Monday 31 January 2011


Chinese New Year's (CNY) Reflection

I am feeling rather sad and lousy today. Tomorrow is the eve of Chinese New Year and I still didn't manage to go shopping to buy a set of new clothes and a pair of new shoes for J. Ever since becoming a working mom, I find it hard to find time to go shopping anymore. I do not have the energy nor the time to go shopping alone. And if I bring J along, I might as well not go, as he doesn't have the patience to wait for me to look through things.

Then I remembered the new clothes and socks that my cousin Ai Hoon and my sister Jermaine gave to J, and my face lighted up. J will have a new set of clothes to usher in the new year after all:-) My heart is full of gratefulness for the gift of clothes and socks.

It is a Chinese tradition to buy a set of new clothes and a pair of new shoes for the children to spend Chinese New Year. This tradition came about perhaps because Chinese were, and some still are, poor and thus could only afford a new set of clothes and shoes once a year for the kids.

I remember when I was young, our family was poor, and I was always so excited in anticipation of the coming of Chinese New Year. It's because that was when my mummy would bring me out to choose and buy a new dress and shoes. And those set of clothes and shoes were to last me for the whole year. In those time, my mother could only afford to buy it from the neighbourhoood wet market store (the most down market place you can find in Singapore). Some years I would pester my mummy to buy me more than 1 dress, and she would. I would then have a dress for CNY Day 1, CNY Day 2 and sometimes even CNY Day 3. However, once in a while, we would go to the departmental store at Holland Village Shopping Centre, and during those days, the departmental store was called Emporium 东方百货公司. If I chose to buy a dress from Emporium, I would only get one dress, as it would cost the price of 2-3 dresses from the Holland Drive wet market.

I still looked back with very fond memories of CNY. I hope to be able to impart that to J, thus I was so sad that I didn't manage to buy him a new set of new clothes to start the CNY. My mother always had been able to buy me a new dress and shoes, but she was also a stay-at-home mom back then.

We have since moved up the economic ladder and gotten out of poverty. But looking back, it had done my soul some good to face poverty. A new dress could make my heart and spirit fly so high! I should learn to impose limits on J in similar ways.

But facing poverty back then also did have negative consequences. I attended an elite all-girls primary school. Back in those days in Singapore, there were already a lot of rich elites. My classmates would take expensive holidays and have Barbie dolls and Enid Blyton's story books among their possessions, and they live in houses with their own private swimming pools. I remember telling them that I went swimming at the swimming pool downstairs my place. But what I did not tell them was that it was a public pool that was very near to my place. One day, I decided to tell the full truth. They decided to stop being my friend. For an eight or nine year old girl back then, it was a great blow to my self-esteem.

Today I am proud of my parents and proud of the family God has born me into, although we were poor. But even till today, I still sometimes struggle with mixing with the Singaporean elites. I would run away or escape, or become very quiet in their midst. I don't reach out to them. For to me, they look like those little rich friends and classmates I once had. Memories of how my little rich friends had looked down on me and rejected me still come back to haunt me. I always have a soft heart for the have-nots, and I think this sensitivity that God has given me came from my background.

Seeing how discriminating I am, my Significant Other once wisely said to me, "Everyone is poor in some ways, including the rich, and that we should be kind to them." That made me reflect.

Dear God, this is an area that You have revealed to me that after more than 20+++++ years, I still have not overcome it. Thank you that You are still working in my life. You love everyone and want to reach out to everyone. I acknowledge my inadequacy. By Your Grace, help us to raise J up so that his self-confidence will rest solely on You, that he will have the emotional strength not to fear rejection, to be kind to the Haves and have a soft heart for the less fortunate.

Back to the Chinese New Year and new clothes. I am truly thankful to my cousin and my sister for doing the shopping and giving J the new set of clothes and socks that I fail to do so as a mom for this CNY.

Quick & Easy Chinese Fish Soup with Ginger/Hurtig og Nem Kinesisk Laks Suppe med Ingefær/鲑鱼湯 [guī yú tāng]

Fish soup

Fish Noodle Soup

J's portion
Recipe from Miranda

Serves 4

Preparation and Cook Time: 15 minutes

- 4 salmon filets (approx. 400g) cut into cubes
- 3-5 slices of ginger cut into strips (depending how strong you desire)
- 1-1.5 litre of water
- 1 stalk of spring onion (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

1. Bring to boil the water in a pot.

2. Add ginger and salmon, reduce heat and cook for 30 secs - 1 minute or until cooked.

3. Garnish with spring onions (optional)

1. You can add noodles and even bean spouts into it and make it into Fish Noodle soup.

2. You can follow the same recipe for other types of fish such as cod fish or threadfin.

Nutritional Value:
Salmon is high in protein, heme iron, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, copper and Omega-3s. There are three kinds of Omega-3s in salmon--docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Like most fish, there are no carbohydrates in salmon.

Ginger is both a spice as well as a herb that boasts of a number of medicinal properties. It contains lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, Calcium, Fietary Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Protein, riboflavin, Selenium, phosphorous, Vitamin C, E and B6, and trace nutrients. It is also an antioxidant. The nutrients present inside ginger, especially its volatile oils - gingerols and shogaols, accord a number of health benefits to its users. The Chinese believe that ginger stimulates gastric juices, provides warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs, relieves nausea, expels wind in the stomach, protects the body against bad bacteria and prevents and fights against cancer.

Additional Information:
This is a very quick and easy soup to prepare. I learned this from my Taiwanese colleague, Miranda, who made this soup for her 9 months old baby girl. Her baby girl loves it even without salt, but you can add salt if you are serving adults.

Pinto Beans/Brune Bønner/斑豆[bān dòu]

For babies:
For Babies from 6 or 10 months – babies’ digestive tract are not mature enough to digest protein before 6 months, and after 6 months, babies need protein – plant source is better, as protein from meat may cause allergies if started too young. I add it to J's oatmeal or use it in my mixed beans and grains stock.

Serving Ideas for Adults:
1. Use pinto beans in chili recipes in place of kidney beans.

2. Blend together pinto beans with sage, oregano, garlic and black pepper for a delicious spread that can be used as a crudité dip or sandwich filling.

3. Layer cooked pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and onions and shredded cheese on a tortilla. Broil in the oven until hot and cheese melts. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro.

4. Add pinto beans to vegetable soups.

5. Heat pinto beans together with cooked rice. Add cooked chopped vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and tomatoes. Season to taste and enjoy this simple-to-prepare one pot meal.

1. Bring to boil, then simmer for 2 hours.

Nutritional Value:
Pinto beans are an excellent source of folate and fiber and a good source of iron. Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, pinto beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. Pinto beans are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate and manganese, and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper.

Certain phytonutrients—shown to be helpful in prevention of some cancers, including stomach cancer—are also provided in important amounts by pinto beans. These phytonutrients include cinnamic acids, secoisolariciresinol, and coumestrol.

Additional Information:
Medium-size beige-and-brown-speckled bean. Earthy flavor and mealy texture.


Great Northern Beans/Hvide Bønner/海军豆 [hǎi jūn dòu]

For babies:

For Babies from 6 or 10 months – babies’ digestive tract are not mature enough to digest protein before 6 months, and after 6 months, babies need protein – plant source is better, as protein from meat may cause allergies if started too young. I add it to J's oatmeal or use it in my mixed beans and grains stock.

Serving Ideas:
1. Make a delicious sandwich spread by blending cooked navy beans in a food processor with olive or flax oil and your favorite herbs and spices.

2. Add a protein punch to tomato soup by serving it with some pre-cooked navy beans mixed throughout.

3. Mix cooked navy beans with olive oil, sage and garlic and serve on bruschetta.

4. Combine navy beans with cooked roasted buckwheat and healthy sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms for a hearty main dish.

5. Use navy beans to make delicious and nutritious white chili.

6. Add cooked and cooled navy beans to a salad of leeks and chard and top with a rosemary vinaigrette.

1. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours.

A Recipe for adults

For the salad:
1 cup dried Great Northern or other white beans, picked over
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped, fresh coriander leaves or parsley
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large saucepan, combine the dry beans with enough water to cover them by 2 inches and add salt, bay leaves and coriander seeds. Simmer the beans, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adding more hot water if necessary to keep the beans covered, for about 1 hour, until the beans are just tender.

2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and oil and stir in the garlic.

3. Drain the cooked beans, discard the bay leaves and add them to the dressing. Toss the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the salad cool, and then stir in the onion and herbs.

Nutritional Value:
Excellent source of fiber and folate and a good source of iron. They are also a good source of many minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and copper. In addition, navy beans are a good source of dietary fiber, protein and vitamin B1.

Great northern beans are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, navy beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, navy beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. But this is far from all navy beans have to offer.

Additional Information:
White, flat, medium-sized and kidney-shaped beans. Delicate taste with a firm texture and tender creamy flesh.



Saturday 29 January 2011


Teaching Numbers to Children the Fun Way

I am compiling a series of ways to teach children Maths the fun way in this post and update it as I go along. One of the fun way to teach anything is to sing it, as it helps the brain to remember it.

At 2 years of age, you can start teaching your child how to count from 1 to 10. J understood the concept of counting when he was around 23 months. He point to the objects and tried to count them, but he could only count from 1 to 3 in Danish.

Counting from 1-10

The Big Number Song

The 2 Times Table Song


Teaching the Colours of the Rainbow to Toddlers the Fun Way

A fun way to teach pre-school children colours is to sing it. Here are some great video from KidsTV123:

The Colours of the Rainhow Song:

The Colour Song:

The Train Colours Song:

Teaching Days of the Week to Toddlers in a Fun Way

A fun way to teach children the days of the week is to sing it. Here is a great video from KidsTV123:


Teaching Names of Body Parts to Toddlers the Fun Way

A fun way to teach pre-school children the names of different boby parts is to sing it. Here is a great video from KidsTV123:

J Summary (22M24D) - J can hop for the first time

Just slightly more than 1 month shy of 2 years old, J could hop with feet off the ground all by himself for the first time today!!! He did that at Yang Li's place while dancing together with Amy. I told Daddy when I reached home, and this evening during the bed time routine, he showed it to Daddy.

He had been trying to hop in the past, but was not able to get his feet off the ground until today.

Friday 28 January 2011


The Price of Success and Affluence

Recently I went to Singapore for 2 weeks and returned with a lot of mixed feelings...

I feel very proud of Singapore and what it has achieved, that it is getting more and more beautiful, more and more comfortable. The economy grew by 15% in 2010, a growth rate that exceeded perhaps even China's. The young are among the top five in the 2010 PISA chart in education achievement. More and more luxurious sophiscated sky-scrapers are popping up. The water-front downtown transformed the whole city landscape and it looks simply mesmerizing. So beautiful physically that it looks and feels like paradise on earth (although it is man-made). Things are getting more and more up-market. It is hard to save money in Singapore. There is always something new coming up, enticing one to try - the latest spa, the latest restaurant, the latest bar, the latest art gallery with expensive painting and artworks, latest innovative entertainment, etc.

I feel very proud of my fellow hardworking Singaporeans. I feel especially proud of our government, the private sector and all the way down to the average Singaporean. For definitely behind the success of Singapore lies the hard work of the whole nation.

I also feel very sad.... it has been in my heart since I returned, and I couldn't get this heartache away. It is also hard for me to try to put words on it... but I am going to attempt to put words to it.

I spoke with one of the Singaporeans. She and her husband would like to have children. I asked them, "So what is your plan if you eventually succeeded in getting pregnant? Who is going to take care of the baby?" The mother-to-be has a high paid job in the bank, which means that the opportunity cost of letting go of such a job is too high. She would not be able to take care of the baby. The daddy-to-be is an upcoming surgeon, and the working hours for surgeons are long. They have counted the cost that it would leave him no time to take care of the baby. They have already discussed it and agreed that he would not be able to get involved in the baby's daily affairs. The in-laws are very successful businessmen, very healthy and are still managing their company. Thus, they would not be able to care for the baby either. The couple has already thought of a solution: hire a maid to take care of the child.

I am sure the maid will do a very good job. But I am sad that the time lost with the child would be gone forever. There will be no memories of doing things for the child, and personally caring for the child as a parent. In a short period of time, the child will grow up, and the time is lost forever. There is no time to touch base as a family. What they do are very admirable. Singaporeans are working hard to bless the nation and people, but at the altar of sacrifice are our closest loved ones - our family.

The non-professional working class Singaporeans are also struggling... to survive and bring home the bread. There is hardly time left to spend time with the children. For behind the success of the nation, some are left behind and could not keep up. The price of food has increased and I am surprised that it has reached Danish price level, but the salary of the lowest paid Singaporeans are not increasing. I could feel their pains and struggles.

We all struggle to have time for our family and we all struggle to put bread or rice on the table for the family, and it is a big challenge here in Denmark for me too. But in Singapore this challenge is multiplied by many more times, ironically perhaps by the virtue of the hard work ethics and ambitions. The value of good work ethics and ambitions are non-questionnable, but it can be both a blessing and a curse.

I know Singapore has to struggle to survive in the world, being a small nation, and there is always this apprehension of being made irrelevant to the world, which means the end of our rice bowl. There is no room for mistakes made, as it is too costly for a small nation. The nation has to strive always to get ahead of the rest, because at the core of it is survival.

Behind all the glittery of the city, there is a big price paid by every single Singaporean, right from the top from our hardworking Prime Minister, to the bottom, our hardworking Singaporeans.

The most sad part I am feeling is... I do not have an answer or a solution to this. This makes me very sad...

But what I learn and be reminded of is that success, prosperity and affluence can be a double-edged sword, be careful what it cuts and hurts along the way to reach there.

Having too much wealth can be dangerous, but so can having too little. Being poor can, in fact, be hazardous to spiritual as well as physical health. On the other hand, being rich is not the answer. Our lives are more likely to be effective if we have neither poverty nor riches.

The Bible says in Proverbs 30:8-9:

"Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God."

Dear God, along life's quests, journey and achievements, help my family not to miss out the most important thing in life. Help my family to have the wisdom to show restraints. Dear God, give me the courage to pray this prayer of Proverbs 30:8-9 sincerely for my family.

A call to go back to church... (Part 3)

As J gets older, it is harder to get J to nap early at 11am anymore. His usual napping time now starts at the earliest at 12pm, but usually at 1.30pm, which is right in the middle of our church service.

It is really not easy for families with babies or young children to go to church. But I have not forgotten my prayer to God that I will try my best to go to church.

I have tried to find another way to do so by changing J's music school and class from Saturday to Sunday morning at 10am. I tried it out last week, and thank God, it worked. After the stimulation and working out at the music class, he was tired out and fell asleep in the pram at 12pm. The music school is within walking distance to our church - i.e. 45 minutes walk. I will then just push the pram to church, while J sleeps.

This means that I have to wake up early by 6 am to get organized, get dressed, make his breakfast and his lunch pack. I still feel lonely and sad to go to church without my Superstar. God is one of the most intimate thing in my heart. It pains me that my Superstar could not share in this intimacy. But I have to go on alone even if it takes a lot of effort and energy on my part... even if it is a lonely path to travel on... I pray that one day to come when our whole family can go to church as serve... It may take many many years... and I may not have been the greatest Christian example outside and at home... but I can only do my best, and leave it to God to work on my Superstar's heart... when that day comes, it would be the happiest day in my life.... this is my prayer request... and as I walk with J to church.... I pray for my Superstar.

Here is a sample of J's revised schedule on Sundays (22 months). I don't always succeed in meeting such a perfect schedule, but it serves as a guide to make my day with J more productive:

6 or 6.30am: Mommy wakes up, get change and prepare J’s breakfast

7 – 7.15am: Breakfast – Super porridge with vegetables

7.15 – 7.30am: Helping mommy clean up – load dishes into the dish-washer/counter-top/sink

7.30 - 8am: Potty (training) time, wash and dress (change diaper)

8 – 8.20am: Learning time - reading with mom, reading on my lap

8.20 – 8.40am: Blanket time + egg timer near the stair case with a toy, board books, teaching how to stack blocks, shapes, colours, letters, etc.

8.40 – 8.55am: Getting ready to leave the house.

8.55 – 10am: Train and bus to music school.

10 – 10.45am: Music class

10.45 – 11.15am: Lunch

11.15 – 11.30am: Settle for nap

11.30 – 1.30pm: Nap (2 hrs) (mom walks to church.)

1 - 3pm: Church

3 – 4pm: Travel home or to farfar & farmor’s place

4 – 4.45pm: Creative time – play dough, drawing, painting or Video Time listening so to alphabet phonics (while mommy gets dinner ready)

4.45-5.30pm: Dinner with family or at Hellerup, load dirty dishes into the dish-washer/counter-top/sink

5.30 - 6pm: Family time – cuddling, tickling, somersault, wrestling, bungee jump, etc. in bed

6 – 6.30pm: Put dirty clothes into the laundry basket, Bath time with Dad

6.30 - 7pm: Bed time reading with Mom

7-7.15pm: In bed, prayer and lullaby

7.15-7.30pm: Settle to sleep

7.30pm: Sleep (10.5 hrs)

7.30pm. Couch time with my Significant Other

Pecan nuts/Pecannødder/碧根果 [bì gēn guǒ]

Nutritional Value:
Pecan nuts are rich source of energy, provide 690 cal/100 g and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for wellbeing.

These nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of antioxidants. Regular intake of pistachios in the diet help to lower total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in dietary fiber, mono-unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

Pecan nuts are rich source of many phyto-chemical substances that may contribute to their overall antioxidant activity, including polyphenolic antioxidant ellagic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. Research studies have been suggestive of that these compounds help body remove toxic oxygen free radicals and thus, protect body from diseases, cancers as well as infections.

Anti-proliferative properties of ellagic acid are due to its ability to directly inhibit the DNA binding of certain carcinogens such as nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, thus protecting body from cancers.

Pecans are an excellent source of vitamin-E, especially rich in gama tocopherol; provides about 25g per100 g. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.

The nuts are packed with many important B-complex group of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. These vitamins functions as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism.

The nuts are also rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

Additional Information:
Pecans have a delicious, buttery yet rich-flavored taste and are one of the popular edible dry fruits known to American aborigines since centuries ago. Pecans are native to central and southern parts of the United States of America,


Hazelnuts/Hasselnødder/榛子[zhēn zǐ]

Nutritional Value:
Hazelnuts have been ranked as one of the most nutritious nuts because they supply significant amounts of protein and fiber, vitamin E, B1, B2 & B6 vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Nutritional Value:
Hazelnuts have been ranked as one of the most nutritious nuts because they supply significant amounts of protein and fiber, vitamin E, B1, B2 & B6 vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Hazelnuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic and essential fatty acid linoleic acid that help to lower LDL or bad cholesterol and increase HDL or good cholesterol. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

These nuts are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous healths promoting phyto-chemicals; that help to protect against diseases and cancers.

The nuts are exceptionally rich in folate which is unique to nuts. Folate is an important vitamin that helps prevent megaloblastic anemia, nucleic acid synthesis, and most importantly, neural tube defects in the fetus. Good news for expectant mothers!

Hazel nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E; contain about 15 g per 100 g (providing 100% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.

These nuts like almonds are free in gluten and therefore are a popular ingredient in the preparation of gluten free food formulas for gluten-sensitive people and people with wheat allergies and celiac disease.

The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), and folates.

They are rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Copper and manganese are essential co-factors for anti-oxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Iron helps prevent microcytic-anemia. Magnesium and phosphorus are important components of bone metabolism.

Hazelnut oil has nutty aroma and has an excellent astringent properties; helps to keep skin well protected from dryness. It has also been used in cooking, and as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines in massage therapy, aromatherapy, in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.


How Much Food Should a Toddler Eat?

The Super Baby Food recommends 1/4 of an adult serving per year of age or 1 tablespoon* per age of child per serving:

- 4 servings of vegetables and fruit per day.
- 4 servings of grains (carbohydrates) per day e.g. bread, rice, cereal, noodles, etc.
- 2 servings of protein per day e.g. meat, fish, eggs, tofu, etc.
- 500-700ml of daily per day e.g. milk, yogurt or cheese

* 1 baby food cube = approx. 2 tablespoons

The above is in line with the Danish government recommendation of a "Y" shaped "plate" for each main meal, divided into:

- 2/5 consisting of carbohydrates such as rice, bread, potato or pasta; and
- 2/5 consisting of vegetables and
- 1/5 consisting of protein such as meat, fish, egg or cheese.

At 1.5 year old (1 serving=1.5 TBS= a little less than 1 cube):

J is 1.5 years old, thus, a meal will consist of:
- 3 tablespoons of carbohydrates (equivalent to 1/4 cup or 1/4 slice) - rice, bread, potato, pasta; and
- 3 tablepoons of vegetable and fruit; and
- 1.5 tablespoons of protein - meat, fish, egg or cheese.

Aim at 3 full meals a day, although it is alright if toddler eats only 2 full meals a day. Thus, total daily serving would be:
- 6 - 9 tablespoons of carbohydrates (equivalent to +/- 1/2 cup or 1/2 slice) - rice, bread, potato, pasta; and
- 6 - 9 tablepoons of vegetable and fruit (equivalent to +/- 1/2 cup of cut fruit).
- 3 - 4.5 tablespoons of protein (equivalent to 1/4 cup) - meat, fish, egg or cheese;

In addition, a toddler should consume 2-3 cups of milk daily to get the required calcium.

At 2 years old (1 servings = 2 TBS = 1 cube):

J is soon turning 2 years old, thus, a meal of breakfast will consist of:
- 2 cubes of carbohydrates - oatmeal, millet, quinoa, rice, bread, potato, noodles, etc.; and
- 2 cubes of vegetable and fruit - carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, french beans, etc.; and
- 1 cube of protein - beans, meat, fish, egg or cheese.

A meal of lunch will consists of:
- 1 slice of bread (carbohydrates); and
- 2 cubes of vegetable and fruit - carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, french beans, etc.; and

A meal of dinner will consists of:
- 4 TBS of carbohydrates - brown rice, brown rice beehoon, potatoes, etc.; and
- 4 TBS of vegetables and fruit; and
- 2 TBS of protein - meat, fish, tofu, etc.

Aiming at 3 full meals a day, although it is alright if toddler eats only 2 full meals a day. Thus, total daily serving would be:
- 4 cubes of carbohydrates - oatmeal, rice, bread, potato, pasta or noodles, etc.; and
- 4 cubes of vegetable and fruit
- 2 cubes of protein - beans, meat, fish, egg or cheese;

In addition, a toddler should consume 2-3 cups of milk daily to get the required calcium, but I am quite relaxed about this, since right now he is eating very well all the 3 courses of meals, more than the average toddler. J drinks a lot of plain water.

Teaching Months of the Year to Pre-school Children the Fun Way

A fun way to teach pre-school children the countries of the world is to sing it. Here is a great video from KidsTV123 on how to sing the countries of the world:

Thursday 27 January 2011


Teaching Countries of the World to Pre-school Children the Fun Way

A fun way to teach pre-school children the countries of the world is to sing it. Here are great videos from KidsTV123 on how to sing the countries of the world:

The World:






J's Bento-Style Lunch Box 3

19.2.10... J's lunch today

This time round, I have included raw grated carrots and chopped red pepper fruit as well as small chunks of boiled chicken breast. J finished almost everything, just a quarter of the carrots and half of the pepper fruit left :-)

J's Bento-Style Lunch Box 2

18.2.10... J's lunch today, open sandwich spread with tahini and topped with egg yolk, quinoa and broccoli;

Finger food: cooked cauliflower and broccoli florets, cooked carrots strips and whole wheat pasta.

J finished ALL the food in his lunchbox. Nothing left :-D

J's Bento-Style Lunch Box 1

16.2.10... J's lunch pack Bento style... thanks to the great idea by my friend Karen Lim

Clock-wise from left: Danish rye-bread open sandwich with broccoli, sweet potato and quinoa spread plus finger food with sweet potato strips, broccoli florets, whole wheat pasta and haricots verts.

J's Bento-Style Lunch Box 4

Consists of:
- 1/2 or 1 slice of Danish open sandwich cut into half and put in 2 separate container.
- 1 side dish such as pasta with tomato sauce.
- 1 fruit such as banana (which is J's favourite) or blue-berries
- 1 type of finger food or raw piece of vegetable such as baby carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber

1. Pack them in smaller containers with lids.
2. Close them and pack them into a large lunch box.

Additional Information:
This is a very simple lunch pack to make before hand using frozen baby food cubes. It is very healthy or "plain" to most toddlers, but J has been trained since he was 10 months old to eat them. He has now acquire the taste of it. He is now 22 months and still eating them, and hopefully it will last as long as possible.
It will usually comes back empty, except for the raw vegetables. But I am not discouraged. I will try again and again with the raw food, and re-introduce it once in a while.

The principle behind it is to include the following:
- To feed the rainbow, i.e. the variety of vegetables/fruit of different colours
- To continue training the child to eat raw vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes.
- To provide a varied and balance meal consisting of bread, vegetable and fruit.

Notice that the lunch pack does not contain meat. This is because it is harder to keep it fresh, harder to prepare them in batches and also because J gets to eat meat during dinner time.

Pasta with Tomato Sauce

- 1 cube of frozen homemade tomato sauce
- 1 small palm size container of cooked frozen whole-wheat pasta

1. Thaw the tomato sauce cube and frozen pasta the night before in the fridge.

2. Next morning, mix them together and put back into the container.
3. Pack it together with the other food in the bento lunch pack or eat it on its own for lunch.

Nutritional Value:
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium, and vitamin B1. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, vitamin E and protein. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants.

Tomatoes have been shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of colon and prostate cancer, and reduce bad cholesterol levels.

Tomatoes and broccoli-two vegetables separately recognized for their cancer-fighting capabilities-are even more successful against prostate cancer when working as a team in the daily diet, shows a study published in Cancer Research.

In addition, tomatoes are a very good source of fiber, which has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels, keep blood sugar levels from getting too high, and help prevent colon cancer. A cup of fresh tomato will provide you with 57.3% of the daily value for vitamin C, plus 22.4% of the DV for vitamin A, and 7.9% of the DV for fiber.

Additional Information:
I batch make the tomato sauce, pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze them. They can keep for 8 weeks in the freezer. I use it to include into J's bentolunch pack. The pasta container comes back empty most of the time.
This is a very simple dish, nothing fanciful. J has been trained to eat simple food. J eats this dish cold, as the daycare does not warm the food for the children.

How Not to Over-Cook Potatoes?

Birgitte's Friis recipe

Preparation & Cooking Time: 20 minutes

- 1kg of potatoes (peeled or unpeeled)
- 200ml water
- pinch of salt (optional)

1. Bring to boil a pot of water with cover on the stove top.

2. Turn down to the lowest setting while still keeping the water boiling (no. 5 on my stove).

3. Pour in potatoes, add salt and cook for 15 minutes.

4. Drain and ready to serve.

Don't throw away the water from boiling potatoes. Use it as stock for your next soup dish by keeping it in the fridge for a few days or freeze it in ice-cube tray.

Nutritional Value:
Potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamin B6 (which supports the formation of almost all the new cells in your baby's body) and potassium. They also contain fibre, iron, folates, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, zinc and magnesium.

The carbohydrates in potatoes contain something called 'resistant starch' - so named because it resists being digested on its way to the large intestine! Once there, it acts like fibre, in that it lowers cholesterol and helps guard against colon cancer.

Additional Information:
The Danes eat a lot of potatoes, and I learned from my mother-in-law how to prepare boiled potatoes that taste good. Actually it is not needed to use a lot of water to boil potatoes. This way of cooking potatoes saves water and electricity or gas. It also retain most of the vitamins, since little water is used.

Tuesday 25 January 2011


An Essential Super Porridge Breakfast for Toddlers

Picture: This is a power breakfast that I serve every morning to J (with variation here and there), and one that I can't do without. J usually eats a full bowl like this. I also believe this is the key to J having such good health, and that he hardly falls sick. When he has eaten a full bowl of this Super Porridge, I usually do not mind if he doesn't eat well for lunch at the daycare or dinner later at home.

The base ingredients of this power porridge are baby food cubes. You can read more on why I am still making baby food cubes here.

1. 2 TBS of cooked oatmeal, which is cooked with low-fat fresh milk (1% fat) (white colour)
2. 1 cube of homemade mixed beans and grains (red beans, mung beans, black beans, quinoa, millet and barley) (red and black colour)
3. 1 cube of homemade frozen broccoli puree (green colour)
4. 1 cube of homemade frozen carrot puree (orange colour)
5. 1 egg yolk (optional, on egg days 2-3 times a week)
6. 1 banana (white colour)
7. 1 tsp of olive oil (fat is important for brain development, but use only the good fat)
8. 1 tsp of brewer's yeast
9. 1 tsp of wheat germ
10. Pumpkin seeds or sunflowers seeds (J likes to sprinkle this by himself as breakfast is served)

1. Warm up the first 5 ingredients in the microwave for 30s - 1min.

2. Mix them together with the rest of the ingredients.

3. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top.

You can grind and sprinkle some goji berries into the porridge once in a while. J loves to sprinkle goji berries on his porridge, and to pick them one by one and eat it on its own.

Additional Information:
Some people have asked me how I manage to give J healthy food and manage to find the time to do so and still have a job. So I have decided to make a post on it.

I read the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron and followed it. The author's child is willing to eat such super porridge even until 3 years old, while even most toddlers would reject it. I have so far been fortunate with J. J is soon turning 2 years old, and still very willing to eat this breakfast, which he calls "zhao can" in Mandarin. He even requested "zhao can" for dinner.

How to get toddlers to eat such super porridge breakfast?

It takes hard work to get a toddler into habit of eating such a porridge and the hard work began all the way when J was just a baby. When he started on solid food around 5.5 months, I began to introduce such food one-by-one and the journey was completed by the time he was 1 year old. I did not use a single baby bottle food at all. I am relieved that it has shaped his appetite and willingness to eat this super porridge till this day. My advice is that you need to start your baby young, otherwise, it is very likely that he/she is not willing to eat such a bowl of super porridge.

The importance of nutrition and sleep

J is a very healthy boy and he hardly falls sick. If he does, he recovers really fast. The only time he fell sick for a long period of time was when he started day care and getting use to the germs and bacteria there. I believe this is due to the food and nutrition I give him, and also the amount of sleep I make sure that he has. Bedtime is usually at the latest 7.30pm and the exception is 8pm (when we are out). When I write bedtime, I mean the time he has fallen asleep. This means that he is usually in bed 15-30 minutes before. I believe that sufficient sleep also contributes to building his immune system. Because he is hardly sick, I have more energy to juggle work, and don't have to struggle with child's sick leave. Because he sleeps early, it also gives me time to do the household chores, spend time with my Superstar or do research on child development and work on my blog.

We are very strict about J schedule, especially his sleep schedule. The price we pay for keeping J's sleep schedule, for me to hold down a full time job, juggle family and meal time is that I usually don't accept any social invitation later than 3pm. This means that our social life is sacrificed, but since we already have so little time left for each other (our spouse), it is something that has to go. If we have any after 5pm appointment, it is usually at our home.

It is also very important that your child sleeps through the night. Otherwise, you will be interrupted constantly and would not have the time to yourself, which makes juggling a full time job even more challenging. In anticipation of me returning to the work force after a yaer, we had trained J to sleep through the night already when he was 14 weeks old (when he showed no sign of doing so on his own) with the help of my best friend, Jannie. It is a whole topic on its own, and I hope to do a separate post on it.

How to juggle?

This is how I manage to juggle making such a breakfast for J while having a full-time job:

1. I make the vegetables and bean puree in batches and freeze them in ice-cube trays.

(I usually multi-task and steam the vegetables for J while I am making dinner or cooking rice. I can steam the vegetables using my automatic rice cooker. I learned from my friends Ansoha and Jenny to cook beans in a pressure cooker, and it takes 30 minutes all in all only. Thus, it helps me to save some time.

2. I thaw the vegetables and bean cubes in the fridge the night before.

3. I make the oatmeal the evening before, and it usually last for 2-3 days of servings in the fridge.

(I multi-task by simmering the oatmeal under no. 4 heat source on my stove, while working on my blog. Usually it works well and I succeed, but it is not always as smooth sailing as it sounds on my blog. Sometimes I burn the pot, if I am too engrossed in the other task. If so, I am fortunate enough to have a great help in my Superstar to scrub the burnt pot :-). For example, I was making the oatmeal for J this evening while writing this post, and I just burnt the pot!)

4. I grind the flaxseeds in the morning and they usually last for 2-3 days of servings in the fridge.

(Again here I mutli-task, I grind the flaxseeds while preparing J's lunch pack.)

5. The rest of the enhancers (brewer's yeast and wheat germ), I have it readily in front of me in glass containers and I just spoon it and sprinkle it into the bowl.

6. I hard boil 5-6 boil eggs at one go and freeze the cooked egg yolks in ice-cube tray.

(To save time, I usually do this when I am preparing dinner for the family. After dinner and J goes to bed, I will peel the egg shell. Again, it is not always so perfect. I sometimes only manage to do this a day later. If so, I will keep cooked eggs in the fridge)

7. I mash in the banana in the morning itself.

Feeding the rain bow and variation

Notice that I am "feeding the rainbow", i.e. giving different colours of the vegetables and grains. You can make variations.

1. For example, instead of always using millet in the mixed beans and grains, you can use buckwheat occasionally.

2. Instead of carots, you can give pumpkin or sweet potatoes puree.

3. Instead of broccoli, I also give french bean puree.

4. Instead of olive oil, I sometimes mash in half an avocado. Avocado is very nutritious, containing the good monounsaturated fats as well as vitamin E.

Why porridge?

You may ask why do I give mashy food like porridge to J for breakfast, since Johua is already a toddler and he can eat food without mashing it?

1. It is easier to slip down his throat then giving him bread, etc. for breakfast.

2. Thus, it is quicker for him to eat. He takes him much longer to eat a piece of bread. Therefore, he eats more in a shorter time. Since I have to go to work in the morning, it is a real advantage that he can eat his bowl of breakfast in just 5-15 minutes.

3. It is easier for the toddler's stomach to digest and absorb the nutrients if the food is mashed and the seeds/nuts are ground. Otherwise, it will just come out of the system whole.

The Super Baby Food Book

The Super Baby Food book is not that easy to read - no glossy pictures, and full of words. But for those who can read such a book from cover to cover and make summaries to make it work for them, it contains truly golden knowledge far better than any baby's or toddler's food book I have come across. It is a "no Nonsense" book.

I must admit that I had 6 weeks of pre-maternity leaves and 1 year of maternity leave to read the whole book. For those who don't have such luxury, my blog is a summary of application of the concepts in the book with pictures, plus some of my own ideas.

- Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron


29.1.11 - J having his Super Porridge Breakfast

Teaching Phonics to Toddlers the Fun Way (Part 2)

Here is a compilation of some interesting video clips from youtube that teach and sing the phonics of the English alphabets. Reflecting, I am truly thankful to these kind chaps who made the videos and share it with the whole world for free. By doing so, they have provided the precious gift of education to everyone including the poor among us (although one still needs to have a computer and internet connection).

A - Z



























Short Vowel

Long Vowel - A E I O U

Silent e Rule

Two Vowel Rule

Monday 24 January 2011


Teaching Alphabet to Toddlers the Fun Way (Part 1)

Here’s a summary of 13 ways from a summary of my research, which I will do my best to follow:


1. Read
Read to children from birth. The first step in teaching the alphabet is getting your child interested in listening to stories. At around age 2 or 3, children who are frequently read to get the idea that books contain print, which is made up of letters.

2. Sing the phonics of ABC & say nursery rhymes
Sing the ABC song. Here is a good song with phonics:

3. Talk nonstop to your infant and toddler
Talk and say the sound of the letter. Here is a good video:

4. Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD
For example, say "J, can you show your Teddy bear how you can set the table?" or "J, I need you to teach Teddy Bear the rules about mealtime."

5. Make Toddler-size Letter puppets
Make Alphabet come alive and be his friend by using a cardboard approx. 60x45 cm tall and cut it out. Then act out the personification of the letter. Dance with it and make the alphabet puppet speak the sound of the letter.

6. Use ABC pasta or biscuits
Make alphabet soup from alphabet pasta and before the kids consume it, use this to teach them the abc. Alternatively, you can use alphabet biscuits for the lesson. Your kid will enjoy learning abc and eating them as well !

7. Sign his name to his artwork
Then point out letter by letter. Eventually he'll get the idea that those letters, put together, stand for his name. Use alphabets as decor around the house especially at your child's play area or bedroom. Not only are they decorative but they also becomes a great tool in teaching abc for kid.

8. Alphabets blocks
You can play lots of games with these blocks such as making new words, unscrambling words, sorting the consonants and vowels. You can also set up two little basket and have the child pitch the vowels into one and the consonants into another.

9. Use alphabet decor
Use letters forming his name on the door of his room. Use letters as decor around the house especially at your child's play area or bedroom.

10. Play word games
Once he recognizes a letter, play word games — "What words start with 'B'? Ball, baby, boy ..." or use the first letter of his name as the starting point — "Your special letter is 'P,' for Peter; can you think of any other 'P' words?"

11. Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

You can also teach abc by playing ABC scavenger hunt. Have the child hunt for items that starts with the desired letter.

12. Alphabet Stamp
Another interesting way to teach your child ABC is using an alphabet stamp. Your child will enjoy using this to come out with new words and sentences in this alphabet activity. It is a great way to teach and practice spelling without being too boring.

13. Alphabet puzzles

14. Alphabet fridge magnets


Around 2 years old, but you can also start earlier if your child shows interest. Some 18 months old can recite whole alphabet already, because their parents expose them to the alphabets early. Most children begin recognizing some letters between the ages of 2 and 3 and can identify most letters between 4 and 5. (Your child won't be able to write letters until he's about 4, so don't focus on teaching him to write until then.) But if he's under 4 and shows no interest, it's best to let it go for a while. No evidence suggests that very early alphabet learning is related to more advanced reading skills later on.

15. Write it out BIGYou want to write the letter large. Get a large drawing pad and show your child by writing it out big. You can also use a white board.

16. Write it creatively
Use everyday teachable moments. Write it on the sand, on the side walk, in the bath tub, in clay, etc.

Additional Information:
J is soon turning two, but I have not started J alphabet yet. But I am considering to introduce it slowly, especially now that I have designated Sundays as "Speak English Day", i.e. the day when I will speak English to him. I will start with phonics, because the experts say that it is more important to learn the sounds of alphabets than the names.

There is a lot of homework a mom has to do, and I take the perspective from these words from a contributor to Babycenter. It is not how soon J will learn to say his ABC, but enjoying the joy in the process of learning, so that it is not a kill-joy:

“If you truly spend long hours doing all of the above your child will learn. Maybe he will not know his alphabet at 18 months, but he will have spent many loving momments with his parent. Remember you are given your child, a little soul, to guide through his early years. Do your part, but love the soul for who he is.”


Saturday 22 January 2011


Goji Berries/Goji Bær/枸杞子[gǒu qǐ zǐ]

Ideas for use:
1. Add it to your Chinese chicken soup, stew, porridge, tea or Chinese tonic soup (a must have in the traditional Chinese kitchen)
2. Make Chinese red dates, longan and goji berries tea.
3. Blend it into your smoothies or fruit juice.
4. Eat it as breakfast in your musli or cereal.
5. Sprinkle it in salads.
6. Snack it on its own.

For babies:
For babies/toddlers from 12 months. Due to the lack of strong scientific studies, I prefer to err on the cautious side, and only introduce to my baby after his has reached one year old, and preferably use only the organic ones.

Nutritional Value:
Weight for weight, goji berries are supposed to contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots and more iron than steak.

The beta-carotene in the fruit is thought to help fight heart disease, defend against cancer and protect skin from sun-damage. The berries are a good source of B vitamins and anti-oxidants - which may help protect against the fallout from chemical reactions in the body.

Goji berries are also rich in copper, calcium, potassium and zinc. They are believed by the Chinese to be beneficial to the liver, improve eyesight, reduce heart disease, reduce diabetes and promote overall good and strong health.

Although goji berries are known as a health tonic food, do not give to your baby if he/she is running a fever or sick, in the hope of boosting his/her immune system. Goji berries are considered by the Chinese to be a "heaty" food, i.e. too much of it will cause the body to be heaty or hot. The Chinese believe in the yin and the yang and every food is classified into yin (cooling) or yang (heaty) food. Thus, only give to your baby when he/she has recovered from his/her flu. The same goes for adults.

Additional Information:
The Chinese swear by it. Although not totally scientifically-proven (more studies required), the goji berries (also known as wolfberries) are considered to be a tonic food by the Chinese, meaning that it is believed to be immune-boosting and thus highly beneficial to health.

Traditionally, the Chinese use them in savoury dishes and traditional tonic soup (except the sweet Chinese Red Date Tea, which has goji berries as part of its ingredients) . Thus, it is interesting for me to see how the Europeans and Americans are adopting the goji berries in their diets in the sweet way in desserts, musli mix, smoothies, yogurt, fruit juice and even goji berry chocolate bars! I never imagine that goji berries can be eaten as a desserts, thus I am learning from the Europeans and Americans in this respect. They provide an out-of-the-box way to use goji berries.

My friend, Karen Lim, reminded me about the goodness of goji berries, as she uses it in the breakfast she makes for her toddler. I started to give it to J too and I also begin to use them more often in cooking, usually when I make Chinese chicken soup. But I should incorporate it more into our diets.

As I started to take more notice of it, I realise that it is entering the Danish market, in the organic form, of course. According to Danish description, it tastes like a blending between craneberries and cherries, and the Danes describe it as "nutidens superfood". It feels a little funny getting to know a traditional Chinese food through European sources.


J Summary (22M17D) - Struggling to survive the Singapore's multilingual environment

J can repeat half sentences that I say in Mandarin and is talking more now since we came back from Singapore on the 11.01.11. He now combines 2 words, usually verb and noun such as "gan su" - read books in Mandarin, "chi mian bao" - eat bread in Mandarin, "yao zhou" - want to walk in mandarin, "yao shui jiao" - want to sleep in Mandarin. He would point out things and say it when we were walking on the street. He also asked us what the name of the different objects are. He now says "he nai" or "he sui", when he wants to drink water, instead of "han han". "He" is drink and "nai" is milk in Chinese. He is combining more verbs and nouns together now.

J can say "hoppe" (hop in Danish) and he is trying hard to hop and stand on one leg, but he can't. He is still not developmentally ready yet. I read somewhere that the ability to hop occurs around age 2, and it is also related to language development. It is a milestone of the maturity of the brain. So I will try to record down when he can hop.

The trip to Singapore revealed some weaknesses that I need to fine-tune. J could not interact with other toddlers who can only speak English. J also could not interact well with my beloved Auntie who is a Malay and only speak English and Malay (my uncle married a Malay).

This got me paranoid, and I am now more determined to be more disciplined and speak to J only in English only on Sundays. It is hard being a Singaporean, you have to juggle with Chinese and English. It is tougher to be J, as he has to juggle with Chinese, English and Danish. The good thing is that he could communicate with my mother (who only speak Mandarin, Teochew, Hokkien and Malay, but not English) and my dad (who speak mainly Mandarin and Hokkien, although he also speaks English).

I admit that I am very ambitious - I want J to be able to to interact well with my parents, the Chinese-speaking Singaporeans, the English-speaking only Chinese Singaporeans (some Chinese in Singapore have lost touch with their Chinese roots), our Malay part of the family and also the other Malays and Indians in Singapore. I, of course, also want him to interact well with other Danish kids and our Danish side of the family.

Corrective Action:

Discipline is paramount, and I strive to be very discipline from this year on to speak only English to J on Sundays, but only Mandarin from Mondays to Fridays. I have been very slack about the English Sunday in the past, and kept forgetting to speak to him in English on Sunday. Today is Saturday, and I have already prepared my English book for our blanket time or bed time tomorrow. I shall make this preparation of books into a habit and slowly build it into my routine so that it just come naturally.

I still watch with amazement how my mother, age 62, and my granny, age 80, could still converse in Malay with my Auntie. I am so proud of my mother and my granny. One of my life's many regrets is that my mother did not teach me Malay when I was a kid, although she had learned to speak it herself. I would love to be able to speak it with my fellow Malay Singaporeans in Malay.

What would you do if another child kick your toddler intentionally?

I hope others will share their experience and advice.

Yesterday I brought J to the playground after the daycare. A boy about 4-5 years old (or definitely at the age where he is morally aware of right and wrong) blocked the bridge to the slide and kicked J on the stomach. It wasn't just a case of a child hitting another child, but a karate-style kick with full leg power 90 degree perpendicular swing including the thigh muscle. J fell backwards both due to the physical force as well as the shock that someone would kick him in the stomach and cried. I picked J up and carried him. The boy's mother was just few steps beside him and witnessed everything. At first, I gave his mom a sympathetic look, feeling sorry for her that she has such a violent child.

I then looked at the boy, and he had this "ya ya papaya" look on his face, meaning he gave the "I am invincible look". However, when his mom did not make any attempt to apologize nor to correct the boy, my sympathy turned into anger. I took the matter into my own hand, went over to the boy and said to him, "You should not kick another boy. You should apologize". At this point, his "ya ya papaya" face began to disappear. I have achieved the results I wanted, although I did not get him to apologize. His mom still did not say anything. She still did not ask him to apologize. She just took him and they got ready to leave the playground.

If J is at the age where he is speaking and has a command of language, I would have asked J to say that to the boy himself. However, J, 22 months, is not at that age yet and still can't speak in sentences. I felt that I have to stand up for my son.

Looking back at this incident, I wondered whether I had done the right thing in interferring in other parents' parenting. At that moment, I have forgotten that I am a Christian, and I just felt that I needed to tell the boy off. If his parents do not condone such behaviour, the boy could just go on and kick other children younger than him and get away with it.

What would you do if you were in my shoes? What would you have suggested that I do? What would Jesus do? What does God think that I should do? What would my pastor do? Help, I am struggling to find some Godly guidance. I would appreciate to hear some advice from others.

Apart from the physical blow, I was more worried about the emotional blow. I was worried that J's self-confidence would be affected. But I was relief that J seemed to have more self-confidence I thought. He cried and asked to be carried. Then J asked to eat and drink. I brought him to a table and gave him some biscuits and plain water. J stopped crying at the table and ate the biscuits and drank the water. Maybe that was J's way of telling the boy in his own toddler's body language, "I am going to eat and grow big and strong so that you will think twice if you want to issue that karate kick at me again!" All this while, the bully boy was just nearby the table, wearing his shoes and getting ready to leave with his mom from the playground. Still without any word, nor any apology from either the mother or son. J seemed very forgiving, facing the boy straight and did not turn away from the boy's face or hide into my embrace. Maybe I should learn from my son J to be as forgiving.

Tuesday 18 January 2011


Chinese Char Siew BBQ Pork/Kinesisk BBQ Svinekød/蜜汁叉烧肉 [mì zhī chā shāo ròu]

Serves 4

Preparation & Cooking Time: 45 minutes (excluding the overnight marinating)

- 500g pork loin, belly or butt cut into 4 pieces

Char Siew Sauce:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maltose
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rose wine or regular shaoxing Chinese rice wine (玫瑰露酒)
- 1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce (海鲜酱)
- 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder (五香粉)
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 dashes white pepper powder
- 3 clove garlic pressed
- 1 shallot onion pressed (optional)

1. If you find it hard to work with the maltose (to sticky to stir), heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds.

2. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and add pressed garlic and shallots into the sauce and stir well.

3. Marinate the pork pieces with the char siew sauce and leave it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or preferrably overnight.

4. Heat the oven to fan grill setting at temperature 190°C (or 375°F).

5. Lay the pork on a rack and spread foil on the bottom for easier cleaning and roast the char siew pork for 30 minutes. If you bother, it’s best to use the S-shape hooks and hang the char siew pork at the top layer of the oven to get an even roasting, with a roasting pan or aluminum foil sheet at the bottom for the drips. But I am too lazy, I just put it in an oven-proof dish. Since it is marinated with maltose and honey, keep an eye on the pork and the oven heat as it may burnt easily. Turn down the oven temperature if needed. Need to brush the pork with marinate or baste occasionally to keep the meat moist.

5. Serve immediately with steamed white rice or egg noodles and some green vegetables such as choy sum.

Additional Information:
This is a quick and easy recipe for the time-pressed modern working woman. However, if you wish to follow a more traditional recipe, you will need to heat up the sauce until thickened (see references for details). I do not see the need as maltose at room temperature is very thick already. In the traditional recipe, you may want to grill them over fire on stove top. I prefer to use the oven all the way. The maltose is the ingredient that gives the char siew that sticky sweet taste and texture.

One of Daddy's absolute favourite food in Singapore is char siew pork (char siew in Cantonese means roasted on a fork). So I have decided that I have got to try making it myself! Since it is hard to get choy sum in Denmark, I will serve with some steam broccoli instead.

Use pork loin for a healthier leaner meaty version, but if you prefer for char siew pork super tender, moist and fatty, you can use pork belly or pork butt.

The pork I bought from the Danish supermarket came tied with string as seen in the picture, but you do not need to do that.

I won't classify this as a healthy dish though due to the loads of maltose and honey used in the marinate. Although it is Daddy's favourite food, he highlighted this too, and thus we restrict ourselves. Daddy actually likes the more leaner version better. So this is only a treat that we eat once in a while.

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