Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hakka abacus beads from scratch

Inspired by my mother, I decided to take on the challenge of pulling the classic Hakka abacus beads dish from scratch.

This is my version of the recipe (adapted from My Kitchen Snippets)

To make the dough for the abacus beads:

450 grams taro/yam, cleaned, peeled and chopped
170 grams tapioca starch
½ teaspoon salt

Steam taro until soft (about 20 minutes) and mash while still hot. Mix in tapioca starch and salt. Allow mixture to cool slightly then knead to form a soft dough.DSC01980

Adjust consistency by adding a little water if it’s too dry or more tapioca starch if it’s too wet/sticky.

Pinch off marble sized pieces of the dough, roll into small balls, then press gently in the middle to make a small indentation.

Bring a pot of water to boil, then drop in beads one by one. The beads will rise to the surface once they are cooked. Removed them with a slotted spoon and set aside.

For the stir-fry, the ingredients can be varied to your preference, but here is a general guide on what you can include:


2 tbsp oil
2 shallots – thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic – chopped
1 chicken breast – diced
1 small carrot – diced finely
4-6 Chinese mushrooms – soaked until soft and sliced thinly
2 pieces of dried wood ears – soaked and thinly sliced
¼ cup dried shrimp – soaked and pounded lightly
Some spring onions – chopped finely for garnishing
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
3 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
¼ cup water
½ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in wok/frying pan and stir-fry shallots and garlic for a few seconds. Add chicken, mushrooms, dried wood ears and dried shrimp and fry for a few minutes until meat is cooked. Add abacus beads and sauces/seasoning and fry everything together. Dish out and garnish with spring onions.


P.S. More of my other recipes posted here

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gardening experience with Nathan

DSC01986Last week on one of my SAHM days, I decided to take advantage of the free school holiday activities at the nearby shopping centre.

The highlight for that week was a Dirt Girl World gardening activity – each child got to decorate their own pot and plant a little seedling to take home.

As a general rule I do not like gardening. But I thought it was a good opportunity for Nathan to explore the wonderful world of dirt and soil without me having to worry about cleaning up the mess afterward.

Here are some photos I snapped at the activity…

This is little oregano seedling I chose for him to plant


He helped to scoop the soil with a trowel and gently pat down the little seedling the assistant placed in the container

Nathan getting engrossed in marker colour choices

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Once we arrived home, we transferred the seedling into our garden
(as advised by the assistants at the activity corner)

The transplanting of the seedling to our garden was not part of my original plan. But I did want to give the baby oregano a chance instead of just dumping it aside. Nathan wanted to “help” so things got a little messy there, but I bore with it for his sake and the little seedling’s.


I even put my (*gasp*) bare hands into the earth to position the seedling and pat the soil around it properly. The soil felt cool and crumbly in my hands – the texture was not too different from brown sugar and flour. If I could rub butter in flour, I could handle this. For a brief moment, I had a glimpse of the thrill those gardening advocates feel fingering the cool earth around their flowers, shrubs and trees. But it was just for a moment, I don’t think I’ll be adding gardening to my list of hobbies just now.

All in all, it was a great first time gardening experience for Nathan, with a bonus addition to our little herb plot.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Early thoughts on potty training

DSC01964So today out of the blue during lunch, Nathan pauses mid-bite and says to me “poo-poo”. Now he’s learnt how to say “poo-poofor a while now to tell me when he’d done a poo. So I get up to sniff his bum and peek inside his nappy. No poo.

After a minute or so, he paused and called out “poo-poo” again – a little more earnestly this time. But after another check, still no sign of poo. I was a little puzzled. Then on a whim, I decided to whisk out the potty set I had and plonk him down on it.

He was midway through a poo as I plonked him down, but he managed to make a small deposit successfully.

I cheered and hoorayed enthusiastically after he finished and let him examine his poo afterwards. He was extremely fascinated with it.


My potty training attempts have been fairly erratic over the past few months since I got this potty set. I had read up on early potty training methods, but always found it challenging to make Nathan sit still in the potty whilst waiting for something to happen.

I decided not to force it and just see how things went. It would be pretty stressful constantly hovering over my child and nagging him if he needs to use the potty – especially if he has no inkling of what on earth I’m talking about.

I once read a quote that said “…in the long run, it doesn’t matter if they are toilet trained at 6 months or 3 years… eventually they will be trained”. Maybe he’s ready now or will be soon. In any case, I’ll take it one step at a time and let him learn at his own pace.

I might wait until the weather turns warmer so he can run around in plain underwear and won’t have to fiddle around with long trousers/pants and layers of clothing. Plus managing the increase in laundry (due to accidents) would be less of a hassle in sunny weather.

In the meantime, I’ll be reading up and getting all geared up for the plunge. If you have any thoughts or tips on the whens and hows, do share!

Some interesting articles I’ve found on toilet training:

Saturday, July 07, 2012

New toys

Filler post sharing some new things that I recently received…

#1. Baby Beehinds wetbags from Bean Sprout Bubba.


#2. Cute outfits for Nathan – pressie from a friend’s recent trip to Thailand. Each set features the most adorable little tails. Perfect for when summer comes round.

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#3. New phone courtesy of my mobile phone provider as a reward for renewing my contract with them. Been very occupied exploring and downloading new apps and tools.