Related Posts with Thumbnails

Monday, August 31, 2015


It was a matter of time that a troupe of monkeys moved into the copse of trees at the end of the road. They've been sneaking in and out of the neighbours' kitchens but have yet to come into ours. They are a little wary of Milo, and they can't figure their way past our wrought iron grilles.

They climb high and leap far. So, even up on the 3rd storey, the windows need to be kept closed.

Milo goes absolutely crazy nuts when they come by and hiss at him from the neighbour's awning.

Ashbolt Elderflower Cordial

Picture taken from HERE.

The elderflower comes the Elder plant. Its leaves, roots and stems are toxic. The flowers and berries are edible. 

The pharmacies sell a preparation of the elderberry called Sambucol. Taken at the start of the flu, it is reported to help people get better faster. Taken as a supplement, it is reported to stave off flus.

The elderflower relieves phlegm very effectively. I have personal experience of that. After a flu, I tend to retain phlegm for weeks. Elderflower gets rid of that phlegm very well for me.

I have tried both elderberry and elderflower. I much prefer the taste of the elderflower cordial. Taken cold, its floral scent and citrus notes are refreshing on a hot day. Taken hot, it is a very comforting drink to sip in bed, and it is really good for relieving phlegm. It is medicine that tastes so good!

I love it so much that I even add it into vinaigrettes. Guests dribble it on and at the first bite, their eyes widen and they ask "What is in this salad sauce?"

Where to buy?
If it is just the taste you want, then head on down to Ikea. Their food shop sells a bottle called the Saft Flader. Else, you can also buy elderflower cordial from Marks & Spencer at Wheelock Place. However, these 2 preparations are not very effective when it comes to phlegm. 1 bottle is less than $15.

The preparation that tastes good and is medicinally effective comes from Ashbolt Farm in Tasmania. They deliver in boxes of Threes. If you add shipping, one bottle costs $35. 

How I Found Out About Elderflower
I first drank elderflower in Hobart Open Air Market, Tasmania... a hot preparation with a slice of lemon, on a cold day. The  drink sent a warm tingle right through to my toes and I went back for another styrofoam cup worth of it. After that, I made it my mission to load my luggage with as many bottles of the stuff as I could manage. It was delightful to see the faces of guests and friends light up when they took their first sip - unfamiliar taste but so very good!

After that, I mucked around with Ikea's and Marks & Spencer's versions. Meanwhile, I pined for the Ashbolt preparation. I even tried growing my own elderflower in order to make my own cordial. See recipe HERE. Then I found out that it will never flower in the tropics. The plant must experience sub zero temperatures to be induced to flower.

Finally, I took the plunge and ordered 18 bottles from Ashbolt Farm to be freighted in for friends and myself, at $35/bottle (including shipping).

It is well worth it.

I had phlegm last week and took one mug a day, hot. No more phlegm!

Precious bottles!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Home Made Kefir Cream Cheese

See How To Make Milk Kefir here. See the effects of a kefir Healing Crisis HERE. Once you have strained out the kefir grains, add a half teaspoon of salt to 2 cups of kefir. Sterilise a cheese cloth with boiling water. Let dry in the sun.

Repurpose an old dimsum basket as a sieve. 
Lay the dry cheese cloth over it and pour in the salted kefir.

Stand it in a deep bowl. Close the lid of the dimsum basket. 
Fold the cheese cloth neatly over the lid.

Let stand for 24 hours. The liquid part of the kefir (called the whey) will strain off as a transparent fluid with a yellow tinge. The whey is very nutritious so I will add that to smoothies. The curds are left inside the cheese cloth. The cheese is ready when it can easily be lifted off the cheese cloth.

Spoon the cheese into a bowl and enjoy. It slathers well on ribeye steak. It makes a good dip for crispy roast pork. It is delicious in lieu of butter on toast. You can liven it up with herbes de provence, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala or cinnamon powder.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What Kefir Did For Me

Please read up on Healing Crisis (or Herxheimer Reaction) before you start your kefir journey.

Longtime blog readers may be aware that I have been struggling with hormonal deficiencies for years now. Some people, with the same problems, have approached me to ask how to manage the condition. I have never been able to help. After all, I am not a medical doctor. I told them to see an endocrinologist.

Hopefully, if such people read this, Petunia can finally share something helpful to you. If you are one of those, do leave a comment so I know this post is helpful to you.

Cortisol and thyroid meds are a way of coping but they have not been a perfect way. A healthy body has a self-regulating system for hormones. I needed to assess and predict when to take and how much. Very often, I made mistakes. Once (only once) I overdosed on my thyroid meds and went near a thyroid storm. More often than not, I under-dosed, which meant that I was still prone to sleepiness and would crash out after a more than usually strenuous day.

And what for Petunia is a strenuous day, is just a normal day for everyone else.

Kefir Helped Rebalance My Hormones
I have been on milk kefir and water kefir for 18 days and...
I haven't taken any meds for FIVE days!
Ohhhh... please don't ask me how it works. I really don't know. And errrr... what works for me, may not work for other people with hormone conditions. So, please don't stop your meds until your blood tests come back ok.

Kefir Got Rid of My Bacterial Sore Throat
The Husband passed me a sore throat. His sore throat responded very well to sips of green tea (every 15 minutes). Green tea (like chrysanthemum tea) is a natural antibiotic (see HERE). I can take neither green tea nor chrysanthemum tea because I have gut candidiasis ( a type of yeast infection of the intestines). Anything antibiotic that goes into my stomach aggravates my gut candidiasis.

Anyway, I decided to sip water kefir every 15 minutes. It worked! My sore throat got better. What is most amazing is that it went away within 2 days of sipping water kefir. Normally, it takes ages (and 2 or 3 courses of antibiotics) for me to get well from a sore throat.

Again, please don't ask me how it works.

Kefir Got Rid of My Candidiasis
I think that the root of my health problems (hormonal imbalance and poor immunity) lie in my gut candidiasis. In recent years, as my body weakened, I experience yeast infections in different parts of the body. I applied milk kefir topically and the yeast infection cleared up and out.

I cannot express the relief and joy I feel. These are recurrent infections. It does not matter WHAT the doctor does or what meds I ingest. These infections keep coming back. Do you know how stressful it is to fight these terrorists of the body? They just don't die.

Ok... this one, I pretty much THINK I know how it works. It works by re-introducing beneficial bacteria and yeasts into my gut. Kefir's beneficial bacteria and yeasts kill the harmful ones. See HERE.

Kefir, A Life Changer
If not for my friend, IP, I would never have even known about kefir. If not for my curiosity, I would not have even tried homemade kefir. After all, I make yoghurt, so why not kefir? 

What started as an interesting and curious kitchen/culinary experiment has become a veritable lifeline towards a high energy and more productive lifestyle.

I am amazed because it was not what I expected.

Plenty More Experiments
I have many more things I wanna do with kefir... like maybe get Smelly Boy to use it under his armpits (to control body odour) and to slather it on his face (for acne). Does it help dandruff? What about cuts disinfection? Tomorrow, I am going to make labne with kefir.

I started with half a mug (with 1 teaspoon of milk kefir grains). The milk kefir grains grew quite fast so I can now make 4 whole mugs. Grandma was tentative and sceptical at first, but after 4 days, she said, "I feel a need to take it before bed." When she came over to get her half mug yesterday, I swear that she looked like Milo waiting for a treat. Last night, I blended our milk kefir with mangosteens. It was delicious!

The Husband scrunched up his nose when he first had water kefir. Yesterday, he brought home 3kg of mangosteens and 2 kg of longans. He then requested that I make longan water kefir and mangosteen water kefir.The urn on the right holds coconut water kefir. Coconut water kefir tastes a bit like champagne. I might try grape juice kefir to see if I can make something that tastes like a Moscato or a sweet Riesling.

If you want to buy kefir, go HERE

However, it is said that mass produced kefir in USA does not compare well with artisanal kefir. The mass produced kefir has additives that replicate the kefir taste without the high count of live organisms. Additives also stabilise the product for longer shelf life. Natural kefir is a naturally unstable product. It is fermenting with every minute that passes.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 P6 Prelims: Top Marks in Oral

I will update this post as and when the results trickle in.

I am so embarrassed. This email is full of careless mistakes, which is this child's particular Achilles heel because she comes from a Chinese speaking home. Nonetheless, she was still able to do very well in PSLE Prelim Oral.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

14 Aug Positive Teaching Participant Feedback

I don't give session participants forms to fill with Likert scales. It is tedious for parents to fill out forms. Instead, I ask them to write one thing they liked and one thing they did not like about the programme.

Interested parents can sign up HERE.

What They Liked

What They Disliked

19 August HOT Skills for Parents Participant Feedback

The last time I ran HOT Skills was in 2013. I changed some things in this new run. The participants seem to like it! 

I don't give session participants forms to fill with Likert scales. It is tedious for parents to fill out forms. Instead, I ask them to write one thing they liked and one thing they did not like about the programme.

Interested parents can sign up HERE.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Olaprice & Street Deal LEGAL Scams

Olaprice and Street Deal advertise extensively on Facebook. They are one and the same, with 2 faces. Fortunately, I did not get caught. This guy did, however. He will explain in detail how the scam works.

I will share my own experience.

I was shopping for a travel blender and saw a FABULOUS deal on Olaprice. I clicked to buy. Then, I looked for a PayPal payment option. Unless it is a website I am familiar with, or that friends have recommended, I will stop short if I cannot find a PayPal option.

So, I stopped short and googled. I found THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS.

So, be warned. Do not buy from unknown vendors with your credit card. Reputable ones almost always have a PayPal payment option or a 3rd party one.

Coconut Water Kefir

If the internet is anything to go by, coconut kefir has miraculous properties. See HERE. I am intrigued so I shall experiment to see if the health benefits are as claimed. Please also read up on the effects of a Healing Crisis HERE. Due to the effects of the Healing Crisis, please start drinking kefir in small amounts (e.g., 2 tablespoons a day only).

Coconut water with kefir grains inside a porcelain jar. Ferment for ONLY 8 hours. Beyond that, the water kefir grains will be starved of sugar and die. Also, the same grains cannot be used to make coconut kefir everyday. You will need to alternate between coconut water and raw sugar water. The grains feed and grow better on raw sugar. If you feed them coconut water everyday, they will slowly starve and die.

I have decided to use porcelain jars instead of glass because porcelain withstands heat better. I broke one glass container by sterilising it twice daily to make 2 batches of kefir a day.

The milk kefir are in these covered jars too. The fermentation releases gases, so these porcelain covers allow gas to seep out. Glass bottles with tight lids may break from the pressure from the gas build up. One cannot use an open cup either because insects get attracted to the fermentation and try to climb in.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

DB Bistro Moderne, Daniel Boulud

We set off in the morning for the Art Science Museum, intent on a day of intellectual stimulation. Along the way to a morning of serious study and brain food, we were waylaid by some restaurants.  Yes, the restaurants sang enchanted songs to our tummies.

There was 
(1) The Bread Street Kitchen (by Gordon Ramsay) and 
(2) DB Bistro Moderne (by Daniel Boulud). 

Both are chefs with 3 Michelin stars.

I am enamoured of Gordon Ramsay so we walked the whole length of the mall to The Bread Street Kitchen. The restaurant spanned 2 floors. I pushed open the door on the lower floor and enquired about the menu. A friendly chef (Asian) smiled and rummaged about for a menu to show me. A friendly waiter (again Asian... with a sincere smile) explained that the menus were kept on the upper storey. 

He lead me up the stairs. 

Upstairs, an Australian lady, with no smile, looked at me as if I had committed the worst faux pas in the world by venturing into her restaurant before opening time. It was 11.15 am. To be fair to me...

(1) The entrance was not locked.
(2) No sign was hung out saying that the restaurant was closed.

The Australian lady passed me the restaurant menu, and told me to read it outside the door. She herded me out with some repressed irritation, and  locked it with a loud metallic click. I stood stupidly outside holding the menu, the loud metallic click telling me that I was not welcomed. She held court within with a small staff of waiters.

I felt like a beggar waiting for the Soup Kitchen to open.

There was no smile. There was no, "My apologies Madam, but right now we are closed and I wonder if I might escort you out the door for you to peruse the menu." There was no, "Why don't you stand here right by the balustrade and I will go back in to do a pre-opening briefing for my staff? I will leave the door open and would you kindly pass the menu back to me when you are done?"

Nope. No manners at all.

I wondered how to return her the menu. I stood stupidly outside for a bit before I slipped the menu under the glass door, where an Asian waiter picked it up and beamed me a smile. I was incensed to be treated as a 2nd class citizen by an Australian in my homeland. My country pays your salary, dear little Ms Australian.

Anyhow, I decided to go try out DB Bistro Moderne, by Daniel Boulud. The service and the food there, more than made up for that Australian gal's very poor manners. Every single Filipino staff smiled and was very gracious.  They referred to us as "Madame" and "Monsieur". It was like eating in France (even though it really wasn't French food). 

This is also the FIRST restaurant in Singapore where the lady actually beamed at me when I said I could not eat gluten. "We have many options for you, and we will help you choose!" I felt so safe with her! For me, Western food in Singapore is dangerous. There is too much hidden gluten. It was a very pleasant surprise to feel safe eating there.

At the end of the meal, we were all so stuffed that we skipped the Art Science Museum. Instead of an afternoon of intellectual pursuit, we indulged in gluttony. Siiiiiigh!

I still love Gordon Ramsay but I think I will go to his restaurants when we next travel. Definitely not the Singapore one. Ever.

It says French Bistro but it serves New England fare.

There were quite many people in the restaurant when we arrived.

Oysters from Maine, USA.

They actually gave me 2 gluten free sesame seed buns! I am sooooooooo going back to this restaurant for ang moh food. I have not had ang moh food out for ever so long. It is not safe for me to eat in ang moh restaurants because there is hidden gluten in so many dishes. Very often, the wait staff are not familiar with the dishes enough to advise which ones are gluten free. It is just better not to risk it.

The Petit Seafood Platter.

New England Seafood Stew.

Seafood Pasta.

Croque Madame (this is French)

The Takeaway bag looked like shopping bag. So nice!

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake.

Decaf Latte