MIRACULOUS ASPARAGUS

MIRACULOUS ASPARAGUS

Asparagus should be considered a happy vegetable. When it sprouts from the ground, it declares the end to Winter: the last of things shrouded in layers, the retreat of cold, wet and bleak; the passing of days hunkered down and staying inside. It sings the arrival of Spring: fresh new life, the return of spirit and colours green, red and all the other hues; having fun outdoors again. Asparagus is the harbinger of joy, the welcomed release of what’s been pent up.   Like relieving your bladder first thing when you get out of bed. If you’ve had asparagus for dinner the evening before, it’s going to smell somewhat stronger than usual. But that’s ok, because it’s believed to be the result of the asparagus you’ve ingested detoxifying your body of harmful chemicals. So bring it on – the more pungent the odour, the better!   Because of its diuretic properties and delicate flavour, and also perhaps thanks to some mysticism attached – asparagus was apparently pictured as an offering in an Egyptian frieze dating to 3,000 BC – the vegetable has a history of being associated with medicinal use. The ancient Greeks thought it to be beneficial for general health, and in Indian lore, asparagus was believed to counteract fatigue and increase sexual appetite.   Fresh asparagus contains about 90% water which is a lot of hydration. It’s a good source of iron, copper and vitamin B6 (an important nutrient in haemoglobin synthesis and function) which work together to enable better oxygen transport in our blood. Vitamin B6 is also important in aiding amino acid, glucose and lipid...
MORE GAIN THAN PAIN

MORE GAIN THAN PAIN

This week’s post is going to hurt me a little. As I begin to write it, I’m already hit by the sour-bitter-cringing anticipation that’s made my cheek and jaw muscles cramp with a sharp pain. My throat’s involuntarily contracted and my tear ducts are on standby. My saliva glands have kicked into overdrive and I have to swallow continuously in order not to drool a mess onto my keyboard. My shoulders have tensed up and I even feel my heart going a few beats faster.   Grapefruits (swallow, swallow, breathe). Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with them. In fact, as we’ll discuss in a bit, they’re actually very good for you. It’s me – I cramp easily on sour-citrus thoughts.   How did this wondrously jaw-aching fruit come to be? In the 18th century on the island-nation of Barbados in the Carribean, a Jamaican sweet orange was cross-bred with an Indonesian pomelo, thus producing the hybrid grapefruit. The name “grapefruit” derived from the way the fruit grew in clusters similar to how grapes grow.   Grapefruits vary from white to yellow and pink to red. In the past, some people considered the white variety inferior and today, it’s more common to find the yellow, pink and red ones. Taste-wise, grapefruits range from sour-bitter to mildly sweet. I’ve only once tasted a mildly sweet grapefruit. That was in New Zealand a couple of years ago and I was feeling brave that day. That particular grapefruit smelt like an orange. It tasted faintly sweet, at first. Then all I felt was the painful cramp in my cheeks and jaw that followed...
CANTALOUPE OR ROCK MELON, THEY’RE GREAT!

CANTALOUPE OR ROCK MELON, THEY’RE GREAT!

How much is 100 tonnes? What I mean is, 100,000 kilogrammes – just how big would a pile weighing that much be? How much floor space would it take up? How wide or tall? How heavy really is 100 tonnes, not just in the mind’s understanding of what‘s “heavy!”, but if you tried to move 100 tonnes without mechanical help, what would happen? I reckon nothing the eye could see, yet so many things that could go “snap” or “crack” inside you all at once.   An Orca – the whale in the movie Free Willy – which is actually the largest member of the dolphin family rather than a whale, grows to about nine meters long and weighs six to seven tonnes. Which means it’d take 14 to 15 Orcas to just about make 100 tonnes.   Or a Humpback whale, which is a true whale. At about 16 meters long and weighing 36 tonnes, it’d take less than three Humpbacks to make 100 tonnes. Still, if you’ve watched a nature documentary and seen a Humpback breach, you’ll appreciate how much whale that is by the enormous splash they make on re-entry. So, “less than” is misleading here. I’ve had the profound pleasure of seeing Humpbacks breach “live” while on the Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver to Alaska in 2009 – they’re truly amazing, magnificent creatures to observe in nature. And they’re huge!   The largest land animal, a male African elephant, stands at a height of four meters and weighs about seven tonnes. It’s similar to an Orca weight-wise, so we’d also need about 14 of these...
THE GOODNESS OF AVOCADOS

THE GOODNESS OF AVOCADOS

I love chips. I don’t mean the fish-and-chips kind. Well, I love those too, thick cut. But in this case I’m talking about the Sea Salt kind, the Sour Cream, Spring Onion, BBQ-flavoured, Kettle, Black Pepper, Chicken-flavoured kind. The potato, corn, kumera, tapioca, tortilla kind. “Crisps” the English call them. I find “chips” easier to say when I’m trying to rip open a packet with my teeth. Those kinds: I love much!   And I love guacamole. I usually don’t bother dipping, instead I’ll scoop up a good portion with my chip and pop it all in for a big, flavour-filled crunch. What’s fortunate for me is that the main ingredient in guacamole is avocado, a “superfood” that’s popular with health-conscious folks. Whenever I indulge in guacamole-buried-chips, I’m actually doing myself a lot of good on so many levels of association with healthy-eating.   There are in fact many kinds of avocados and their shapes range from pear to round, their colours from green to black. They can weigh between 200 grams to over one kilogram each. The most common variant available is the oval, bumpy-skinned, dark green coloured Hass avocado. This is a moderately good-sized fruit weighing in at 200-300 grams. Because of it’s high-growing yields, year-round harvesting and good shelf life, the Hass avocado is the most commercially popular avocado worldwide.   Avocados are called a “superfood” for good reason – they’re power-packed with vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5, B6, C and K, as well as folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and phosphorous. They are a low-carb-high-fibre fruit with zero cholesterol...
HAZY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

HAZY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

Hazy days are here again. Actually, they’ve been here for a few weeks now. According to news reports, we can expect the haze to remain an unwelcome visitor to Singapore till November – Yuck!   Sadly, this has become an annually expected “normal season” in Singapore. Songs and jokes have recently been made about the haze and have aired over local radio and on Facebook. Such are the signs of people in Singapore coming to terms with, or helplessly accepting, the regularity of such conditions even as authorities continue working to mitigate the situation.   What causes it? The slash-and-burn clearing of vast amounts of forests for palm oil in parts of neighbouring Indonesia is largely responsible. While this has gone on for many years, we started noticing it in Singapore about 15 years ago. This was probably due to the increasing scale of slashing-and-burning in proportion with the lucrativeness of the palm oil industry . And it seems to get worse each year. It’s become so bad these last few years that it’s no longer about clouded visibility. When you can smell and taste the haze that shrouds Singapore, feel it coat over your skin, office and home appliances, there’s really nothing normal about this season at all.   A few days ago, I was in our warehouse catching up on the latest on my iPhone: which Very Important Indonesian Person said that insensitive, arrogant, ridiculous and what-not thing, and what concerned and stern replies our own Very Important Singaporean Persons gave. I’ll not go into that discussion in this entry. While it’d be entertaining to get our...