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Exercise: 25 May to 31 May

May 31, 2015 Leave a comment

One of my goals was to run more. I find running tedious and boring. But nothing beats the after effects (sorry weights!), it’s great for my lungs, and I feel a helluva energised.

But running – like weight-training – should be a mix of types. Hence Slope Runs and Circuit Runs. The former is all about running up and down slopes. The later, a nice jog around the estate.

I adore Slope Runs.

 

Image from Travelling with Corrie

Benefits of Running Slopes

 

I find that it makes me stronger and more co-ordinated. And it also helps in my weights sessions. From RunnersWorld:

It strengthens tendons and ligaments, reduces the risk of injury and improves overall running form…

Hill sessions, in contrast, force the muscles in your hips, legs, ankles and feet to contract in a coordinated fashion while supporting your full body weight, just as they have to during normal running. In addition, on uphill sections your muscles contract more powerfully than usual because they are forced to overcome gravity to move you up the hill. The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides.

 

Power is good. More slopes, please!

 

Exercise Routine

Objective: Continue Activity.

Poundage: 55kg; 3 sets of 10 as much as possible

Day: Type Weighted Body
1: Rest   Calf Raises
2: Back Row
Swings
Deadlifts
 
3: Front Lunges
Squats
Skipping
4: Movement   Dips
Circuit Runs
5: Back Rows
Deadlifts
 
6: Movement   Slope Runs
7: Front Lunges
Squats
Hang Cleans
Burpees

 

What Next?

 

More slopes please!

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Categories: Exercise, Fitness Tags: ,

Exercise: Restart

May 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Coming back from an illness isn’t easy. I’ve been out with Sinusitis for 3 weeks.

During then, I was useless in thought and action. I barely wanted to move – a finger, leg, any limb or appendage. I simply drifted in weird, gauzy haze.

Thankfully, that’s over.

When to Start Working Out After Being Sick

Image from Eat Move Improve

Now comes the hard part – getting back to ship-shape fitness.

As with restarts, it’ll be slow and constant. Remember: Just keep active, keep moving, and build intensity. 

 

Exercise Routine

Objective: Get into Activity. Start easy.

Poundage: 50kg; 3 sets of 10 as much as possible

Day: Type Weighted Body
1: Front Front Squats
Military Presses
Rotational Lunges
Skipping rope
2: Movement Planks
Biking
3: Movement   Biking
4: Back Deadlifts
Hang Cleans
Rows
Biking
5: Rest   Jumping Jacks
6: Movement   Jab & Hook
Squat-jumps
Roundhouse kicks
Skipping rope
7: All Deadlifts
Rows
Front Squats
Military Presses
Run
Pull-up
Dips

 

What Next?

 

I’ll keep the exercise routine as is for now. But ramp up the weights to 55kg.

Let’s see how it goes.

Banana Salad (Issan, Thailand)

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

A first for me.

This Banana Salad uses young tart bananas and fermented field crabs. It’s an acquired taste that isn’t for everyone but it works wonders with sticky rice.

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Watch out for rumblings in the stomach – the little chilli padis in the mix are billowing fireballs in their own right.

Where to eat

Golden Mile Shopping Complex. Some Issan restaurant on the middle of the first floor

Food Experiment #4: Roast Beef With Cider Marinade

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

When salt and peppa ain’t enough, add alcohol. After all beer goggles make viewees hot and helps population growth nightly (at least our government hopes for that!).

On a foodie note, alcohol also goes with food. I thought: “Why not a wet marinade for a beef roast”?

So armed with meat and little else, I went out on Google and found this Cider Marinated Beef Roast (src: Cooks.com) that piqued my interest.

Did it work?

You’ll Need These Ingredients:

  • 1 beef roast, 2 lbs. (I used Sirloin), tied

Sirloin roast with butcher's twine

Marinade Ingredients

Cider Marinade ingredients

  • 2 cups of Apple Cider
  • 2/3 cups of Salad Oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Onion (1 med.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled, smashed, but not completely crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of salt, thyme (I picked up sage, silly me!), whole allspice (no allspice, so I used clove & cinnamon in equal parts), dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

 

1. Make the Cider Marinade

Chop up the herbs and throw everything into a plastic bag. How difficult can it get?

Cinnamon, Clove, Salt, Sage, Bay Leaf, Mustard

2. Marinade the Beef Roast!

Chuck the roast into the bag and leave in the fridge for more than 4 hours. Turn the roast every 2 hours.

It’s a freaking mess even with a ziplock bag. These two tips will get the most out of your wet marinade in a bag:

  1. Gash the beef. Stick inch-deep holes or slashes all over the beef roast so that the marinade will seep into the beef
  2. Place the bag on a deep dish to catch slippage from the marinade

I noticed that the cider marinade cooks the outside of the beef. If so, how in the world is the marinade of any use? Meathead Goldwyn’s most excellent post “The Secrets And Myths Of Marinades And How Gashing Can Make Them Work Better” is a fairly scientific approach to marinating meats that bring joy to meat geeks.

The end result of the marinating process:

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Marinating

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Marinating (top view)

3. Roast it!

My reference recipe calls for 20 min in the oven at 220C before roasting again for 36min at 180C. After roasting, take it out and give it 20min of sitting time under an aluminium tent.

Roasting Rule of Thumb: 15min per 450g + 20min @ 180C

The Cider Marinated Beef Roast is on the right side (browned roast).

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Roasting

Once 20min has gone by, start carving the roast into thin slices.

Roast Beef with Cider Marinade After Carving

Verdict

I thought that the roast was too rare. And I prefer my beef bloody. Perhaps another 15min in the oven would have sealed the deal. Otherwise, it was full of beefy goodness.

Almost success!

What is a Singaporean identity?

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

A colleague asked: "What is a Singaporean identity? You eat, shop, drink."

ST-Luis Mistades-Defining S'pore

Image source: If Only Singaporeans Stopped to Think

I couldn’t answer immediately. On reflection — and listening to Grace Fu on the news — I thought back to when I left Singapore. 

The Singaporean is someone who speaks with a staccato inflection; who knows bashas, leopard crawling, CSMs, M-16s, and walking around with a shaven head; who knows that having a bit of everything — prata, lontong, chicken rice, bak kut teh — is better than just one type of food available to most people; who lives, drinks and chats with Tamles, Mats, and Mungens.

The Singaporean is a varied bunch. Some hound kids to the tuition centers; some are big losers with big hearts; others guzzle beer while five-tenning another; while many of us slave in florescent-lit offices and catch up with other cubicle mates now and then. 

The Singaporean has played on big stone slides in the heartlands; who cusses, lim chius and sits with a leg up at the hawker centre. Their favourite pastime being the many complaints about cabbies, rain, MRTs and the government; and what is a Singaporean without the lah, leh and horscorrect or not?

 

That’s the Singaporean Identity

 

It isn’t about race. It’s about the things that are meaningful to us — part experiences, part people, mostly memory.

My parent’s conception of a Singaporean identity is quite different from mine, and my grandparent’s view is vastly alien from mine too. Regardless we will have shared experiences that binds us together (like reservists bitching about their in-camp training or ah-lians in the latest Lao-beng joint), and these are experiences that we discuss and bitch about fondly and sometimes otherwise.

I am Singaporean because of them. Not because of a government, or this piece of land, or a vague notion of Singaporeaness.

“What is essential to the growth of a nation is a common history — common sufferings, common memories, and, it may be added, common aspirations." – H.A.L Fisher

In fact, we can go further. 

It’s Disheartening

 

woman-airport

There are so many people coming in at once. So much so that they overwhelm. They bring their own foods, experiences, lingo and ways of thought here. In Chinatown I see a multitude of Mainland Chinese restaurants springing up to cater to new immigrants from China (apparently there’s 1 million Chinese Nationals now), and Chinatown has quite literally become China-town.

That was similar to Lucky Plaza in the beginning of the maid era. But it was a drop in the ocean as compared to the the influx of China nationals. 
Change is inevitable. The old will give way to the newly accepted — like Chinese opera, colour television, and now mobile internet streaming. 

It’s OK… no, not really.

All I can do is say: To the many who will arrive in Singapore to work, study, turn a quick buck, or perhaps nest, please fit in. Please share. Please receive. Please be good.

But do not expect us to bow to your sensibilities…like this ex-colleague of mine.

Categories: Thoughts Tags: ,

Food Experiment #4: Slow Roast Mechoui Lamb

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Made slow roast Mechoui Lamb over the weekend. I was thinking and dreaming about it through the week. 3 hours of roasting the freaking leg!!!

Unlike my slow-roast beef, this one came out tops. The inside was pink, faintly bloody and oh-so-tender. Better yet, the spice marinade seeped and permeated the lamb leg. Definitely one of my better experiments.

Recipe

Prep time: 20 min

Roasting time: 3.5 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 whole leg of lamb on the bone about 2kg. Chopped up in 3 parts (because I had a small oven)
  • 5 tablespoons of oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed and roughly chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoons cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric

Simple, no?

Marinating the Leg of Lamb

raw

  • Clean, dry and remove excess fat from your lamb. My butchers are Muslim dudes who do an amazing of prepping the leg. In fact, they chopped up the leg nicely once I told them I wanted to roast it.
  • Stab the lamb with a sharp pointy knife. Space the holes out at decent intervals.
  • Whack all of the ingredients into a bowl. Stir until it’s a paste.
  • Generously smother the lamb with the paste and dig the garlic into the knife holes.
  • Leave in fridge for 6 hours (or better yet, overnight!). Try not to stare too longingly at it.

Roasting the Lamb

in oven

  • Pre-heat the oven to 240C for 30 min.
  • Add lamb to the oven. Add 1 cup of water to the roast pan. Roast uncovered at 240C for 20min to brown the lamb. Sizzle sizzle, baby.  The water keeps the lamb moist and prevents it from drying out.
  • Turn down the heat to 160C. Continue roasting the lamb for 3hours (or 180min). Bast every 60min with the jus and coat the lamb pieces with a little oil. Check that there’s enough water in the pan.
  • Wait patiently. I suggest a thick book like The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 22.

Slice, Dice and Serve the Lamb

final

  • Stab the lamb with a fork. If there’s a little blood, it’s OK. Remove and rest the leg of lamb on a plate for 20min. I left it uncovered.
  • Make gravy from the jus in the roasting pan.
    • Add water. Scrape the drippings until it dissolves in the jus.
    • Separately fry onions and garlic and whatever you want.
    • Add the dissolved dripping and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce the fire to a simmer and thicken with cornstarch water.
  • Start carving the lamb up. Steal the odd piece and feel good about your creation. A video tutorial on cutting up the lamb below:

Carving up a leg of lamb with bone in.

Serve to appreciative diners. Open-mouthed smile

Recipe adapted from Moroccan food at About.com. Roasting done with a Convection Oven.

Food Experiment #5: Si Beh Slow Roast Lamb & Mint Jelly

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

My dad bought a massive leg of lamb to roast. So why not a freakin’ slow roast lamb for New Year’s Dinner. Buoyed by my earlier success with lamb, I decided to keep it simple and cook  it for 8 hours as directed by Andew McConnell (src: Gourmet Traveller).

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Oddly enough, it’s not as tender as the earlier recipe…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Onwards foodie folks!

You’ll Need These Ingredients:

  • 1 leg of lamb, 4 lbs. (I used boneless), tied
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used cumin powder)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
For the Mint Jelly
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups firmly packed mint leaves
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons gelatine, dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup chopped mint leaves, extra

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

 

1. Make the Spice Rub

Do I really have to go through this?… Alright, crack the peppercorns and  toss it with the cumin, garlic and salt.

Tada.

2. Marinade the Roast

Stab into the lamb. I mean it. Stab deep and long into the trussed up lamb leg. Stab it like you got a vendetta to spare. Because you’re supposed to rub the tossed-up spice mix onto the lamb and into those nice clean holes.

Done with stabbing and rubbing?

Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

3. Make the Mint Jelly

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, mint leaves, vinegar and water. Bring to boil on high, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir dissolved gelatine through. Strain, discarding mint leaves. Pour hot mixture into sterilised jars.

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Allow to cool until thickening, stir extra fresh chopped mint through.

Seal well. Chill until required. (src: NineMSN)

4. Roast it!

My reference recipe calls for roasting covered with foil for 2 hours in the oven at 160C. Reduce to 100C and roast for another 5 hours. Remove the foil and roast for 1 hour at 100C.

That’s a total of 8 hours!

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After roasting, take it out and give it 10 min of sitting time under an aluminium tent.

Once 10 min has gone by, start carving the roast into thick, stuff-your-face-in slices.

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Verdict

Not as tender as my previous food experiment Mechoui Lamb and lacking the spiced flavour, but  it’s bursting with muttonly goodness and crust of fat made it worthwhile.

Went surprisingly well with the tart Mint Jelly. I think I’ll slow roast it without the foil next time.

Almost success!

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