lundi, mars 13, 2006

Spiced Banana Cake, Nasi Kuning, Indonesian Chicken Curry and Tammy NYP

I made a Spiced Banana Cake on Sunday. For three reasons. 1stly because I bought 2 kgs of bananas as they were cheaper than if I've bought only 1,5. Not that I even needed 1,5 in the 1st place, of course.

2ndly because I was invited to lunch at a new friend's place (though I planned to bring Nasi Kuning and Chicken curry, not cake).

3rdly because I was in a nostalgic phase.

Some of my confidantes may already know that I've been going around harassing some of my former lecturers and schoolmates and those I couldn't find yet I'm still spending time trying to do so.

And why is that so?

Not because I have too much time on my hands (I'm not THAT old yet), but I just woke up a week ago and realised with a start that I have left Primary school 22 years ago, Junior College 16 years ago, Graduate school 7 years ago...Oh my God we are talking in decades now, this is depressing.

I mean I don't feel much older than I did yesterday and the day before and so on. I am fat nowadays but then so was I when I was 12.

Anyway, that gave me a desire to find out how certain people are doing, if they're still alive etc.

And to cut a long story short, as I was walking home with my 2kgs of bananas and wondering who was going to eat them all, I suddenly saw myself as a 15 year old (visions of my lost youth come flashing back pretty often nowadays) mashing bananas with a fork with my Home Economics teacher (I can still remember her face but not her name) looking over my shoulder. Voilà the birth of my delicious Banana Cake :

Cream 250g of softened butter with 125g of sugar and 2 tbsp of condensed milk. Add in a pinch of salt, a tsp of vanilla essence, 2-3 tsp of cinnamon powder, a pinch each of ground cloves and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk 5 eggs with 125g of sugar till light and creamy. Then fold in the egg mixture to the butter mixture. Add in 250g of mashed bananas and the juice of half an orange. Lastly gently fold in about 180g of self-raising flour. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 150ºC for about 40-45 minutes.

I didn't do anything special but you could always glaze your cake with a brown sugar-butter-grated coconut mix that you pour over the cake and caramelise for a few minutes under the hot grill of your oven.

In addition to the cake, I also made a Nasi Kuning and an Indonesian Chicken Curry to eat it with. One good thing about growing old outside Singapore is that after you've gotten over the shock of discovering that meat and vegetables are not bred and grown in supermarkets, you took to the discovery that you could make some of your favourite dishes yourself (because you could no longer tah pow* them from anywhere) with much bravado and started making them like you've been making them all your life. I haven't gotten as far as growing my own veggies and breeding my own pigs though. As it is, I manage to kill even cactuses...

About Nasi Kuning. Make a stock with a 400g can of coconut milk, 1 chicken stock cube (fresh lagi better needless to say), 1 tsp of salt. In a non-stick casserole, heat some butter or ghee (not high heat or butter will burn and turn black) and fry 2 onions (sliced), 1 thumb sized bashed galanga, 2 cloves of bashed garlic, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 stalks of bashed lemon grass, a few cardamons, cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1,5 tsp Turmeric powder till fragrant. Add in washed rice (400g) and stir fry. Add in juice from a small lime and the coconut-chicken stock. Add in one pandan leaf and then cover the casserole. Turn up the heat to boil the rice and once the mixture starts to boil and you can see that the rice is half-cooked, lower the heat to the lowest possible and just let it cook in its own steam.

The rice should be dry and grainy and I served it presented in the shape of a cone and accompanied by fried shallots, roasted grated coconut and roasted almond flakes.

My version of the curry is not the watery sort you usually eat in Indonesia because I do not like the watery sort. Besides I have enough money to pay electricity so I usually just let my curry simmer.

First my chicken breasts or thighs are marinated for a few hours in salt, pepper, generous amounts of turmeric powder, cumin powder, cinnamon powder, coriander powder, paprika powder, dried chilli flakes and a pinch each of ground cloves and nutmeg.

Then I blend 3 onions, a thumb-sized piece of ginger and 4-5 cloves of garlic with a bit of water to make a paste.

In a non-stick casserole, I heat some oil and fry a large sliced onion, 1 stick of bashed lemon grass, 1 thumb-sized piece of bashed galanga, 1 cinnamon stick, a few star anises, bashed cardamon pods and whole cloves, 1 bay leaf together with my marinated chicken pieces till everything is brown and fragrant. Remove the chicken and put it aside.

In the casserole where the spices are waiting all brown and fragrant, lower the heat and add in the paste. Stir fry for a minute and then add in 400g of coconut milk, an equal amount of chicken stock. Cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes or however long it suits you.

10-15 minutes before serving, put the chicken back in, add a few lime leaves, fresh coriander leaves and a few tbsp of roasted grated coconut. Simmer until you're ready to serve.

With the food out of the way, let's go back to my nostalgic phase. Now that I think about it, it could have something to do with the Tammy NYP affair that I've heard echos of in the last week. In case there are people who are even more out of touch with happenings in Singapore than Yours Truly, Tammy is a 17 year-old NY Poly girl who had mobile phone videos of her love-making scenes with her boyfriend diffused on campus and then on the web. Apparently in gossip-starved S'pore this sparked alot of interest from the usual blogs, forums, papers, religious communities etc giving attention and their 3 cents' worth to the affair. Then of course as usual the girl got all the polemics and nobody paid too much attention to the guy (takes 2 to have sex though) and the person who stole and diffused the videos (what happened to copyrights? to thievery? to illegal distribution of pornographic material?). Apparently some smart opportunistic assholes even started selling merchandise relating to the affair on Ebay etc.

OK, when you see how Home Economics nostalgia got me to baking banana cakes, you may wonder if this Tammy NYP rebel-teenager stunt inspired me to make my own sex mobile phone videos?

Well, I suppose I could have (after all I was quite rebel) if :
  1. I have a mobile phone with an integrated video camera, which I don't. Even my mother has a more modern handphone than I do;
  2. I had sex when I was 17, which I didn't. Even my mother had sex earlier than I did;
  3. I currently have a 17 year-old figure to show to the world, which I don't. When it comes to being fat, I am finally getting an edge over mom.

But Tammy did set me off thinking about my teenagehood and how different things were then. How much I've moved on in years and so on.

I have nothing against having sex. It's one of my favourite activities and I always sleep a little better after a round of bed aerobics with the hubby. But it is the thought of doing it at 17 and filming it at the same time that boggles the mind. And apparently having sex at a young age is a common thing in Singapore now, not many people give a damn any more about the virgin-on-wedding-night business, though of course where the filming is concerned, as long as nobody else gets exposed they could go on pretending it's something they didn't or will never do themselves.

So my generation must be the generation in between. I think women in my mom's time got married young so you can be sure they had sex young too. Then in my time, as far as I can remember, I did not have a single friend (and don't start being mean and suggest that I must not have many of them) who were having sex when we were 17. Of course birds of the same feather flock together (one of my favourite sayings), but then we all have different paths after school, and some finally had sex after all, though only a few black sheep like myself did it before we got married, the majority waited till they exchanged their vows!

Voilà chángjiang hòulàng tui q¡ánlàng**. Things are no longer the same. We are now in the work-look-after-children-too-tired-to-have-sex phase (I'm generalising, am definitely not talking about myself ha ha), while others are just having sex for fun. And when we were supposed to be in the have-sex-for-fun phase we were doing something else. Like checking out 2 novels everyday from the library; Like writing to one of my 40 overseas penpals during Economics lectures; Like having platonic overnight stays in Loyang.

I mentioned the Loyang bungalows to my decadent French hubby the other day, about how in my nostalgia I kept thinking of the wonderful stay I had with my NUS friends there. The 1st thing he asked : ''So did you have an orgy?''

I mean, how could even such an idea enter his mind? We, boys and girls, had a wonderful time; Leonard taught us how to play tennis, we swam a little in the pool, we worked together to prepare the BBQ, we stayed up all night to chat (and deepen our friendship), we listened to each other, we played charades and Pictionary, we told our mothers' ghost stories to scare each other...And we are all still friends till this day.

Because I can tell you that once you sleep with someone, when there is no (more) relationship, you are likely never to see him again. That is the advantage about age, you can take my word for it. No, it has nothing (or not that much at least) to do with your sexual prowess, but the fact that sex complicates things even though it's simple enough to fall into it (my mother liked to say that when you put a guy and a girl in the same room sure very easy to end up having sex). And Tammy, though she co-starred with Andy in her movie trilogy, will probably never see him again before the year is out. And there is really no point in using the handphone to film such events for future reminiscing since aside from the fact that you could lose the phone, once you're no longer with the guy, your sexual horseplay with him would be the last thing you'd want to look at when you start thinking of the good old days.

*Tah pow = take away

**The backwaves of the ChangJiang river pushes its frontwaves.

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