brushes and papers

my learning journey



Reunion Dinner/New Year’s Eve Dinner

This year Reunion dinner was a little quiet at home.  Two of my nieces went back to Indonesia few months ago; the eldest one just finished her O level and the youngest one could not get into primary one because all of the schools here were full.  It was kind of sad to see them went back home. They have been with us since they were three years old.

Once in a while both my brothers and their families would fly into town to celebrate new year with us but not this year.  It was just the seven of us last night.   The weather was quite cool and nice these last few weeks.  That was why we all decided to have steamboat for dinner.  We did not have to turn on the air condition or wipe away those sweats while we were eating haha… And the best part was, we could have a few glasses of wine in comfort and without the feeling of that unbearable heat.

Our dinner last night was nothing fancy.  They were just veggies, meat, sea food, tofu and mushrooms.  There were no rice or noodle too.  The dip sauce that mom prepared was soy sauce with some of seasoning mixed with some of chopped green onion, garlic, green chilly and grated daikon/white radish.  Although the dinner was less a few families at the table, on contrary, it was quite noisy and fun because we had to cook our own food at the table. I hope you all have a good time with your loved ones at your reunion dinner too. Happy New Year.






Duanwu Festival (端午節)












Once a year Duanwu Festival will be here next Wednesday. The festival is also known as dumpling festival or Dragon Boat festival in some countries.  Duanwu is a traditional Chinese Festival which falls on the fifth day of  the fifth lunar month.  Many call it double fifth festival.  People celebrate Duanwu  by having dragon boat race, eating dumplings/zongzi/bakcang and drinking realgar wine.

As usual my mom would make rice dumplings for this day.  The preparation for dumpling making is quite a lot.  It took her two to three days just for it; from going to the market to buy the ingredients to the actual making of it. The bamboo leaves have to be trimmed, boiled to soften and wiped clean piece by piece.  The filling has to be cooked separately.  There are many different kind of fillings for rice dumplings and depends on your own preferences what you like to have.  It usually consists of meat, mushroom, egg, chestnut etc.  Since we are used to what mom has been making all these years so we have what she made.

The usual rice dumpling is made of glutinous rice, but we prefer our zongzi made from rice.  That is why you see half-cooked rice in the picture.  Once zongzi has been wrapped and tied, it is ready to be steamed or boiled for about half an hour or depending on how the rice is made prior to being added too, along with the fillings.  Side dishes may be added along with zongzi as well.  I like to have my zongzi with nice Chinese tea and some kimchi or pickles.  Enjoy.

Happy Duanwu!  端午節快樂!

Rice Cone (Nasi Tumpeng/大米錐)

Today’s article was contributed by my younger sister who recently got a job offer and moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. Amid her busy schedule, she found time to write and share some tidbits of her life there. I hope you like it.

Last Tuesday, April 16, 2013 was marked one month of our moving to new office. As usual with the new office, the team has planned for small celebration so they ordered a “nasi tumpeng” and a tray of cakes mixtures.

Nasi Tumpeng is a cone shape rice with assorted dishes which is served in traditional Indonesian-Javaness style for important celebration. The cone shaped representing mountain that was symbol of holy mountain refer back to ancient Indonesian tradition that revered mountains as the abode of ancestors and gods. The yellow rice was cooked with tumeric which represents heapful of gold, wealth, abundance and high moral.

The composition of the assorted dishes surrounding the rise can be meat, vegetables and some seafood. I am not sure if the one we had, was a traditional Javanese tumpeng which was supposed to be more complex where all the elements must balance one another according to the Javanese belief, the concept of the peace of mind, connection with the universe, and with an Almighty God. The feast was served in a rounded woven bamboo container that was covered with finely cut banana leaf, and decorated with simple cut of cucumbers. It consists of fried chicken, “sambal goreng udang” or prawn cooked in chili souce, vegetable dish, beef curry, “telur pindang” or boiled marble egg with chilli, “tempe pedas” or sweet and spicy fermented soy product, “perkedel kentang” or fried potato bun.

Our new office celebration followed a more traditional Indonesian style of celebration, that is a combination of gratitude, and request for blessing celebration. This type of celebration is started with short prayer to God/s then the cut of the tip of “tumpeng” to be given to the most important person.

The rice was a bit dried due to exposure of the air, so people started to dig the middle portion to eat, the dishes were spicy but delicious. It has been awhile since I had my “nasi tumpeng”, and was very delighted to again participate in this type of celebration. As technology advance in this modern society, there is still time and place to observe and enjoy traditions to remind us who we are.



Happy Saturday!

Happy Chinese New Year


Mid Autumn Festival (中秋節)

It’s Mid Autumn festival again. The Chinese celebrate the festival on the 15th day of eighth lunar month and this year falls on the 30th of September. The celebration became popular during the early Tang Dynasty. There was a Chinese legend about it, but I won’t dwell on it here. In Singapore, it is difficult to miss this festival. When we open newspapers in the morning, we can see advertisements after advertisements celebrating the festive. The promotion of activities at the shopping malls and the promises of goody bag gifts for the attendance. When you received credit card bills, enclosed in the envelope was a 5 stars hotel mooncakes at 15 to 20 percent off early bird promotion. All these are hard to resist and ignore.

On the mid-autumn night, the moon is at its fullest. It is also a family get together time. We will see kids carrying bright lanterns under this bright moonlight. Different places have different way of celebrating the festival. Those who have back yard in their houses will gather together to drink tea and eat mooncakes, chit chatting under the moon light. For me it is just another excuse for celebration. It is a nice change of pace from our usual and routine daily life.

The festive brings togetherness in the communities; it colors the neighborhoods night with all those big and small bright red lanterns hanging. Neighbours, friends and family, who are usually too busy with their life, will pause and reconnect on this occasion. We are repeating to our kids the tale of the mid-autumn which has been told from one generation to the next. This too becomes a tradition that change and adapt as time goes on.

Happy Mid Autumn !

Moon cakes tin.
There are four moon cakes in the box.
One of the moon cakes. It is lotus paste with an egg yolk flavour.
We usually have it with Chinese tea.




中秋快樂 !

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: