt blueberry muffins 
My sugar cranberry muffins 
Please don't start thinking that I really enjoyed doing household chores and wanted to stay a homemaker for the rest of my life. Although I had secret ambitions to become a super homemaker and a famous chef during the period of March 2011 to June 2011, I had actually hated doing household chores and found it boring. However, I convinced myself that if I was going to be a homemaker, I was going to become the best homemaker ever!

However, the boredom started to wear me down and suffocated me so much that I slowly started to lose grip on my ambitions to become a super homemaker and a famous chef. Sometimes, I would talk to myself at home when I got bored and missed human interaction. I would say out loud things like "oh, I should do the laundry now" or "shouldn't I be prepping the food now for cooking later". Seriously, I felt like this was it. My life. Nothing more. Nothing less. Not unhappy. Not happy. This was it. I felt that I was slowly drowning in my sea of misery.

Putting An End To The Suffocating Boredom Between June 2011 To Mid-August 2011

At the beginning of June 2011, I finally had enough of the suffocating boredom and my life as a bored homemaker. I decided to engage in other projects other than just household chores:

(1) June 2011 to mid August 2011 - I helped out as a librarian at a non-governmental organisation in Beijing twice a week; and

(2) June 2011 to mid August 2011 - attempting (/pretending) to study my online self-guided art course with The Museum of Modern Art. I was so unmotivated about it that my husband had to lock me up in the study so that I could concentrate on my course!

No use - I was still wrapped up in boredom and I couldn't breathe. I started to consider going back to work.

Self-diagnosis Of The “Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” in Mid-August 2011

In the middle of August 2011, I came across this amazing article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal called "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome" written by M. Lattey, M.D. M. Lattey, M.D.'s learned opinion was that “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” could affect a housewife who has the following qualities:

(1) she is of above average intelligence and ability;

(2) she had performed well at school; and

(3) she did interesting work prior to getting married and she did it not just to pass time but actually enjoyed it and derived satisfaction from it.

Hmmmm. I am of above average intellect on most days. I did reasonably well in school and was taught to be the best that I could be and to think out of the box. I derived a lot of satisfaction from my previous job as a lawyer and strangely I did enjoy it (but I could only say it now with hindsight).

"Unfortunately for her, this woman has a good brain, and an education; and the demands of caring for a home, and small children, may satisfy her reproductive instincts but fail to satisfy the requirements of her intellectual abilities. She becomes frustrated and bored, and eventually presents the symptoms which I wish to describe.”

"It is no use trying to make these women accept the role of being “only a housewife”; they have already attempted this and found it wanting. They find housework, and the sole company of small children, lonely and boring."

"It also does not help them to palliate their problem with “busy” work or hobbies, unless the hobby is so absorbing that it becomes an occupation in itself. These women need work to challenge their abilities. They need to know that they are doing something worth while, and that they are using the brain which they developed when they were younger.”

“In addition to this, the patient has been out of touch with her work for some time. She may need encouragement to overcome her lack of confidence in her rusty abilities, so that some retraining may be needed.”

“I believe that such frustrations can be potent sources of emotional illness. Unless we recognize this development in our patients, some of the best women in our society will fail to develop to the full, and will become casualties to outmoded ideas.”

Symptoms Of "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome"

It is specified in the article that an "intelligent housewife" may display various symptoms such as the following (although symptoms may vary from "intelligent housewife" to "intelligent housewife"):

(i) headaches;

(ii) anxiety attacks;

(iii) nervousness;

(iv) digestive upsets;

(v) depression with weeping spells;

(vi) complain they are bored and that life is passing them by while they are doing nothing worthwhile with it; and

(vii) feelings of guilt because they think should be satisfied with their happy families instead of feeling unhappy.

Well, I was displaying symptoms (i) to (iv) above but it could very well be due to the fact that my body was trying to adapt to a new country. No, I was not showing symptom (v) but I seldom cry. No, I was not feeling guilty as per (vii) above. But I was definitely complaining and complaining non-stop as per (vi) above. I managed to somehow convince myself that I was suffering from “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” based on such observations. I was also convinced that having daily nightmares was also one of the atypical symptoms of “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome”. I was thus self-diagnosed in mid-August 2011 as suffering from “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome”.

Cure for “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome”

I felt that I had to find a cure quickly. I needed more intellectual stimulations quickly. So this was what I did:

(1) August 2011 and continuing - researching ideas for blogs/sites/businesses;

(2) September 2011 and continuing - learning all the techie stuff about setting up a blog and setting up my first blog "The Modern Homemakers" and then my second blog "The Modern Homemakers @ NaNoWriMo 2011" (you can see both blogs by clicking on their names under my name in my sign-off below); 

(3) September 2011 and continuing - I intend to devote my time to studying methods of advertising through social media and bringing traffic to my blogs and I also intend to read all the self-help, motivational and business e-books that I have downloaded;

(4) September 2011 to October 2011 - researching and coming up with a business plan (this is going to be tough) for Project Secret (ssssshhhh, don't tell anyone, this is a secret); and

(5) October 2011 and continuing - executing my business plan for Project Secret (if approved) or if not approved to continue to fine tweak it and brainstorm for other ideas.

Symptoms of “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” have subsided

I don't really feel the effects of "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome" these days although I still have self-doubts about my life sometimes. But I am not worried. I know I will recover eventually. I know that if I continue to engage myself intellectually by reading and learning, I will get better. I hope that if you ever find yourself to be in the same situation as me, you will not despair. You just need to constantly apply yourself intellectually by reading and learning new things. After you have read and learnt these new things, please don't forget to apply your knowledge in what you are doing in your life. Knowledge is king and when you have so much knowledge you can apply, you will soon feel like a King (ok ok Queen if you are a lady) too.

Let's keep learning, thinking and creating and be happy Modern Homemakers! 
Thank You Very Much

I have now come to the end of my case study on myself with regards to "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome".

Thank you very much for listening to me. I appreciate it very much. The next time we speak, hopefully I will have recovered.

Yours truly,

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Hello Everyone!

Hello everyone, I am so excited to be given the chance to talk to you and be your friend on eHomemakers. 

Who am I? 

My name is I-Ping and I am a 31 years old Singaporean lady. These days, I divide my time between Beijing and Singapore due to my husband’s work. Each is home to me. I love Beijing for its history, culture, optimism, space and vibrancy. I love Singapore because I grew up here and my family and friends are here. 

   Chef preparing the famous Peiking duck at Dadong 
   restaurant in Beijing, famous for its Peiking duck. 

   The famous Peiking duck with thin crispy skin. 

   The condiments for the Peiking duck served in a nice 
   minimalist plate. 
Sculpture at the famous 798 Art District, Beijing 

Scribblings left on The Great Wall of China by visitors. 

Bride and groom posing on The Great Wall of China. 

They have Durian cheesecake in Beijing! 
Muar, My Mother's Hometown 
I suppose you could call Malaysia my home too as my mother's family is from Malaysia. My mother's hometown is Muar, famous for (amongst other things) its yummy good food such as “otak-otak”, “or-luak”/”or-chien”, Hainanese chicken rice balls, char kway teow, Hokkien char hae mee, Bak Kut Teh and so much more! I could talk about it all day long. I found my calling to chatter at 31 and I do that a lot these days on The Modern Homemakers blog. The Modern Homemakers is about empowerment of Modern Homemakers through continuing education and online education. I also chatter on The Modern Homemakers NaNoWriMo 2011 blog - I am taking part in a novel writing challenge where I have to churn out a 50,000 word novel in 1 month's time starting on 1 November 2011. I write my novel on this blog and also share here writing tools and tips I find useful. 

My Simple Truth

I love to tell people my age. I am not shy about it although I detest looking older. Being older means being more experienced. Being older means having more stories to tell. Being older means having less hang-ups. Not like those youthful days of angst when I was rocking out to Beyond Cantonese pop songs or trying to dress and act like the aloof Faye Wong.

These days, I like to call myself a Modern Homemaker/wife/aspiring blogger/aspiring e-entrepreneur/part-time online art student. Aspiring blogger because I have only just started and barely scratched the surface of blogging. I hope to be good at it one day. Aspiring e-entrepreneur because I am sold on the idea of making money from the cyber world but I have not made any money. Part-time online art student because I only study art on a part-time basis through online courses with the University of Oxford.

I used to be a corporate lawyer but I have left the corporate world for about six months now. I don't work for a living now. But I hope to eventually. That's because I think it is important to be financially independent as a Modern Homemaker. I think it would help improve my self-esteem.

Most people call me a "full-time housewife" or "lady of leisure". That's because they don't understand what it's like to be a Modern Homemaker. The reality is that a good majority of Modern Homemakers does not just do homemaking. They do other things as well. A lot of Modern Homemakers work. Others study. Some freelance. Others volunteer. Some are husbands and wives. Others are sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. Some are sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. Others are…the list goes on. The roles are all different and call for different skills and qualities, which is why I get sad about generic names and classifications. I used to be a name-caller too but now I think I see the big picture.

My Human Traits

I am serious when it comes to work and my projects including my blogging. I put in the hours and hard work because I take pride in what I do and I don't like to let people down. I am proud and ambitious that way. When I am not working, I am more relaxed and fun.

My Interests

I love many things: art and artists, art & craft, art galleries, which don’t make me feel unwelcome or silly, baking because I like the aroma, blogging, writing and talking to you, books for their information and paper smell, bread, breakfast, brunch, cafes with good coffee and sincere people, coffee for its aroma and caffeine, design and innovation, education and learning because it makes me feel empowered, flea markets, ideas and brainstorming, London for its vibes, looking at other people’s bookshelves, magazines, old secondhand bookstores, paper, people watching, restaurants with good food but where I can dress like a slob, soundtracks even those of movies I haven't watched, swimming although I can only do breaststroke, technology and gadgets, vintage stuff and more.  

I love coffee. Another empty cup! Another cup please! 

My favourite cafe, F.O.B. cafe at Laforet, Harajuku in 

Yummy pancakes at F.O.B. cafe. Yummmmmsss. 
What I Hope To Achieve With The Modern Homemakers 

I feel that it is very important for people to continuously learn and develop themselves. I am convinced that knowledge is king and that we human beings can feel empowered through knowledge and change our lives for the better as we become more knowledgeable. Thus, we must not forget education even after we leave schools. We must subscribe to the notion that education is continuing and we must develop ourselves in such a way that we love learning and become good at it. I try to live by this philosophy now and hope to do so forever!

Ok, I have rambled long enough about me and The Modern Homemakers blogs. Now that you know my simple truth, it's your turn to share yours. :)

Yours truly,

The Modern Homemaker

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Friday, October 7, 2011

       This was totally accidental. I had a few friends over and had to make a dessert (never been happier seeing guests plunge their fork into it till the very last bit). My initial plan was to make a cream cheese-based dessert but sadly, there was no cheese left in the chiller. So with cream, leftover cakes and fruits, I had to whip up something. I grabbed my trifle bowl and began making what I had in mind...layers and layers of creamy fruitty cool dessert.

What you need:
1. Any leftover cakes or sponge cakes. I used chocolate swiss rolls. Slice them.

2. Fresh strawberries

3. Chocolate cream :

1 egg yolk, 40g caster sugar, 100g cooking chocolate/bittersweet finely chopped, 50ml water, 1 1/2 tsp gelatin powder, 250g whip cream (I normally used Rich brand)

- Sprinkle gelatin over water.
- Whisk 1 egg yolk + 40g caster sugar until pale and creamy. Double boil and keep whisking.
- Add chocolate and gelatin mixture to the bowl and stir until all is melted. Let cool a bit.
- Whip cream until slightly firm. Fold chocolate mixture into it. Set aside.

4. Strawberry cream
250g strawberry, 60 g caster sugar, 2tbsp orange juice, 2tsp powdered gelatin, 300g whip cream
- Mash strawberries with sugar. Add orange juice to it. Put in a pot.
- Sprinkle gelatin over it. Heat pot. Stir until mixture thickens a bit. Let cool for a while.
- Whip cream to medium peak. Fold strawberry mixture into it. Set aside.

Assembling the dessert,
Layer 1 - cake + fresh strawberries
Layer 2 - Chocolate cream
Layer 3 - Cake
Layer 4 - Strawberry cream
Layer 5 - Cake
Layer 6 - Strawberry cream
Topping - fresh strawberries and grated chocolate

All done!