Memoirs of a Budget Mum

Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

Tag: budget cooking

Morning at Sembawang Hot Springs

We jumped at the chance to spruce up an otherwise routine Monday with a morning trip to the recently revamped Sembawang Hot Springs, with friends. We decided to aim to reach the park at 7.30am and by the time we parked (nearest parking is at Blk 114, Yishun Ring Rd) and made our way there, the park was already teeming with with communal life and activity at about 8am.

The girls didn’t quite know what to expect as they had never been to a hot spring. Soon, we figured our way around.

There is a communal foot dipping pool with water of various degrees of warmth (40-70degrees). We realised after awhile why many people were huddled on one end of the seating area of the communal foot pool – because the water was not so stingingly hot there and more amenable to foot washing.

Over at the other end there was what appeared to be a sheltered area filled with wooden benches and seating. There were wooden pails and scoops hanging at the side of the covered areas in a quaintly cute fashion; almost Muji-like in feel and it was a nice feeling watching people carry heavy pails of water to find a spot to soak their feet.

Mostly elderly, some brought herbs and we soon observed the rolling of trousers and pants, and people using the scoops to pour water up to their knees; in a bid to soak up the benefits of the spring water.

There were interesting and curious users as usual. One man brought an entire plastic tub to soak himself in and another family brought a baby bathtub to bathe their toddler.

The water is actually too hot for immediate use. One has to wait a significant amount of time the water to be just the right temperature for soaking. The gushing water spews out generously from the tap and one has to be careful not to fill their bucket too full for fear of the hot spring water splashing on.

The girls, especially the 3yo, was hesitant to try soaking at first but after awhile acclimatised to the temperature and enjoyed two rounds of soaking.

Our lovely friends also brought the full works: kampong eggs, pots and condiments!

That was surely the highlight of our cozy trip- we had started the eggs to cook upon arrival and had to make about 5-6 changes of water over a 1hour duration for the perfect “even better than” Ya-Kun-styled eggs, sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt, a dash of soy sauce and pepper.

Pro-tips for cooking:

1. To cook your own eggs, bring a covered pot (steel preferably) and start them off with 70 degrees hot spring water before you go foot dipping.

2. Leave the eggs covered in the pot every 15-20min and change the water to keep it hot and under pressure.

3. Crack a test egg to check doneness. We tried this a few times with a few eggs to get it to the doneness we desired- about 1 hour.

***

Nparks has really envisaged a pretty cozy communal space that is unique to Singapore, to engage with nature and communal foot soaking. Crowded with urban cityscape and run of the mill malls that are a sine qua non of modern heartland living, this place is a breath of hot “spring” air.

We were pleasantly surprised by the thoughtfulness of the space and design in pulling disparate segments of life into one spot: not surprisingly, we saw many elderly folks, many who came with their spouse, daughters and sons, grandchildren. Some brought herbs and natural remedies to pair with their foot soaking experience.

It is easy to see why everyone is excited with the novelty and the possibilities of what one could do when natural spring water is made so available and pleasantly accessible. After all, the space beckons like a public spa of sorts that serves the common man- an idea that is pleasantly attractive and inclusive to all.

Hopefully, we can all do our individual part to preserve and protect the space for communal use in both big and small ways; thinking and using things with consideration of hygiene to other users and graciousness in sharing pails and not hogging amenities. I was touched to be on the receiving end of random acts of kindness from strangers who offered me their soaking pail and a seat to sit with my koala baby in tow. That made our visit to the hot spring so much more special.

Cooking for the Village

Cooking for a large family has always been such a whirl. It always starts with a fluster of inspiration from surfing Pinterest and saving one too many news feeds of Tasty videos. This is followed by the random mad impulse to visit the supermarket to scour for good deals. Usually the Man (my endearingly patient hubby) strategically grabs a basket….with the not so subtle intention to ahem, keep me in line and give me “perimeters” for spending.

Other than that, here’s what we usually do to keep homecooking on a budget:

1. Visit good quality supermarkets for reduced items. Just today we flashed by Cold Storage and nabbed some half -priced buys of chicken, flower crab and portabellos. Usually, the reduce have day after use-by dates so one really has to be prepared to whip up something the day itself or the next day. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you get stuff that hold out for longer. Just remember to check when they are due and work your meals around it!

2. Look in your fridge and work with what you already have. Remember, half the time we over-buy and over-stock as we forget what we have in our pantry. It’s the same with fresh produce. Check in with what u already have and Google their pairings. There could be recipes you never thought existed. Today, I had an epiphany while staring at the miso tub in my fridge and its remaining shelf life. Typically miso goes in soup but garlic and miso is an ingenious pairing and when used as a marinade on chicken, is an absolute recipe keeper. The pictures speak for themselves!

3. Think of ways to extend the meal. Plan to use every item/part of the cooking process well. Some days ago, I bought mint leaves which I used in a tzatziki dip. I rolled over the remaining leaves in some vietnamese rice rolls the next day. Today’s winning miso chicken dish was also dutifully extended. The chicken and miso juices left in the pan were fully absorbed by the lovely Daiso udon noodles I boiled specially for our carbo-nivores.

This is tonight’s complete Japanese Fusion Weekend pig out: Garlic Miso Chicken, absolutely delectable in that garlicky saltiness. Cucumber Wakame Seaweed Salad, a 5 minute refreshing sweet sour crunch to cut through the oil and udon that’s soaks up the delicious juices and layered with furikake and seaweed.

Here’s the modified recipe just for those of you who would like to feed a village ?


Garlic Miso Chicken (adapted fr justonecookbook.com) Feeds 10 pax

Ingredients:

Parts of chicken (I used 6 thighs and 6 drums)

1 bulb of garlic, finely minced

4 Tbsp. Miso – I used white miso

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

3 Tbsp. mirin

1 Tbsp. sugar

1. Prick the chicken with a fork. Combine minced garlic with miso, add soy sauce, mirin, sugar in a bowl and stir into a marinade. Rub it over the chicken and set it to marinade in the fridge for at least three hours.

2. Set to broiler mode, 180degrees in the oven for 50minutes, turning the chicken midway. Keep an eye on chicken towards the end to estimate doneness.

Cucumber Wakame Salad


http://www.japanesecooking101.com/cucumber-and-wakame-seaw…/

Udon

Flat udon noodles. $2 a pack from Daiso. Boil noodles till al dente. Throw into juices in pan and sprinkle furikake to taste. Top with crispy seaweed(optional)

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