Monthly Archives: April 2011

Aside

Living in a community that includes several high rise apartment buildings, it is not unusual for us to hear different noises during any part of the day. Many of these noises  are new. Some are becoming familiar. Sometimes we discover … Continue reading

Chicken Fight

Last week I bought a chicken. Not boneless chicken breasts. Not chicken wings. But the chicken – whole.

One of the first things we bought for our new apartment was a countertop oven. It’s nothing hugely special. But it works. And it allows us to make bread! I was anxious to use the rotisserie option in our new oven, and the whole chicken I had bought was just the opportunity.

Last Wednesday I spent probably 1 hour in the morning looking at how to make a rotisserie chicken. I looked for one of the simplest recipes I could find.

I went to the grocery store just after noon to gather the ingredients to dress up the chicken.

Later that afternoon I take out the chicken out of the wrap and start to prepare dinner. I do what the instructions I read online said to do: wash the chicken inside and out while checking to make sure that the giblets and kidneys have been removed.

Improvisation #1

What I was not expecting when cleaning the top of the chicken was this:

None of the instructions warned me about this!

I hadn’t seen the neck because it was tucked underneath the little guy. I didn’t realize it was still attached until I was lifting up the chicken to wash it in the sink.

Since I didn’t know what to do. I chopped the head off. The recipe did say to cut off excess fat- the neck was excess fat right?

As I continued to clean the bird, another unexpected thing happened.

Improvisation #2

Waving "hi" with it's foot

Again, the recipes I read never said anything about feet. Can you eat feet? (You probably can seeing as the local grocery store sells packaged chicken feet.) Oh well. They got chopped off too.

I put my lemons and garlic into the cavity and under the skin with butter and salt as the recipe instructed. I then proceeded to put the rotisserie pole through the chicken. Done.

Next job: rotisserie forks. These got put on the pole, wedged into the chicken, and screwed into the pole. Done.

This is the part where all I had read indicated I was to secure the dead animal to the pole using either cooking twine or cooking pins. I did not have either of these objects. Nor did I see them at the grocery store.

Improvisation #3

Dental Floss! I couldn’t leave the bird flailing as it rotated in the oven, now could I??? I had to secure it somehow. Please don’t judge me for using dental floss to tie up the new captor.

Did I mention the dental floss was mint flavor? Oh well…

Finally, the chicken is washed, stuffed, poled, forked, tied up and ready to be put in the oven.

I put in the rotisserie pole and set it on the one support that will spin it in the oven. My pole is an inch shy of the other side of the oven where the remaining support waited. I changed my method and put it in the opposite side first. Still too short.

I read the manual. I looked at the box with the picture of rotisseries, etc. As far as I can tell our oven came with a pole that was an inch too short. I probably should have tested the pole out before securing the chicken to the pole. What was I going to do now? I couldn’t just lengthen the pole.

Improvisation #4

The chicken sat on a rotisserie pole… on a pan. Some much for the “Rotisserie”… it was just going to sit there. It needed a break anyways, right? And this way I didn’t have to test whether the dental floss would retain the chicken as it twirled away. So, my chicken just sat there on the pan and cooked.

It goldened up really nicely. (You’ll have to take my word for it, I was so caught up in dinner preparations and then later eating it that I never thought to take a picture of the cooking or cooked chicken.)

But, how would I tell when it was done? My meat thermometer was somewhere in the Atlantic (or maybe Pacific?) ocean on our shipment containing the vast majority of our kitchen supplies.

Improvisation # 5

Wait till the chicken looks golden and crispy. Pull out the chicken. Cut into the chicken. No pinkness. It’s done.

Amazingly, in spite of all the adventures the chicken turned out great! Not dry, not underdone, not bland, not minty… just right.

It tasted like chicken… really! With a hint of lemon and garlic 🙂

I came, I saw, I conquered.

I can just see some local Singaporean going to the States and buying a chicken. I can imagine the response, “What did they do with the head? Where is it? <Gasp!> I can’t believe they took off the feet! They robbed me of the best part of the chicken.”

Future Chicken Adventure?

Now some thing I haven’t conquered yet is:

No Photoshop required

Yeah, that’s right. The label says “FRESH BLACK CHICKEN.” I’ve had my fill of chicken adventures for a while. The black chicken can stay on the store shelf for now.

It’s a Jungle Out There!

Our trip to the Tree Top Walk

Here in Singapore, Good Friday is a public holiday. This meant we had to do something fun with Andrew’s weekday off 🙂

We walked 10 minutes from our home to where we would catch the bus to the nature reserve. We rode the bus, following along in our handy street map to make sure we got off at the correct stop. We said goodbye to the bus that held the last bit of AC (or AirCon as the locals call Air Conditioning) we were going to see until several hours later that afternoon.

The trail was in a Nature Reserve. As we started out on our walk what struck us most was the sheer size of some of the plants. Palms, ferns, trees and vines seemed to be massive!

It's big, it's green, it's a jungle

This tree reminds me of the Swiss Family Robinson movie

In order to get to the suspension bridge, the piece de resistance of the Tree Top Walk, we had to follow a one-way path up a long and very steep hill. At the top of the hill we crossed paths with an Indian family that had a few young children and a stroller. We would later have pity on the family for all the steps they would need to drag the stroller up and down.

The Bridge!

A modern marvel in the midst of Creation's marvel!

We made it! Enjoying a moment of rest and the view on the bridge.

Andrew testing out the strength of the bridge

If I look sweaty - it's because I am!

They don't call it the Tree Top Walk for no reason

What goes up must come down. Once done with the bridge we had to go through a series of stairs (up and down) and boardwalks through the jungle to get back to the original path we started out on.

Stairs and stairs and more stairs

As we sat down in the shade to get a break from the heat we ate PB&J sandwiches. The flies and bugs seemed to be interested in them too! Sticky – but nourishing.

About 2/3 way through our walk through the jungle we heard the first rumble of thunder.

In the few short weeks we’ve been here we’ve learned not try to predict the weather. There are a few reasons for this: 1) the weather doesn’t vary that much, 2) it’s always about the same: hot, humid, mixed with showers, and 3) see previous two reasons. It’s always humid. It’s always hot. Some days you get by without showers. But when it pours no one is surprised in the least.

A tourguide book on Singapore that I was reading recently noted that locals consider it very shallow to use weather as a conversation topic. No wonder. What are you going to say? “Boy, is it humid today!” To which anyone who has lived here for more than 2 weeks would think, “It’s always humid.”

All of that is to say that when the first rumble of thunder rang out, we couldn’t tell whether it would start pouring momentarily, wait a few hours, or drizzle and pass through without much ceremony.

We continued to walk back, but did not take as much time to read little signs describing the wildlife or different aspects of the nature we were walking by. (We knew there was still a fair possibility of rain.) About an hour away from finishing the walk we continued to pass several people – many families with younger children. Perhaps this was a sign that the locals did not expect it to rain.

But I digress. Back to the hike. For the topic of wildlife:

Though there was supposedly a bit of wildlife in the jungle, I think the animals were smart and tryied not to come out during the heat of the day. We did see a skink and some moths.

Happy to have Andrew's keen eyes

But the funnest animals we saw were monkeys! We saw about 3 groups of monkeys during our hike.

Enjoying the view

This little guy let us get within a few feet of him

Note: When we do an outing like this again, we will bring TWO umbrellas or one LARGE one. One normal sized umbrella is not sufficient to cover both a 6’1” man wearing a backpack and his 5’6” wife while trying to keep the same gait through a narrow path in a jungle.

After this picture, it was raining to hard to capture any more moments on camera

Eventually it was raining so hard that we decided to make a run for the bus stop. Andrew ran without the umbrella. I attempted to run while holding the umbrella. Unfortunately, in order to keep the umbrella upright and not flipped I went slower, and in the process probably became more soaked than Andrew! We arrived at the bus stop wet with both rain and sweat. It was worth it. A hot, sticky, sweaty, and rainy day. Just another day in the jungle.

Easter Cookies

Several years ago I made these cookies while helping out in a Sunday school class. The cookies quickly became favorites of mine, and I began to make them almost every Easter. The recipe and the story that accompanies the cookies are found all over the internet, and I have seen it in more than one forwarded email over the years. I don’t have kids, but I still find meaning in the symbolism wrapped up in the cookies. On the Saturday evening before Easter, I delight in baking these sweet treats. As simple, and maybe childish, as it sounds, it builds anticipation for the following morning. I hope you enjoy these cookies too!

Recipe: Easter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup sugar

Materials

  • zipper baggie  and a wooden spoon or a food processor
  • wax/baking paper
  • Bible

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (this is important, don’t wait till you’re half done with the recipe!)

After Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Crushing the pecans in this recipe represents how Jesus was crushed for our sins.
John 19:1-3 “Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.”
 
Isaiah 53:5  “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

Place the pecans in the zipper baggie. Beat the nuts with a wooden spoon to break them into small pieces. (If you use a food processor to chop the nuts, be careful not to over-chop them into a pulp.)

Smell and taste the Vinegar. While on the cross Christ was thirsty and was given vinegar (or sour wine) to drink.
John 19:28-30 “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Put the 1 teaspoon of vinegar into the mixing bowl.

The eggs in this recipe represent new life. Christ died in order that we would have new and eternal life.
John 10:10-11 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Add the egg whites to the vinegar.

Taste some of the salt. The salt represents the agony and sadness of the story salty tears and sweat that were shed.

Luke 22:44 “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Luke 23:27 “And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.”

Add a pinch of salt to the mixture.

Until now the ingredients are not very appetizing. But there is sweetness. The sugar that is added represents the sweetness of the Easter story. He died because He loves us and does not want us to perish.

John 3:16 “”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Begin mixing with an electric mixer/beaters on high. Gradually add in the 1 cup of sugar. Continue to mix until stiff peaks form and mixture is glossy (may take up to 15 minutes).

The mixture will begin to turn bright white as it is mixed. This white represents the purity of those whose sins have been washed away.

John 3:1-3 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

GENTLY fold in the broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.

The cookie mounds and the oven represent the tomb.

Matthew 27:65-66 “So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.”

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. (Alternatively if you are making a large batch or do not have as much time, you may bake them in the 300F oven for 25 minutes until dry and slightly golden on the bottom. Baking them this way may not produce cookies that are as hollow in the center.)

Read Matthew 27:65-66.

GO TO BED!

On Easter morning, open the oven and eat a cookie.  Notice the cracked surface and take a bite.  The cookies are fluffy and/or hollow!  On the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  The cookies represent the earthquake and the empty tomb.

Matthew 28:1-9 “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.”

International Flag Day

Out of the past 7 days it has rained 6 days. It has also been sunny during part of the day each of those 7 days. The joys of living in a tropical climate: you get the wonderful, sunny, warm weather… and you get sticky weather mixed with the frequent rain showers associated with high level of humidity. My brother, Jehiah, once asked, “Does it really rain every day? That’s what my weather app seems to tell me.” To which I jokingly replied, “Well, it’s always really humid. Once it pass 100% humidity, it rains!”

“Due to its geographical location and maritime exposure, Singapore’s climate is characterized by uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity and abundant rainfall. The average temperature is between 25 degrees Celsius and 31 degrees Celsius. Thunderstorms occur on 40% of all days. Relative humidity is in the range of 70% – 80%. April is the warmest month, January is the coolest month and November is the wettest month.” – From Guide Me Singapore

Because yesterday was a nice sunny day after a string of rainy and stormy days, people decided that it was the perfect day for hanging their international flag. We couldn’t disagree. In fact, since it was a weekend yesterday, more people seemed to be home to fly their international flag than during the middle of the week.

Introducing The International Flag:
This is the apartment building one over from our own.

This is the apartment building one over from our own.

That’s right, the common clothes drying pole is known affectionately (and informally) by some around here as the international flag.

In celebration of this impromptu holiday, we bought two extra flag poles and increased our total ranks to four. We finished an astounding 2.5 loads of laundry. We hung our own international flags (unfortunately they dried and we took ours inside before I thought to take a picture).

The typical length of one of these plastic covered bamboo poles is 9 ft.

I am amazed at the elderly and feeble women and men that I see daily reaching out of their kitchen with this long pole laden with wet clothes. They drop it into its holder with ease and grace. It’s not as easy or as graceful as it seems when I’ve attempted the task. You have to hold the entire pole outside of the window before you can drop it into it’s holder. To make matters worse, you must reach out about another foot past the windows edge and angle the pole just right so that it can slide into the holder.

It is an art form.

I am still learning the art. But, once I’ve learned the art, perhaps my arms will be a bit stronger? Andrew also tried out the art yesterday and found it to be harder than the other local pros make it seem.

As hard or as easy as the art may be, we will show our loyalty to the international flag and continue to wave it proudly from our kitchen window.

Side note: you know those other six days this week that it was raining? Invariably someone isn’t at home when the rain starts and their international flag meant to dry out the clothes in the sun, instead becomes soaked. I feel bad for the few that have this misfortune befall them. All that work to wash the clothes. The marvelous spin cycle on the washer machine. All for naught. <sigh> I’m sure one of these days a sudden tropical rain will catch me off guard as well.

Interesting Sights

My newest sister-in-law, Selam, recently asked me, “What’s the most interesting thing you saw since you arrived (pictures are plus)? ;)”

My initial reaction to the question is that there are so many interesting sights and experiences that I cannot pick just one that stands above the rest. I thought Selam would not mind me making a blog post of some of my answers 🙂 So here some of the sights are in no particular order. Some are just beautiful. Some are expected; some are not. Some are cool. Some are just… well… bizarre. But they are all interesting to me.

Interesting: Beautiful

Sentosa

The week before Andrew started his job we made an effort to do some sight seeing while we could still enjoy the weekday crowds. One of the places we had the opportunity to see was Sentosa. This tiny island is connected to the main island of Singapore by a boardwalk.

The boardwalk into Sentosa island. (Not the best panorama my camera has done...)

Just another day in Singapore

Tropical Paradise

Singapore in its element - water and palm trees.

Interesting: Expected

Marina Bay Sands

It looks like a ship in the sky!

The biggest cantilever building in the world. I expected this because my architect brother, Nathanael, talked quite a bit about this neat building before I even left for Singapore 🙂

A dazzling display of architecture and lights

Interesting: Unexpected

In this category would fall our pink apartment. (See our earlier blog post here.) What can I say? We just weren’t expecting so much pink.

Short bicycles

At first I didn’t get why some bicycles were this way. But then Andrew pointed out that it makes sense. When they are built in this smaller manner they can be brought into elevators and stored much more easily than the typical bike.

Interesting: Cool

Yakinoka Rice Burgers – from Mos Burger

Mmmm.... Japanese style burger done right here in Singapore.

The Southernmost Point of Continental Asia

The Bridge Leading onto the tiny island off of Sentosa known as the southernmost point of Continental Asia.

Interesting: Bizarre

We were first introduced to the “bathroom=shower stall” in our hotel room. After one weekend of apartment searching we discovered it was the norm. Our current bathrooms (again, see our blog about our apartment) have no tubs or curtains or anything separating our showers from the rest of the bathroom.

Yellow Raspberries

In a local grocery store. Too pricey to try.

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