Monday, August 31, 2009

Macaroni Happiness

I just consumed the best box dinner of my life. And it made me question my box dinner choices of the past.

It's hard to say this, but...

I'm sorry Velveeta Shells and Cheese, but I'm breaking up with you. I promise we can still hang out, but only when my new box dinner isn't over. It just isn't going to work anymore. Not when my soulmate is in the same supermarket.

This my new love:

Aaron's mom sent us these lovely boxes of deliciousness from Kansas.

For those of you that aren't familiar, Macaroni Grill is a chain restaurant in the States. It just so happens to be a big deal to us Spreers. It's my sister-in-law and her husband's ultimate favorite place. So much so that it's even the place where they got engaged. Six years and two kids later, they still make the hour long trek to dine when they can get away.

They were actually the ones that introduced me to its awesomeness. Now, I'm also a huge fan.

So you can imagine our excitement when we unpacked these from our shipping box today. We both rushed home, thawed out chicken and got to cookin'.

Tonight we made the Chicken Piccata. The directions were easy peezy.

The kit contains angel hair pasta, seasoning flour (to coat your chicken), lemon infused wine (to make you feel all fancy and gourmet) and some sauce seasoning.

All you have to add is chicken breast and a pretty obscene amount of butter. But we're not going to talk about that. Today, we're only discussing happy things.

We finished all sauteing, boiling and stirring in about 20 minutes.

And it tasted better than anything I have ever put hours of effort into. It was soooo good. We accidentally finished all six servings in one sitting.

It definitely looks like I'm carrying a food baby right now. And I don't even care.

It was sooooo worth it.

**To our moms and dads: Thank you for sending such awesome care packages. They are appreciated more than we can express. Each little box makes us feel like the ocean between us isn't so ginormous and that just for a minute, we're at home with our peeps.

I'm now off to have one of the Ghiradelli chocolates my Daddy sent me and pretend that we're watching bad Hallmark movies together.

(May as well keep this food baby growing.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

People of Walmart

Perhaps it's a sign that I've been away from America too long, but....

This makes me a little homesick:

People of Walmart

It's a website that allows people to send in pictures of the gems they see wondering around the aisles at the local Walmart.

Pure. Genius.

I'm pretty sure I've seen a couple of these people before.

So I'm a lil' crazy about my donuts

This is the face of a happy girl. A very happy happy girl.

This girl is holding a bag of Krispy Kreme donuts in her hand. A ziploc bag of happiness, is what it is.

When my lovely friend Mia heard about our disappointing trip to Dunkin' Donuts, she assured me that she could make it better.

So she went to Melbourne to visit a friend and got us these while she was out and about. Isn't she the bestest ever? She's best thing since sliced bread.

I was a happy happy happy girl. For a whole day.

Then I came home from work the next day and discovered that someone, who shall remain nameless, ate two of them. Two!!!! That's not an even split, is it?!

Then that person had the gall to say, "They're just donuts, Megan."

Obviously, this person isn't aware that the nearest Krispy Kreme is hundreds of miles away.

Just Donuts, they are not.

I'm now locking myself in a back room so that I don't do mean things to said person.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Walking Game

Ok, I'm just going to warn you, this post is mainly meant for other expats in Singapore. Probably more so the expats of the American variety too.

So don't go all "Ang Mohs know nothing" on me here. I'm just sharing an observation. Put the guns away people.

When Aaron and I arrived in Singapore, we sort of developed a fear of leaving the house. Unless it was absolutely necessary, we would plant ourselves in the flat and lock the door. No unnecessary trips period. Necessary, meaning only if we were starving, bleeding or not breathing. Otherwise, it was a no go.

Why were we so weird?

See there's this thing that we Americans are so very used to and have come to love more than cheeseburgers and french fries.

It's called this: three feet of personal space.

I'm guessing it's more of an American thing because no one here seems to have an issue with it like we do.

Every time we walked amongst the natives, we were constantly being bumped into, walked into and downright shoved out of the way.

It was psychologically tiring.

So we just avoided the natives. And scavenged the pantry for food until the last tiny crumb could be found.

Then, my dear husband found a solution.

He created what we call the "walking game". The walking game is easy. All you do is stare blankly ahead of you and make sure to NEVER make eye contact with anyone.

Magically, people dodge out of your way.

I'm fairly sure they're all thinking "What the hell? Those crazy white people aren't even watching where they're going!"

But I don't care.

Because you're not shoving my purse off my shoulder as you push your way into my path.

Now we're trying to think of a game for the grocery store for when those people step in front of you while you're reading product labels and completely block what you're trying to do.

I think I may just start dropping cans on their feet. Then they might catch the drift.

Too harsh? Ok, I'll keep thinking.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Snow in Singapore

So yeah. I have to admit something. Something that a girl from Kansas should never admit that she did.

It's really, really silly and I should be ashamed of myself.

So here it is:

I actually paid money to be frigid cold, lose all feeling in my hands and sit in frozen, fake snow —all while I was living in a tropical paradise where I never have to do so.

I know. I know.

I am a silly, stupid girl. I should be at the beach or playing in the jungle with monkeys.

But here it is. How many people can say that they experienced winter, indoors, while in Singapore? Not many, right? Yeah, that should count for something.


Oh shut it.

I mean that lovingly-ish.

So like I was saying...

This all occurred at a place called Snow City last Saturday. Snow City is an indoor winter playground. They turn the temperature all the way down to freezing and they pump this huge room full of fake snow. And voila! Winter.

For S$16 you get to play for an hour, rent a coat, snow boots and check out Science City next door.

There's a huge slope for snow tubing (sledding with tubes), a mini playground for kids and an ice bar to rent out.

Unfortunately, the bar is not open during regular hours. It's too bad too. The snow tubing could've gotten really interesting.

I had a lot of fun.....for about 15 minutes. Then I had to leave the snow chamber to thaw out. I could not feel my fingers. (I could've rented gloves, but that also meant that I was renting the millions of germs inside of them too. I had enough issues putting on a very used coat and boots.)

So I had to keep taking breaks. And I had to wind the yucky coat sleeves around my frozen icicle hands so they didn't fall off. And yes, I'm fairly sure that my hands were in fact cold enough to fall right off of my body.

Don't judge me Kansas, I haven't experienced a real winter in almost two years. My body is on Singapore time and climate.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not knockin' the place at all.

The tubing was a lot of fun. Obviously...

Here's my beef with Snow City though:

They do not allow cameras inside the snow chamber.


So that you are forced to spend S$15 to buy one of the pictures they take for you.

I hate hate hate tourist scams and this is definitely one of them.

And yes, I totally fell for it and bought the above picture.

I told you. I'm a silly, stupid girl.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Cost of the Gift of Life

Because this is such a cultural difference between Americans and Singaporeans (or Asians in general) I had to blog about it. It's been eating at me for days.

I found this article in The New Paper this week about Singaporean parents taking legal action against their adult children for not paying to support them financially. Meaning, their kids weren't sending them a check to pay for food or rent, so they essentially "sued" them for it. (Sorry, "sued" is the term that we Americans can understand, ha ha.)

Many of the parents win too. It's a law that falls under the Maintenance of Parents Act. In this act, adult children are forced to give money to their parents after the age of 60 if the parent cannot support themselves alone.

You Americans are scratching your heads in confusion, right? Yeah. I think my reaction was "What?! I read that wrong, didn't I?"

Nope. It's the custom here and it's enforced by law.

Coming from the US, this is a very new concept to me, as far as government involvement goes. Where I'm from, most of us are also taught to take care of our parents if they need it, but Uncle Sam never gets in our face and says "You MUST do it."

Also, I understand that most parents in the States don't require financial assistance because of things like Social Security, retirement savings and such.

However, if the need ever arose, I'm sure that the majority of Americans (that like our parents) would pitch in with no issues about it.

We do, in most cases, take care of them emotionally and physically, but that's usually the just of it. (Now I'm not talking about when they get sick, need a nursing home or long term care and so on. I'm talking everyday life after the age of 60.) We're not heathens, afterall.

Things are different on this side of the globe though. It's not only the right thing to do, it's compulsory. The only way to avoid having to write Mom and Dad a check is if you can prove that they've abandoned, abused or neglected you. If not, tough luck.

Seriously though, how do you really prove that, especially if it happened in the past?

Also, what if your parent is someone with whom you do not get along or even speak to? What if they were so bad with money that they squandered it all away gambling? What if you just simply don't have any extra cash to give out?

The article talks about three different cases of this situation. Two involve questionable parents and one involves someone they claim deserves the compensation.

I don't know though. My thinking is this: If these people were good parents to begin with, shouldn't their children want to take care of their them without having to be told to do so?

Having to get the government involved so that your children will take care of you just seems to be a giant red flag on his or her parenting skills.

But that's just my American opinion. I welcome other view points.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kumar, My Favorite Singaporean Queen

Have you heard of Kumar yet? No? Let me introduce you.

Kumar is Singapore's favorite cross-dresser. Yes, he's openly gay and dresses like a queen. Surprising for a country that bans homosexuality, right?

The guy's got balls. (And boobs.)

But that's not exactly all. He's a hilarious comedian that performs in clubs across Singapore. He covers topics that most Singaporeans would consider taboo, such as the government, sex, and homosexuality. For you Americans out there, that's a really big deal here in Singapore. People don't talk about those things —at least not in public.

I think he's hilarious. (Now that I know what he's saying. That Indian accent is a tricky one for some Americans to me.)

ABC News did a story on him about a year and a half ago, if you're interested in learning more.

I admire his wit and his bravery. Oh...and his dress.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fast and the Furious - Little Tykes edition

I saw this video on Blogadilla's site today.

And now I feel inadequate in my parking abilities. I might need this kid to come teach me how to park in the tiny parking spots in Singapore.

Let's Turn the Tables...of Food

I'm turning the tables on myself today. Because I'm always talking about the weird food I find in Asia, I decided that I needed to take a step back and look at my own culture.

I know I've already blogged about how Singaporeans find American food boring, but I wanted to dig a lil' deeper. There must be food that they find downright disgusting. I mean, even I can't stomach liver and onions or stuffed mushrooms.

I wanted to know their take on what American foods just sound downright nasty.

So I asked one of the Singaporean girls at work, who just came back from a trip to the States, to tell me what American foods sound gross to her.

Some of her responses surprised me and some didn't. Here's four of them:

1) Peanut butter and celery.

For my Singaporean friend, the thought of pairing the sweet taste of peanut butter and a vegetable just grossed her out. She also couldn't understand peanut butter and apples, peanut butter and chocolate and well, just about anything paired with peanut butter.

"You Americans put peanut butter on everything! It's everywhere! You even have peanut butter milkshakes!"

Oh my dear Singaporean friend, that's because it's delicious. Peanut butter makes anything instantly better.

2) Biscuits and Gravy

This dish literally took me 15 minutes to describe to her. She just couldn't wrap her head around it. To her, a biscuit is a cookie. Looking back, I probably should have described it as a plain scone, but oh well. I think the kicker for her was gravy as a topping. In Singapore, gravy is usually mixed in with the rest of the dish and it's also usually spicy or sweet. Definitely not creamy, milky and full of sausage chunks. Gravy is definitely not served on mashed potatoes on this part of the world. I don't even think they have mashed potatoes here. Hmmm. Never thought about that.

3) Cold pizza for breakfast

Now I realize that this could just be a weird college kid thing. Or even a weird Megan thing. But I just love cold pizza for breakfast. I like it better than hot pizza fresh out of the oven. Call me crazy, but I know at least 25 other people who do too.

My Singaporean friend does not. She turned up her nose as far as she could when I let this revelation slip out. She also does not understand my pizza and ranch dressing addiction. She and the other ladies were pretty confused the day I dipped my microwave pizza into a pool of ranch. It was kind of funny at the time. I thought one of them was going to have a heart attack.

4) Chips as a side dish.

When I bring my lunch to work, I often times will bring a sandwich and a bag of chips (American style chips, not British chips, which are really French fries.) The girls found this very confusing. In Singapore, chips are strictly a snack food item. They're not typically served as a side dish for lunch. It's a snack and that's it. They thought I was such a weirdo for confusing my food categories.

That's all she told me for now. She's going to think up more later (probably as I bring stuff in that confuses her.)

I must admit, I loved this conversation. It was so interesting to see how our culture is viewed from different eyes. If you're not an American and find one of our foods or customs weird, please send me a comment. I'd love to hear it.

Just please be nice about it. Some of you have been a little irritable lately. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fudgies to the rescue

These are little drops from heaven.

No, they're not just cookies. Please don't ever call them just cookies.

These are what diversified dessert in our house. It's nothing short of a miracle.

You see, my husband is a chocolate chip cookie man. Whenever I baked something that wasn't chocolate chip cookies, he let me know that he was disappointed. It was the only thing he requested. Like ever.

So needless to say, I'm about sick of chocolate chip cookies. I make them about twice a month. I was dying for some variety.

In comes the Fudgies.

Aaron has gone on the record to say that these are his new favorite cookie. I've already made two batches in the last week.

Thank you God.

These are so much better than the previous dessert staple of our house for many reasons:

1) They take only 4 ingredients.
2) Prep time, cook time, and cool time all take less than 30 minutes.

The third one is just a gift in itself. Baking supplies in Singapore can be pretty costly.

(*By the way, for the recipe, just click on "Fudgies" above or go to the "Bun in the Oven" blog site listed on the right)

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Want My Baby Back...Ribs

I had a bout of homesickness this weekend.

I get those every once and again. Every time they strike, I try to surround myself in as much America as I can and hope that I can trick my brain into thinking that I'm there.

It usually doesn't work, but I'll keep trying.

So on Saturday, we went to the new Chili's restaurant in Tanglin Mall.

Chili's was a good friend of mine in college. We procrastinated a lot together over El Nino Margaritas. Have you tried one yet?

You should. They're delish.

But if you're an amateur, only have one. They'll knock you on your butt and make you forget all about the paper you have to write for Western Civ.

Not that I know from experience.....Dad.

Back to Chili's in Singapore.

Here's Aaron with our free chips and salsa coupon.

And me with the baby back ribs sign.

Why is it impossible for any man to go to Chili's and not sing the "Baby Back Ribs" song from Austin Powers?

Argh! I had to listen to it all through dinner.

In case you've forgotten it, I've added it to the end of this post. I apologize ahead of time for getting it stuck in your head too. I just can't suffer alone. :)

Dinner on the other hand, was great. No, we didn't have baby back ribs. What we did have tasted and looked just like what we get at home. Same quality, same presentation, same applewood smoked bacon. We all know how I feel about bacon.

The only thing that looked different than the Chili's at home was the bill.


It made my bank account hurt. It also made me wish I was at a hawker. With a huge plate of $2 pineapple rice.

I guess that's one way to get me over the homesickness.

Austin Powers - Fat Bastard Baby Back Ribs.MP3 - Austin Powers

Friday, August 14, 2009

You Crazy Brits and Your Crazy Words

Today's conversation in the company vehicle:

Me: Why do Singaporeans fill the back window of their car with stuffed animals? It looks like Toys R' Us threw up in their car.

Singaporean girl from work: I don't know. Maybe they want it to feel more like home. You know, give it a cozy feel. Not me. When I had a car, I kept it very clean, lah. I did not have stuff all over.

Me: You sound like my husband. He likes cars to be spotless.

Singaporean: Oh yeah. I kept car very clean, lah. But, I kept a lot of supply in the boot. Like paper plates, plastic fork, paper towel. Just in case, lah.

Me: Uh huh. Wait, what's a booth? Are you meaning the trunk?

Singaporean: Yes, lah. I forget, you Americans call it a trunk. We call it a boot. (Her accent makes the word sound like "booth" I've realized at this point.)

Me: Oh. Ha! Is that a British thing or a Singlish thing?

Singaporean: Oh no, it's British. We use many British words in Singapore.

Ok, that's it.

What other crazy things have you Brits taught the Singaporeans? I thought we spoke the same language here. Yet I keep learning words that are supposedly from the English language that I've never heard in conversation.

I know I'm from the middle of nowhere-ish, but come on. A boot? How does that part of the car resemble a shoe in any way?

Help a girl out.

(Update: Ok, I got curious. I found this. Maybe this chart will help me learn all your crazy talk.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Batmobile is in the Shop

The Dark Knight had to resort to his other means of transportation in Singapore today.

Either that or the recession is even hitting our fictional superheroes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Because pooping on the wall wasn't enough

The geckos are playing a new game at the Spreer house.

It's called "Lose your tail on the kitchen floor".

Apparently, it's loads of fun....for everyone who doesn't actually prepare food in the kitchen.

Stupid geckos.

I'm almost not above killing them.

But I just can't do it. Everytime I try, I think of that damn lizard on the Geico commercial.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That's Not Milk

There are two things a girl from Kansas knows better than most things: quality beef and delicious, fresh milk.

It's farm country afterall. Most of this stuff is in our back yard...or just down the road a lil' ways.

We know fresh.

We know cows.

The other day, Singapore tried to pull a fast one on this Kansas girl.

It tricked her into thinking she was buying milk.

It looks like milk, right? Don't let it fool you too. It was a horrible, awful lie. A lie that I didn't realize until it was all over my Honey Nut Cheerios.

A sad, sad day.

It was as if I'd just poured coffee creamer into my innocent cereal. My milk-loving heart broke into a million pieces with the first bite.

Then I flipped the carton around to see just what on Earth I'd put into my body.

Do you see that?! Milk solids?! The main ingredient is milk solids!

That just ain't right. (See, I was so upset, it brought out the "Kansas" in me.)

Not only that, but they've added flavoring. Since when does plain milk need flavoring? I thought it did just fine on its own.

Oh no no. It made me so sad.

I should have known better. It's made in Singapore. I don't see many cows 'round these parts.

I miss you, you beautiful Kansas cows. Come visit soon...and bring me some milk.

Monday, August 10, 2009

No one ever called them pretty

Sorry to frighten you. These are rambutans.

Rambutans are a common fruit in Southeast Asia and you can find them all over the wet markets and grocery stores. These were given to me. I've never had the nerve to buy them.

Because they're ugly. And they scare the bejesus out of me.

I don't mean to be rude, but it's true.

They're spiky and hairy. They also smell like nothing.

I have a hard time trusting food that smells like nothing.

Opening up the fruit doesn't help with my distrust either.

It looks like an alien egg. Can't you just imagine seeing some pod person emerging from this thing in a few weeks?

Nothing about this whole situation screams "Eat me."

I was told that you must also avoid the seed in the middle. It either tastes bitter or does something bad to you. I can't remember.

I was peer pressured to try one of these demon fruits at work. Shocking, I know. Those Singaporean women are relentless. They almost held me down and shoved it down my throat.

Ok, not really. That's a lie.

But I really didn't want to try it. Then they called me a silly American girl.

That did it. I had to prove that I'm not silly.

So I ate one...and I liked it. I really didn't want to like it either.

It had the texture of a peeled grape and was even sweeter. It was quite nice. I think I ended up eating three or four.

Then the hairy outside started to freak me out again and I had to throw the rest out.

Like I said, I'm a work in progress. I need baby steps, people.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cheeky Chocolates

I talk about food a lot, don't I? Please excuse me, I'm a Heffley. We love food.

But, I must tell you about this lovely cafe I went to yesterday.

It's called Cheeky Chocolates and it's on Upper Thomson Road. I'm kind of in love with it.

My Singaporean friend from work took me there after I confided in her about my chocolate addiction. This trip did nothing but make it worse.

We walked in the door and saw chocolate everywhere.

Seriously. Everywhere.

It's in a glass case at the register. It's on the tables. It's all over the menu. It's in the air. Oh the smell. I could breathe that air forever.

Like I said though, it's all over the menu. They have spicy hot chocolate, frozen hot chocolate, handmade chocolates, chocolate layered cakes, chocolate sundaes and the list goes on. I was completely overtaken with glee. It's the happiest menu I've ever seen. I wanted to hug it.

But I didn't. That would have been weird.

So anyways...

My friend ordered the chocolate crepes. Check out these bad boys.

She let me try a bite. It was trouble. I'm going to have to go back there just to get these dang things. They're just amazing.

I ordered the warm chocolate cake
and it smelled so good that I accidentally ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry. But honestly, could you resist finding that gooey center? I totally couldn't. Gooey chocolate is my weakness.

I'm pretty sure that I will be a frequent visitor of this cute little chocolate paradise. The temptation is just too great to resist.

They even have non-chocolate food items on the menu so that you can have some dinner or lunch with your dessert. Or better yet, an excuse to tell your husband why you really want to go back once a week.

"No really babe, I'm just going for the mushroom crepes. I don't even want chocolate cake."

But that's just crazy talk. Everyone knows chocolate cake is a perfectly wonderful dinner.

And when I actually do weigh 300 pounds, I will also be eating those words...with my chocolate cake.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I must be turning Singaporean

This is what's on the menu at McDonald's here in Singapore.

My American friends are going to think I'm crazy......but it sounds kinda good.

Singapore is a bad influence on my American taste buds.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Seoul" Food

Saturday night, when the hacking and sniffles subsided, Aaron and I had a date night. We don't do this often and when we do it's a pretty special occasion.

This night's occasion? The Hangover was released in Singapore cinemas.

Ha. I'm not even kidding.

We were that excited.

I know it's not exactly a holiday, but we had just endured two months of reading our friends' comments about the movie on Facebook. It was almost like torture. It's like having all of your friends talk about Chipotle when you live in Singapore where it doesn't exist.

Oh wait. They do that too.

Stupid friends.

So back to happier things.

Our date night consisted of trying out the new Seoul Garden restaurant in Northpoint Mall. It's Korean BBQ and it's very delicious.

You pick out your raw food, veggies and spices. Then you bring it back to your table to cook it. Each table has this hole in the middle.

You simmer a soup in the center while your cook your food in the cast iron ring around it.

This dinner taught us a couple of things:

1) Ang Mohs aren't so good at making soup. There were no ingredients for potato or chicken noodle. We were at a loss.

2) Ang Mohs also don't know what 75% of the ingredients are at the raw bar in an Asian restaurant. I think I saw big, long things of okra, but aren't you supposed to chop those things up?

(Ang Moh is how the Singaporeans refer to caucasian people, by the way.)

After we finished the edible part of dinner, which consisted of meat, onions and peppers, we pretty much had to dump out all of the soup. Apparently, soy sauce and salty broth don't equal edible soup.

We had fun though. What we knew how to cook was really really good.

Next time though, we need to either bring a Singaporean with us or look some stuff up.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dr. delicious Pepper medicine

Finally, I think I'm better. I spent the last three days in bed cuddling close to these guys:

And Gossip Girl, but I won't get into the drama of that. (By the way, I love Chuck Bass.)

These are the drugs that the doctor in Singapore told me to take. I sent my dear, sweet husband to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription and he returned with a grocery bag of this stuff.

He even brought me back some briyani rice for dinner. He's a keeper.

With all this medicine, I couldn't even keep track of what to take and when. So, I kinda just took one of everything every once in a while.

But the one thing that I'm sure cured my ailment, was this:

This, my friends, is the coveted "Dr. Pepper" medicine. Remember the conversation I had with my coworkers about Dr. Pepper a couple months back? This is THE medicine. It tastes just like Dr. delicious Pepper.

I'm convinced it saved my life.

My feelings about this have nothing to do with the amount of codeine this stuff has in it either. :)