There’s an adage one commonly finds on photo-enthusiast discussion forums, and it goes like this: the best camera you can have is the one that’s with you. That’s one of the reasons why the iPhone 4 has turned out to be quite the big hit; since you carry the smartphone everywhere you go. While my D7000 still performs significantly better in AF and handling and also offers (slightly) better image quality, shooting with the E-M5 is just a lot more fun! Not to mention too that it’s also lighter, and I find myself carrying the camera around whenever we’re out of home with Hannah.

A selection of pictures from the weekend again, and taken using the 12-50mm and 20mm f1.7.=)

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Some of Hannah's most, er, expressive moments are when she's in the toilet.=)

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With her stuffed sheep. Until recently, it was stashed away for a few months in her big tub of toys.

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Girls and dolls.=)

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Another friend remarked again how much she looks like me, the daddy. And I still can't see the resemblance!

Hannah had her (pre-)birthday party in school on Friday morning. Her birthday’s still more than a week away, but this was the last opportunity for her to celebrate with friends before her pre-nursery school closed for the June holidays. Ling arranged for the little celebration with her class (Tulip 1) with a Blackforest cake and little goodie bags for the tots. This wasn’t the only birthday celebration on that day. Other classes were having similar events – made for quite a bit of a noisy occasion!

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The very yummy Blackforest cake! The kids ate half, and Daddy helped finished the rest at home.=)

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Hannah's classmates, and with their form teacher.

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With daddy and mommy, but our girl's more interested to get started on the cake.

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Hannah was taught to offer a piece of cake to parents first.

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Her class tucking in. The teacher explained that one of her classmates had a light appetite, so she didn't have a slice.

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Our girl is growing. Not too long before I have to start thinking of boyfriend firewalls!

Yang has been asking for this dish for a while since last year but I’ve been reluctant to cook Hainanese pork chop as deep frying will be involved. Imagine the oily splatter, big volume of cooking oil required, and the cleaning up later. However, I was in the mood to revisit this dish and managed to cook it for dinner recently. And boy, I must say it tasted better than before.

I didn’t have any cream crackers at hand and hence used leftover panko in the fridge. Unlike my previous attempt, I had the potato slices this time. I also let the pork marinate longer. The result was tender, flavourful and crispy pork chop over a bed of lovely onion-cum-tomato sauce. Oh yes, I reduced the amount of oil for frying and it was fine too.

We had this pork chop dish with black bean lotus soup and steamed white rice. It was such a satisfying meal! :D

Below is the recipe I tweaked from my previous attempt:

Ingredients

250 g pork loin – sliced into 1 cm thickness

1/2 cup plain flour

1 egg, beaten

1 cup panko

1 tomato – cut into wedges

1 onion – sliced

1 Russet potato – peeled and sliced

Marinade for pork loin:

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp rice wine

A dash of ground pepper

A dash of five spice powder

A few drops of sesame oil

Sauce mixture:

1/2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

6 tbsp tomato sauce

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp light soy sauce

1/2 tbsp vinegar

1/2 cup water + 1/2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in it

Method

1)     Place the pork loin slices in a single layer in a sandwich plastic bag. Beat them with a meat mallet or the spine of a cleaver to flatten and tenderize.

2)     Mix pork with marinade well, cover with cling wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

3)     Fry potato slices until lightly browned. Set aside.

4)     Coat marinated pork slices in flour, followed by egg and then panko. Make sure the pork is thoroughly covered with panko crumbs.

5)     Heat up cooking oil (roughly 1 cm height) in a frying pan and fry the pork chops until golden brown, turning them as necessary with a pair of long wooden chopsticks or tongs. Drain the excess oil from the fried pork chops and let it cool before cutting into long strips and arranging on a serving dish.

6)     In a non-stick pan, sauté sliced onions until fragrant, then add tomato wedges and sauté further. Add water + cornstarch mixture, stir, and then add the rest of the sauce mixture (i.e. chilli sauce, tomato sauce, sugar, light soy sauce and vinegar). Add fried potatoes. Stir and allow the sauce to thicken slightly.  Adjust seasoning if needed and pour everything over the pork chops.

7)     Serve immediately with steamed white rice.

Bliss! :D

 

Another quick fix for a tropical delight – yum yum. :D Below is my ‘on the go’ concoction:

Ingredients (to make 4 popsicles)

  • Jackfruit flesh – 250 g (for puree)
  • Jackfruit flesh from 3 seeds – cut into short strips
  • Coconut milk – 50 ml
  • Organic honey – 1 to 2 tbsp
  • Evaporated milk – for thinning the puree if necessary

Method

1) Blend the 250 g jackfruit flesh, coconut milk and 1 tbsp of honey together until smooth.

2) Do a taste test to check for sweetness. Add more honey if desired. (Generally, if the sweetness is just nice, do make it sweeter as it won’t taste as sweet when frozen.)

3) If the puree cannot pour easily, just add some evaporated milk to thin the mixture.

4) Divide the jackfruit strips equally into popsicle moulds and pour the jackfruit puree into them. Use a chopstick to stir the mixture to remove air bubbles and distribute the jackfruit strips evenly.

5) Place popsicle sticks into the moulds and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving. Enjoy :D

Verdict: Jackfruit and honey go well together. The taste is yummingly rich. Hee hee :P

A refreshing change for the taste buds :D

Got the idea for serving this dish at home from a recent function at my workplace. A colleague shared her quick-n-easy preparation of the salad dip and this was how I got hooked to the idea.

The Japanese cucumber was deseeded and cut into long strips. If the cucumber is not so crunchy, try soaking them in tap water for about 20 minutes to make them crunchier. I noticed that my celery tasted weird nearer both ends and hence I used only the middle portion for the salad. To ‘plump’ them up, I cut one long stalk into 2 shorter stalks and stand one end in a glass of tap water for around 20 minutes too. Then I cut the stalks into thin strips. For the carrot, I just peel the skin and cut into long strips. Cut yellow / red capsicum in strips too. The cucumber, celery, carrot and capsicum strips were wrapped in separate cling wraps and refrigerated until use. Peel and cut mango into cubes. Refrigerate them, covered. Cut black, seedless grapes into halves. Refrigerate them, covered too.

To balance the meal a teeny weeny bit for Hannah, I added hard-boiled eggs for their source of proteins and fats. Yup, there is not much of carbohydrates in this meal save the sugars from the fruits.

Now on to the highlight of the dish – salad dip. I have both the healthy (pictured above) and not-so-healthy (pictured below) version. The healthy version (thanks to Annabel Karmel for her recipe) is IMO very delicious and guilt-free. I modified her recipe so that I could use what I already have in the kitchen. Below is the modified recipe:

Ingredients

  • onion (50 g, chopped, about 1 small onion)
  • fresh ginger (peeled and chopped, 1 tbsp)
  • sunflower oil (100 ml)
  • rice vinegar (3 tbsp, I used seasoned rice vinegar for making sushi rice)
  • light soy sauce (2 tbsp)
  • tomato sauce (3 tsp)
  • sugar (3 tsp)
  • orange juice (2 tsp, freshly squeezed)
  • water (3 tbsp)

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth! :D
  2. Wrap and chill the dip in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving. If you like the dip, can blend in bigger quanitity and keep in glass containers in the fridge for future use. :)

Okay, now the not-so-healthy salad dip but quick to prepare:

The not-so-healthy but easy to prepare dip

Ingredients

  • Light sour cream (100 ml)
  • Seasoning mix for salad dip (9 g, I used 1/3 pack of McCormick’s Ranch Dip Seasoning Mix from Cold Storage. Just follow the recommended amount of sour cream to go with the mix)
  • Paprika

Method

  1. Mix the powdered Ranch seasoning mix with light sour cream and a few dashes of paprika. Do taste check. Add more sour cream or seasoning mix according to your preference.
  2. Wrap and chill in dip in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.

Hannah couldn’t resist the novelty of dipping food into the sauce for the 2 occasions we had this dish for dinner. I had to teach her that she cannot do double-dipping. She finished her meal by ‘licking’ the bowl with the healthy dip clean. Both the girls in the family loved the healthy dip. Yang preferred the not-so-healthy version. To sum up, I found this dish to be a great way to encourage the young ones on their intake of raw veggies. :D

We’ve just firmed up accommodation arrangements for a short 6 day trip during the June holidays, alongside our ang mo bud who’ll be making his fourth trip to Singapore to visit us.The destination will be on relatively less-known Indonesia island 3 hours away from Singapore – more posts to come about our trip to come.

Two pictures taken using the E-M5, both demonstrating a marvelous feature of the camera. All were taken using the 12-50mm lens.

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Hannah at play after dinner, with Mommy watching TV ('Frasier') in the background. This was taken at an amazing 1/10s... handheld, and sharp nonetheless still. Wouldn't had been possible without the innovative optical stabilization the camera uses. Picture here was just resized, not cropped.

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Ling has been nurturing four plants for science lessons in school, and asked me to take a couple of macro pictures of new sprouts. The sprout you see here is just about 2mm tall; the lens front element was about 3 cm away from the sprout. Picture was resized + cropped.

Believe it or not, Hannah has an inclination for Chinese songs. This definitely has nothing to do with her parents! She has been learning new Chinese songs from her pre-nursery teachers and singing them whenever she is in the mood. I suspect that the oriental pentatonic tunes appeal our little one. :P

Closer to home, I’ve been trying to help her increase her Chinese vocabulary through reading picture books and conversation. I felt terrific upon discovering that our local Popular Bookstore carries a small but respectable and creative collection of cute and simple Chinese books for babies and toddlers. Ever since the discovery, I have been steadily increasing her library of Chinese books at home. And the best thing is that Hannah likes to browse through these books and asks myself or Yang to read to her. :)

My haul from Popular! Hee hee :)

There is this interactive Chinese book entitled <找不同> that encourages the child to spot the difference in diagrams which Hannah greatly enjoyed. It is easier to engage her in conversing in Chinese through books like this one. This book also has bold colours which I used to help her recognise them in Chinese. So far, she is progressing well in calling out the colours of objects in Chinese. The numerical department is easier for her as her pre-nursery reinforces it regularly.

The next milestone would be to speak in phrases and sentences. Arghh!!!

It’s the season for Thai honey mangoes! Yay :D I’ve been taking advantage of these cheap and good fruits to make (& experiment) various desserts :)

Chill out with a healthy popsicle :D

I blogged about a recipe for mango-banana-coconut milk popsicle some time ago here. Just a few days ago, I added nata de coco to the popsicle and it gave a nice chew to the eating experience. I added about one tablespoon of nata de coco cubes into each popsicle mould, poured the blended fruit puree in, and then used a chopstick to give the mixture a good stir before freezing.

Our girl could finish a popsicle in one seating now. And she surprised me by saying that “ice cream is healthy…it is good”. I think she was quite right! :)

Hannah asked for a second helping promptly after the first one :)

05. May 2012 · 4 comments · Categories: All Posts, New Home · Tags: ,

Our fifth pilgrimage to visit the ongoing construction of our new home. We last visited just over a month ago, and from the Blk 158 11th floor vantage point again. Here’s a look at what The Minton condo looked like in January this year from that floor:

And this afternoon:

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Our block’ – the white one in the middle – is about completely done now. The first coat of paint has also gone in, and the first six residential floors have their windows fitted in too. What I suspect to be the construction office in the foreground is also being dismantled for relocation elsewhere. Pretty fast progress for sure.=)

05. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Baby Blues, Photography & Cameras · Tags: ,

Come tomorrow, It’ll be exactly a day away from Hannah being a month to three years old. Despite what she might sometimes seem like from the pictures here, be assured that when we say she’s becoming assertive, we mean it! The both of us have frequent stand-of moments with her – for example over what toys she brings out of home, what clothes to wear, drinking milk – though thankfully, none of the stand-offs have been more than 10-15 minutes. She certainly hasn’t taken any of her assertion out of home, so we’re thankful for small favors.

The E-M5’s a pretty easy camera to use, though I’m still getting used to the myriad of customizable options in it’s multi-layer menu system (the Nikon’s menu organization for me is still more logical and definitely neater). The two dials are real helpful; I’ve set one to program-shift, and the other to exposure compensation; definitely way easy to do adjustments now without taking my eye off the viewfinder, as compared to making the same adjustments on the E-PL2.

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Hannah using her chopsticks as drumsticks. This picture was shot at 1/15s, and still turned out sharp. The 5-axis stabilization is incredible!

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Hannah recently dug out her two stuffed sheep dolls that she'd put aside for a few months now. Yep; her moods for which toys to play with changes, and frequently.

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Hannah's also taken to playing with Ling's handphone. She's mastered taking pictures, switching between front/back cameras, swiping photos and even pinch-zooming.=)

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At Ikea (we made new curtains for her room), and waiting for Mommy to return with breakfast trays.

More pictures coming tomorrow too.=)