Lessons from Ondeh-Ondeh

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-06 at 11.03.21

Inspired by the ondeh-ondeh my students made during our Melaka trip, mom and I decided to make our own too! And here’s three things we learnt while prepping, kneading, rolling and cooking the ondeh-ondeh.

  1. It is a dish that requires practice and precision.Too little pandan extract will cause the dough to break easily. Too much pandan extract softens the dough, causing it to be unable to contain the palm sugar (gula melaka) in it. Precision and experience is needed to knead the perfect ‘al dente’ dough.

    Laziness cannot be tolerated when making an ondeh-ondeh. Take the time and effort to chop the gula melaka into cubes rather than pound them into mini bits. The pounded gula melaka seemed to melt and leak out of the firmest dough before it enters the boiling water.

    Last, ondeh-ondeh should not be too big. It’s harder to melt the gula melaka in big ondeh-ondeh than small ondeh-ondeh.

  2. Plain glutinous rice balls are far easier to make than ondeh-ondeh.Steps to making an ondeh-ondeh are far more tedious. Extract pandan juice from pandan leaves, steam the desiccated coconut shavings, mix the sugar, glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour batter with enough pandan extract, stuff the dough with gula melaka cubes, boil the raw ondeh-ondeh and coat it with coconut shavings….

    Cut the pandan juices, coconut shavings, tapioca flour and gula melaka and you get plain glutinous rice balls. Equally delicious and much less labour involved. Perhaps, I shall make glutinous rice balls in future.

  3. Home-made ondeh-ondeh is far cheaper than those in commercial stores.Home-made ondeh ondeh may not taste anywhere near those made by ‘world-class’ bakers such as Bengawan Solo. But, it is definitely much cheaper than the 6 for $2.70 ondeh-ondeh in a Nyonya confectionery. For $10 is enough to get all the ingredients needed to make 75 ondeh-ondeh. That’s $0.15 for one, $0.90 for 6. Home-made ondeh-ondeh is way cheaper, and though it may not taste as nice as what the experts make, it guarantees fun throughout the preparation and cooking process.
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Dear God,

I need better time management.

Was teaching the topic of animal welfare and animal extinction today when a student who is not for animal welfare burst out, rather tartly. He said, “Why bother about animal extinctions? I believe in God and he would create more of these animals.”

That commented created an outburst of questions… The other students started flooding me with questions on cloning, regeneration, reincarnation, resurrection and anything to do with recreation.

Should I be happy or should I weep?

Three years ago, I set out on a mission to take a photo of a thing I am grateful of each day. When it first begun, my photo log was filled with images of clear blue skies, tall sturdy trees, and, of course, captured moments with friends at events.

Things have become a little different today, though (though it’s necessarily a nasty difference). It was hard to find even one picture of things I love, such as Jeremy or nature scenes, in my image roll for the last three months. Instead, it is occupied by screenshots of my students’ reward charts, homework and random scribbles. My initial response to this reaction was to mentally remind myself to spend a little more time out of work, with friends, family and nature. But, my alter ego nudged me this morning and taught me that this change is for a greater and better purpose. “This change is something you should be grateful for,” it said.

The pictures of my students’ scribbles, work and reward charts in my image roll are evidence of how they have grown and improved. Seeing how they mature warms the heart. Indeed, everyone grows, for the better (albeit at different paces). And witnessing this growth is a wonderful learning experience as I remind myself that growing helps me see the beauty of life all over again. This experience is definitely something to be grateful for.

 

June Holidays 2018

June Holidays 2018 has been a rather “memorable” one thus far, particular for my wallet, because I spent approximately $1000 for a holiday, which I did not manage to go on. First, I had to forfeit my air ticket for church camp, as well as the fees for the camp. Then, I had to pay quite a sum of money to get my food poisoning treated (mental note to self to NEVER have Tony Roma in JB ever again). Last, I had to pay an extra $400 to catch another flight home because I missed my flight back from Thailand to Singapore because of a super nasty and unappetising jam – traffic jam.

Am still pretty bummed about the experience, and the constant stream of unfortunate events had been quite a test of character. Throughout the whole time, I was wondering what I did to deserve all these. But, I realised that through it all, unfortunate or not, life goes on. I can choose to go on whining, or I can choose to just take things in my stride, and be extra careful the next time. Despite the unfortunate events, there are still many beautiful things I am blessed with and I should focus on these than the negative stuff.

So, here’s a list of five things I am extremely grateful for this holiday, despite the unforeseen and unpleasant circumstances:

  1. I am really thankful to have friends who helped me through when my body crashed from the food poisoning. Thank you Don for filling my tummy with nutrition from your really delicious and out-of-the-world salad. Thank you for checking on me to ensure that I have totally recovered. Thank you Sufen for being by me as I merlioned every bit of the nasty toxin from Tony Roma and for providing me with wet tissues! Thank you Uncle Chor Teck for coming in to replace me so I can rest! Thank you BK for driving me out of Sentosa to the train station so that I can grab home! I hope you did not miss any games because of this! Thank you also for Meng Heng for answering to my call straightaway and for  fetching me on your bike to see a doctor! I will not forget how shock the doctor was when she found out that I travelled on a bike in that half dizzy and half dead condition haha!
  2. I am so glad that I managed to steal a short getaway in Bangkok for the first time in 14 years. I was worried that I would not be able to make it for the trip because of the food poisoning, but, thank God, my body healed just enough for me to be able to take a plane ride to the land of smiles!
  3. I am extremely thankful that Dad and Bro spontaneously agreed to come on a trip with me so that I would not feel so bummed about having to cancel church camp!  Bangkok may not be my first choice in terms of a holiday destination, but I was so thankful for the crazy things that happened there with my brother and my dad! It was a great bonding time, and I am sure that it would be better if mom and sis were there!
  4. I am soooo grateful that my dad and brother were with me in Bangkok because I would not have known about what to do if I were alone and I found out that I have missed the flight! I am also thankful that Dad was really nice about the whole thing and tried to keep me and bro cheerful, even though he had every reason to feel lousy, especially because he had to pay for the tickets out of his credit card first.
  5. Though having paid $400 more, I am thankful that there was an Airasia flight out of Bangkok in the very next hour. I could not imagine if I had to wait for Scoot and stay in Bangkok until Monday evening. I would get in so much trouble with my workplace if I did not report back on Monday. So yeah, I am really relieved that we made it back to Singapore in time for me to complete some work and prepare my heart for school tomorrow. I am also glad that this holiday ended simply with a great volleyball training, and a nice Father’s Day ice-cream meal with Dad and Sis.

Bring it on Semester 2. I’m ready (I think).

5 Things I Learnt as a Teacher

  1. Entering a 5-day teaching week after a 5-day exam week feels like your gym trainer increasing the speed of your treadmill (from 3km/h to 12km/h).
  2. A gorgeous girl (the school beau to be exact) is the cure to a crying boy’s pain.
  3. It is better to have physically abusive kids than verbally abusive kids – words cut deeper than the fists and bruises on the flesh heals faster than bruises in the heart.
  4. Teachers are secretly students too – there are days where we really struggle with getting up and going to school.
  5. Like how a farmer dances around his harvest, small things like bumping into your ex-students and finding out how they’ve been doing can put a big smile onto your face.

The last few weeks had been suffocating, to the point where it was impossible to even squeak a word of “help”.

I thought that I was prepared for this crazy life of adventures, I thought I would have the stamina to last a long time. I was confident, but.. I am now reduced to clouds of doubts and fear. Do I have the strength to carry on? Will I lose my sanity? Will I have the strength to continue on in this venture? If I don’t, will I have enough to support myself and my family? So many questions, so much pressure to seek answers.

But, life is to be lived. I am sick and tired of worrying. And perhaps these mindless worries are the reasons for my weariness. See how the flowers of the fields grow when they do not even labour or spin? One step at a time, Alicia. Believe that God will provide. His grace overflows and his love abounds and if you hope, trust and obey, you will be able to soar on wings like eagles. And when you do this and look back, you will be grateful for the work God has done in you.