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Friday, October 27, 2017

Cashew Cream Cheese and Cashew Cream Sauce

Vegan cashew cream sauce on gluten free gnocchi.

Cashew cream on buckwheat crackers.

Thanks to going 90% vegetarian, my LDL-C (bad cholesterol) dropped from 5.66 mmol/L to 4.26 mmol/L in 3 months. My HDL-C (good cholesterol) dropped from 1.36 to 1.19.

I decided to explore dairy free alternatives too. After all, I learn more as a cook and if plant-based creaminess can be achieved, why not? So, I experimented with cashew cheese. It is mind-blowingly good! Melted into a sauce for pasta, it really gives normal carbonara sauce a good bang for the buck, minus the animal fat.

HERE is the recipe.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Farting Drunk

When most children reach Primary 4, they develop some sense of decorum. Not this one. He farted loudly in class one day, which melted all the other children into giggles. Apparently, he enjoyed being able to make his friends laugh so the week after, he farted and farted and farted in class.

Loudly farting with great aplomb is such a socially unacceptable behaviour that the other children laughed embarrassedly, and my facilitator was at a loss how to address the issue with the child. After all, some people are naturally gassy and they cannot help it. Besides, everyone farts right? How do you scold a child who has bad digestion? He cannot help it, can he?

It got to a point where the child was doing it on purpose. He enjoyed being the centre of attention. He was starting to irritate his friends with his loud anal explosions. It took some firm counselling to put it across to the child that Dr. Pet's classes are not communal toilets à la ancient romans. The old convivial practice where upstanding Roman Senators would adjourn to the communal toilet, seat themselves nicely and discuss important political decisions to the accompaniment of loud bodily exertions from the other end died with the ancient Romans. Thankfully so. Else, I imagine that I might be conducting class with students on potties in order to socialise them into the practice of making important decisions whilst shitting together.

Lesson learnt. Problem solved. The child in question learnt that loud melodious farting worthy of the best operatic traditions was to be done in private and preferably in the toilet, or somewhere outside where there are strong monsoon winds.

I sighed with pride. I had taught a little boy good manners. From fart-itesse to politesse, as it were. I sighed too soon.

I arrived in class to the sight of the child's beatific smile. He looked very happy. He swayed from side to side. Then, he pointed an unsteady finger at me and grinned joyfully, saying, "Dr. Pet, you are like gollum today." I wasn't quite sure how to respond and what was wrong with this child. I looked at him and then left the room.

As class progressed, his exuberance irritated his classmates. He kept telling one that she was wrong. When the facilitator confirmed the answers, he pointed a finger at her and said, "I told you so!" When he got a difficult question right, he punched the air with a loud "Yes!" This prompted another very irritated child to say, "Ok! Now you can apply for a President's Scholarship."

I was mystified by what I saw on the CCTV. He looked drunk and immensely jolly.

It turned out that he was, in fact, drunk. He had taken dragonfruit enzyme just before class and gotten a nice shot of alcohol into his system, which relaxed all his inhibitions. As such, he went from politesse to simple pest.

Moral of the story: Do not feed your children alcohol before class.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Desmond Kuek Should Resign?

Somebody sent me the above picture. At first, I laughed. It was such an ingenious piece of art. Then, I became sad.

Wreckage at the Bottom of Ocean
If truth be told, Desmond Kuek is not capsizing a healthy ship. Desmond Kuek took charge of the SMRT ship at a time when the SMRT ship was already at the bottom of the ocean. He has spent the last 5 years raising it from the depths. We all know that raising a ship from the depths is an exercise fraught with danger. Lui Tuck Yew's political career died in that process.

Khaw Boon Wan saw his friend Lui Tuck Yew's career go down into the depths of the ocean. Yet, Khaw bravely took on the Ministry of Transport. Surely he must know it is political suicide? At the time Khaw took the helm at the Ministry of Transport, the SMRT ship was halfway resurrected from the depths. Under Khaw's watch, 2 men died on the tracks and a flood overwhelmed the system. This did not happen on the watch of the Naughty Saw Phaik Hua and whomever the forgettable-did-nothing-to-prevent-problem Minister was at that time. It happened on the watch of a man (Khaw) who dove in to raise the ship from the depths.


Really, if you leave the SMRT wreckage sitting at the bottom of the ocean, nothing will go wrong.

At most, there is no SMRT ship lohhhh... then, people will walk, cycle, drive to work lohhhh... They have to go to work mah... They will find a way. Just leave the SMRT ship to rot quietly, its decks colonised by fish and coral. Why not? The SMRT railway tracks can be turned into cycling paths. Its tunnels can be used as storage or underground homes. Imagine living in an underground bunker home surrounded by a gigantic fish tank on all sides. You look out your windows and see blue water and fish. Fully private and so exclusive!

However, when a ship is halfway up towards the ocean surface, that is when things can go wrong spectacularly. Things have. Men have died... a flood and pregnant women walked on train tracks in deep, dark, dank tunnels. All that was laid at the door of one poor man - Desmond Kuek. If he had stayed a Permanent Secretary, he would today, still have his stellar reputation as a committed and loyal government servant. He can hold his head high in front of his children, wife and relatives.

He took on the challenge of raising the SMRT ship from the depths. As a result, his name has been dragged through the mud. His reputation is in tatters. He will be remembered in history as a spectacular overpaid FAILURE.

The whole world clamours for his resignation. The whole world wants to see him bow. Frankly, I find this bowing business super ridiculous. How many of you, when you make mistakes at work, need to bow to your boss? You lost a deal. You bowed to your boss? You sent out a wrong email. You also bowed? Why not prostrate yourself too? They do it in Japan, you know. Are you Japanese?

We forget that Rescue Missions are those most fraught with danger. If you don't rescue, nothing will go wrong. If you choose to rescue, anything can go wrong.

Desmond Kuek's Hard Work, Another's Glory
Believe you me. The next person who takes the helm of the SMRT is one lucky person. He/she will have glory poured on him/her that rightly belongs to Desmond Kuek. This is because in the past 5 years, Desmond Kuek has worked hard and well. The ship is almost reaching the surface. You cannot tell? Nobody has been paying attention to reports on how many kms of sleepers have been replaced, how much of the 3rd rail has been replaced, how much of the signaling system has been renewed? Whomever replaces Desmond Kuek merely is in the right place, at the right time.

Retrench or Re-educate
I saw people complain that American CEOs have 9 months to change the culture of a company. Ahhhh... but consider this. American MNCs are notorious for retrenching people. It is easy to change a culture when you choose to hire and fire. When Desmond Kuek first replaced SMRT Senior Management with people he thought had the right attitude, the whole world excoriated him. Look now at the abuse heaped upon Ng Yat Chung because of the SPH retrenchments. If cannot retrench, the only way to change a culture from sloppy to high performance, is to re-educate sloppy people.

It is very hard to do that. I know this from experience.

Parents entrust me their children to teach. Necessarily, their children imbibe their parents' values. In some families, people are just sloppy. Everything is sloppy except their clothes. For some reason, they always dress well. The parents are sloppy and the children are sloppy too. When these children do HW for me, they are sloppy. Week after week, HW comes in without full stops and in incomplete sentences. In cases where the parents share my values, I can change the child. In cases where the parents do not share my values, I can do nothing but refuse to teach the child.

It is close to impossible to change a sloppy adult.

So, Desmond Kuek cannot retrench staff BUT he must miraculously change the company culture from ultra sloppy to ultra high performing, via re-education in just 9 months. If you can do it then why aren't you the CEO of an American MNC? If you can't, then why abuse Desmond Kuek?

For those of you who think that Desmond Kuek should have retrenched people so that you can get to work on time, think a bit about the lives of those who work in SMRT - the old technicians, the old managers, the old station staff. They all have dependents - children, wives and parents. In some cases, they are the sole breadwinners. In the wider scheme of things, does getting to work on time measure up to the intensity of pain each of these old timers (and their families) will go through if retrenching was done so that Desmond Kuek would have a shortcut to glory? Is it not better to re-educate, and only get rid of those who stubbornly refuse to change?

Re-education takes time.

Bullies! Bullies! Bullies!
People, it is nothing short of BULLYING that we are doing. We are bullying men who put their entire lives' STERLING REPUTATIONS in jeopardy (eyes wide shut) to help resuscitate the SMRT wreckage lying at the bottom of the ocean. We are bullying men with lifetimes of sterling public service. Khaw turned around MoH and MND. He is the reason why I can walk into Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and receive a quality of healthcare that people in England envy. When I visit my public healthcare oncologist, the waiting room has apples. In many public hospitals around the world, the waiting room has mould. Yet, it looks likely that Khaw too is headed towards an early political death. Khaw will be remembered as a failure too.

The person who made the picture above is a gifted artist. Why not use your gifting to uplift and encourage instead of bully?

I think people are such hypocrites. When Lui Tuck Yew left politics, people lamented - the same people who abused him whilst he was in office were suddenly full of kindness and compassion. So now what? You wanna chase away Khaw Boon Wan and Desmond Kuek too, so that you can show more hypocritical kindness and compassion? Wouldn't a change in leadership jeopardise the SMRT recovery at a time when the ship is so close to surfacing as would triply benefit from a steady hand?

For the Record
Whatever the public record states about these 2 men, I want to leave a trace on the internet that celebrates both men as Lions among men, and modern day Heroes. We are blessed to have such men among us, not that we deserve them.

More HERE.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gluten Free Onsen Eggs Benedict

Since it is close to impossible to get gluten free eggs benedict, we decided to have an Outside Breakfast at home. I put in extra effort to make a pretty display.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Blue pea flower and fruit salad

After making nasi ulam HERE, my garden opens up whole vistas of new opportunities for yumminess. Over time, I had collected various ginger plants. I never thought of eating the leaves. Along with the curry plant, the kedongdong, the piperomia, the various ginger leaves can really liven up a plain salad.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Nasi Ulam

1) Kencur rhizome or sand ginger (HERE)
2) Kunyit rhizome or turmeric (HERE)
3) Limau purut leaves or kaffir lime (HERE)
4) Bunga kantan or torch ginger flower (HERE)
5) Kedongdong leaves (HERE). Use the very young leaves.
6) Pudina leaves or mint leaves (HERE)
7) Limau kasturi or calamondin lime (HERE)
8) Daun shiso or perilla leaves (HERE)
9) Daun ketumbar or coriander leaves (HERE)
10) Daun kemangi or thai basil leaves (HERE)
11) Daun kari or curry leaves (HERE). Use the very young leaves.
12) Daun serai (HERE). Use only the tender hearts.
13) Dried prawns. Toast and blend into a powder. Then toast again.
14) Kacang botol or winged beans (HERE)
15) Turmeric leaf

You need to make a sambal belacan accompaniment - HERE.

I am sorry there are no proportions. Simply taste the various leaves and roots. Add more of those you like and less of those you dislike. Omit those you really cannot stand. Normally, people add ulam rajah (King's salad) but mehhhh... I don't like the taste of that.

I cannot believe I grew up in Singapore and never fell in love with nasi ulam. I have had it 3 times this week.