Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Singapore Kids Attraction: Central Fire Station

Central Fire Station Singapore

A friend of mine brought to my attention regarding Central Fire Station open house every Saturday 9:00am - 11:00am and thought it would be nice to bring our kids there together. Unfortunately, we seldom get to go back Singapore on a Saturday nowadays and even if we are in Singapore on a Saturday the timing is really tight for us to make it with two small late riser kids. 

Civil Defense Heritage Gallery at Central Fire Station

So, during my last trip back to Singapore, I brought my kids together with my 5 year old cousin to the Central Fire Station located at 62 Hill Street (nearest MRT Station is City Hall) which is directly opposite Funan Digital Mall and if you park there, there is a covered overhead bridge (accessible from Level 2) connecting Funan Mall to the other side of the road where Central Fire Station is

We reached the Central Fire Station at noon, which means we missed the fire station open house and my kids didn't get the chance to see how the fire fighters respond during an emergency or try to sit on the Red Rhino but the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery was entertaining interactive and educational enough for us. 

Fire fighter helmets on display

I love the display of the vintage fire fighters helmets near the entrance, and the kids were quite excited looking at the old fire engines, from horse powered ones to the modern ones, we even got to sit in one of the modern fire engines used in Singapore.

Singapore Kids
Horse-drawn fire engine

Look at the taaalll ladder!

The visit was important to me as my 4 year old was learning about occupation at his kindergarten that week and one of the occupation he was learning was a Fireman, with this visit, he had a clear view of what is a fire engine, fire hydrant, fire extinguishers, what does a fireman has to wear to protect himself and what are the things that a fire fighter do when saving the public. 

My kids pretending to be firemen

This is so classic!

I love the fact that through the exhibits I can explain to my child how people can get trapped when a fire occurs, and how fire fighters uses a thermal camera and dogs to find people in rubbles, how people can get hurt in fires and how paramedics rushes them to the hospital for care. 

My 5 year old cousin putting out fire using water mist technology

What it takes to find people beneath rubbles

All in all, it was an educational visit for my kids to learn how dangerous fires are, how brave fire fighters are and how big their responsibilities are. It was a quick visit though, 20-40 minutes are enough so I guess you would want to swing by this place after a visit to Fort Canning Park to seek respite from the scorching Singapore weather.  

This is one grouchy fire fighter!

Civil Defense Heritage Gallery is open Tuesdays-Sundays 10.00am to 5.00pm (free admission) and if you would like a guided tour of 30m high Lookout Tower previously used to spot fires in Singapore, it is available only on Tuesdays and Fridays 7.00pm-8.00pm  

Map of Central Fire Station:

View Larger Map

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Indoor Playground Singapore: Kiddy Fun at Turf City

indoor playground in singapore
Kiddy Fun at Turf City

The visit to this indoor playground was an impromptu visit after spending about 30 minutes with the kids at Jacob Ballas Garden where my kids did not get to enjoy the playground since my concrete-jungle raised kids are adverse to having sand on their toes. A quick google search shows that Turf City is around the area and hey Mommy has always wanted to check out Fidgets (an indoor playgrround at Turf City). So, we called for a cab and headed to Turf City. The taxi fare from Jacob Ballas Garden to Turf City was less than S$9.00 including the booking fee. 

It was drizzling that day and Turf City was under renovation though the tenants are still open for business. The taxi stand (although covered) was not connected to a covered walkway that leads to Turf City and the Turf City was boarded up as such that you have to access different entrances to go to different tenant groups. Unfortunately, the taxi driver unknowingly dropped me 2 entrances away from the entrance that leads to Fidgets and with a 4 year old holding my right hand and 2 year old on my left arm, with the rain and the puddles and the construction obstructions, my nerves were starting to fray.    

At the covered walkway that connected the parking area to Turf City, I saw a Eurasian young mommy that looked like she's familiar with Turf City, so I asked her where might the entrance to Fidgets be? To which she replied that it is the first entrance on the left side (if you are standing at the Carpark side of the walkway facing Turf City) walk straight in until you find Giant Supermarket and take the lift (beside Giant) to the 4th floor. Relieved that this unpleasant-walking-in-the-rain-with-two-kids experience is going to end soon, I quickly headed to the entrance. 

The seating area at Kiddy Fun

Up on the 4th floor, I saw another sign to Fidgets leading to a long corridor on my left and another indoor playground called Kiddy Fun just on my right. I didn't have the patience to explore that corridor and head straight for Kiddy Fun. It seemed a cheery enough place, though a bit small if you come when crowded (but then again who goes to Turf City?) the staff are all very helpful, you can just relaxed at the super comfy seating area reading provided magazines and they will look out for your kids for a bit until they are familiar with the play equipments. The downside is they don't have a washroom (only a baby changing station with no tap, just hand sanitizer and you have to have your own wipes). But the kind staff looked after my 4 year old while I cleaned my 2 year old in the washroom at no extra charge. 

My kids had fun at the indoor playground though I think that it is lacking slides and climbing areas for my 4 year old but he really enjoyed the swing and there is a play area with other toys such as wooden cars, tea sets, kitchen utensils, tools and doctor set. They were engrossed playing with that. You have to go to the counter to request for those and pay a small deposit of $2 to ensure that you return all the pieces back to the counter after playing. It was really fun, but I'm not sure how that will work when you have other kids playing around at the same time with your kids, how are you gong to prevent them from playing with some of the pieces and ensure that they won't misplace any of it?

kids indoor playground singapore
The toddler dedicated area at Turf City's indoor playground

Kiddy Fun also has a small dedicated area for kids under 18 months old but my kids still played with it. The entrance fee costed S$16 per child (all day - non peak) and I think that it was a nice refuge from the rain for 2 hours. My 4 year old didn't make much fuss when I said it was time to go while my 2 year old still wanted to play with the tea set. All in all, it was a nice place for kids under 5 year old, to spend 2 hours or less, if you are around the area. Not really worth it to go out of your way just to visit this place.  Below are some pics I snapped most of it using my mobile.

family activities singapore


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Asian Noodle Recipe: Soto Singapore

(Untuk Versi Bahasa Melayu, Sila Skrol Ke Bawah)

Today, I felt like eating Soto Ayam for break fast, but had difficulty in finding the spice mix for Soto at Tesco and Cold Storage. Saw a lot of Kurma Mix and Adabi soup powder, but hey I am not making Kurma Ayam nor am I a huge fan of Adabi soup powder. So, I decided bravely to just wing it my style, was quite pleasantly surprised that the taste came out exactly like the Soto spice mix that my housemate's mom used to pack for her while we were studying in Egypt, so that we can cook Asian style dishes back then and not miss home so much.Therefor, I am so keeping this Mee Soto Recipe. (It's called Soto Ayam if you eat the chicken gravy with rice cakes and Mee Soto if you eat it with noodles or vermicelli - I used spaghetti here btw). Soto Ayam is always eaten with sambal kicap (Spicy Sweet Soya Sauce) and Bergedel (Asian Style Potatoes). I have included these two recipes below too.

Ayam Soto Recipe
Malay Food : Mee Soto yummy..

My Asian Soto Noodle Recipe is thus as such:

The Soto Ayam Recipe:

1 whole chicken - cut into 8
3 cloves of garlic
1 big onion
1 inch young ginger
1.5 inch galangal - thinly sliced
(blend all of the above)
1 stalk lemongrass - bruised
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
2 star anise
3 cardamoms
2 tsp fennel powder
2 tsp cumin power (I used Allagappas brand)
4 tsp coriander powder
water as needed

How to Cook the Soto Ayam (Chicken Gravy) :

1. Saute the blended ingredients with a bit of oil, then add in lemongrass, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, cardamoms, fennel, cumin and coriander powder until the aroma wafts the air.
2. Add in chicken and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.
3. Add in water to cover the chicken or slightly more.
4. Add in salt and cook until chicken is tender.
5. Feel free to add in more water if the gravy becomes too thick.

The Spicy Sweet Soya Sauce Recipe:

3 cloves garlic
1/2 medium onion
4 bird's eyes chillies (or you can use green chillies too just use slightly more)
5 tbsp sweet soya sauce
juice of half a lime

How to make the sauce?

1. Pound the garlic, onion and chillies on the mortar. (For a more authentic taste, or you can just blend it)
2. Add in sweet soya sauce and lime juice.

Bergedel or Asian Style Potatoes Recipe:

2 medium potatoes
2 tbsp crsipy fried shallots
pinch of black pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves

1 egg (beaten) + pinch of salt

Asian Style Potatoes: Bergedel 

How To Make Asian Style Potatoes?

1. Boil the potatoes till cooked and then crush them on the mortar till soft.
2. Mix the pounded potatoes with crispy fried shallots, pepper, salt and coriander leaves.
3. Make the potatoes into small oval shapes.
4. Heat oil in the pan, dip the potatoes in the beaten egg and deep fry till golden.

How to Serve Asian Soto Noodle?

Usually, the ever diligent Asian cooks will shred the chicken and will sprinkle it generously on top of the gravy  over the rice cakes or noodles, but as you can see from the picture, yours truly is not a diligent cook haha.. So, what I did was, get the noodles, pour the gravy with a piece of whole chicken, add in the potatoes (one or two max)  skipped the beans sprouts (cos i am not a big fan of it), add in a dollop of spicy sweet soya sauce, sprinkle some chopped parsley and scallion and some crispy fried shallots... and... wallah.. your Asian Style Soto Noodle is ready to be served!

More Recipes:

noodle recipes
Dan Dan Inspired Noodle
fried udon recipe
Fried Udon

Malay Version:

Resepi Soto
My simple mee soto recipe

Buka puasa hari ini, terasa macam nak makan Mee Soto, cuba cari-cari di pasar raya Tesco dan Cold Storage, tak jumpa pula rempah soto.. yang banyak tu rempah kurma dan sup hmm.. kalau letak rempah kurma, rasa mee kurma, kalau rempah sup adabi tu, memang saya tak berapa suka rasanya, jadi nekad aje lah buat rempah soto sendiri.. tak sangka boleh menjadi, yummy.. sehingga menjilat jari :) jadi tulislah n3 supaya tak lupa :)

Resepi Kuah Soto Ayam:

1 ekor ayam -dipotong 8
3 ulas bawang putih
1biji bawang besar
1 inci halia
1.5 inci lengkuas -dihiris halus
(kisar semua bahan-bahan di atas)
1 batang serai - dititik
1 batang kayu manis
4 biji bunga cengkih
2 biji bunga lawang
3 biji buah pelaga 
2 sdt serbuk jintan manis
2 sdt serbuk jintan putih Allagappas 
4 sdt serbuk ketumbar
air secukupnya

Cara-cara memasak kuah soto ayam:

1. Tumiskan bahan kisar dengan sedikit minyak, masukkan serai, kayu manis, bunga lawang, bunga cengkih, biji pelaga, serbuk jintan dan ketumbar hingga wangi.
2. Masukkan ayam dan biarkan selama 5-10 minit.
3. Tambahkan air hingga paras ayam atau lebih sedikit.
4. Tambah garam dan biar mendidih hingga ayam empuk. 
5. Tambah air jika kuah terlalu pekat.

Resepi Sambal Kicap Soto:

3 ulas bawang putih
1/2 biji bawang besar
4 cili padi
5 sdm kicap manis
sedikit perahan air limau nipis

Cara-cara membuat sambal kicap soto:

1. Tumbuk bawang putih, bawang besar dan cili padi.
2. Tambahkan kicap dan perahan air limau.

Resepi Bergedel

2 biji kentang sederhana besar
2 sdm bawang goreng
secubit lada hitam
2 sdm daun ketumbar yang dihiris halus

1 biji telur (dipukul) + garam 

My simple bergedel tanpa daging or ayam

Cara-cara membuat bergedel:

1. Rebus kentang hingga empuk,kemudian tumbuk hingga lumat.
2. Campurkan kentang yang ditumbuk dengan bawang goreng, lada hitam, garam dan daun ketumbar.
3. Kepal-kepalkan kentang menjadi bentuk bergedel (bujur dan leper)
3. Pukul 1 biji telur bersama secubit garam dalam mangkuk berasingan.
4. Panaskan minyak dalam kuali, celupkan bergedel ke dalam bancuhan telur sebelum digoreng hingga keemasan. 

Hidangkan kuah soto (selalunya isi ayam di carik-carik tapi saya malas) dengan mee atau nasi himpit, bergedel, taugeh (saya tak letak sebab tak suka taugeh),sambal kicap dan taburkan hirisan daun bawang, daun sup dan bawang goreng

Mahalabia @ Blueberry Pudding Recipe With Strawberry Syrup

resepi pencuci mulut
Delicious and refreshing Mahalabia :)
Today, after procrastinating for so long, I managed to try out the Blueberry Mahalabia With Strawberry Syrup Dessert inspired by an episode from My Kitchen Rules. Googling for the recipe was quite easy. Following the given recipe was another story. I have eaten my fair share of mahalabia but never a blueberry mahalabia before. The recipe given was suspicious in many ways:

1) The amount of sugar (220g) used for the mahalabia, if you consider the fact that you are going to eat it with strawberry syrup (another 220g of sugar) , how sickeningly sweet is this dessert supposed to be? 

2) The other thing that is going to surely fail your attempt in making this dessert ( if you follow the instructions to the T) is to mix 1/3cup corn flour with just 2 tbsp of water (how thick is that?) and then add it to the milk and sugar mixture that you have brought to boil. Any cook worth her salt knows that that is instant curdling disaster! 

3) The strawberry syrup uses 250g strawberries, 220g sugar and 125g water.. that makes the syrup either watery OR you are going to spend a pretty long time stirring the mixture till it reduces to the right consistency. 

easy dessert recipes
Blueberry Dessert With Strawberry Syrup Yummy!
In light of the above, I decided to just go ahead and take the Blueberry Mahalabia with Strawberry Syrup Recipe from My Kitchen Rules as a very rough guide and wing it with my own Mahalabia-making experience. My blueberry milk pudding recipe with strawberry syrup thus became like this:

Mahalabia Recipe:

125gm blueberries
1 tbsp honey
4 cups milk
7 tbsp corn starch
7 tbsp sugar

Strawberry Syrup Recipe:

375gm chopped strawberry
slightly less than 1 and 1/4 cup castor sugar
135ml water


Sliced Strawberries and Whole Raspberries as desired

To make the Blueberry Mahalabia:

1) Heat up the saucepan and put in the blueberries and honey and stir over low fire till mixture is soft and pulpy.
2) In a separate saucepan (do not turn on the fire first) whisk the milk, corn starch and sugar together, then turn on the fire and stir continuously till the mixture thickens and feel slightly heavy (if you are unsure, watch this video here)  Add in the blueberry mixture and scoop into your desired serving glass 2/3 full. Refrigerate overnight.

To make the strawberry syrup:

1) Mix all the ingredients and stir over low heat till the mixture reduces by half or more according to your preference. Refrigerate till ready to serve.

This was my desired consistency.. yours could be different

When serving:

Pour the strawberry syrup over the Mahalabia and garnish with a few slices of strawberries and raspberries.

P/S: If you find that the Mahalabia is a bit soft for your liking, you might want to add a bit more corn starch.

Malay Version:

Resepi Pencuci Mulut : Mahalabia Blueberi Dengan Sos Strawberi

Hari tu ada nonton rancangan My Kitchen Rules di Astro, nampak pencuci mulut Mahalabia ni macam menyelerakan, jadi hari ni dapatah cuba resepi di My Kitchen Rules. Sekali tengok.. resepi macam lain macam je..kalau ikut resepi asal memang sah tak akan menjadilah pencuci mulutMahalabia ku.. akhir sekali kita buat resepi ikut pengalaman makan Mahalabia di Mesir :)

Resepi Pencuci Mulut Mahalabia Blueberi Dengan Sos Strawberi ku adalah seperti berikut:

Resepi Mahalabia:

125gm blueberi
1 sdm madu
4 cwn susu segar
7 sdm tepung jagung
7 sdm gula pasir

Resepi Sos Strawberi:

375gm strawberi yang di potong 4 
Kurang sikit dari 1 dan 1/4 cwn gula pasir (kalau ikut betul2 takut termanis)
135ml air

Bahan Hiasan:

Strawberi yang dihiris dan raspberi untuk hiasan (tak guna raspberi pun takpe sebab mahal nah di Malaysia ni, tapi strawberi tu guna Korean atau US ye, kalau Cameron Highland tak jamin jadi ke tak) 

Cara-cara Membuat Blueberi Mahalabia:

1) Panaskan pan dan masukkan blueberi dan madu dan kacau di atas api yang kecil hingga blueberi lembut dan 2/3 dari blueberi yang anda guna sudah separuh hancur.
2) Di atas pan yang berasingan (jangan hidupkan api dahulu) kacau susu, tepung jagung dan gula kemudian kacau terus di atas api yang sederhana sehingga campuran menjadi pekat sedikit dan terasa berat. (Jika kurang pasti lihat video asal di sini)  Masukkan blueberi dan tuangkan di dalam gelas hidangan anda hingga 2/3 penuh. Letak di peti sejuk semalaman. 

Cara-cara Membuat Sos Strawberi:

1) Campurkan semua bahan dan kacau di atas api kecil hingga campuran pekat dan tinggal hanya separuh atau lebih mengikut citarasa anda. Simpan di peti sejuk hingga diperlukan.  

Cara Menghidangkan Pencuci Mulut Blueberi Mahalabia Dengan Sos Strawberi:

Tuangkan sos strawberi di atas Mahalabia dan hiaskan dengan hirisan strawberi dan raspberi..

P/S: Jika anda dapati Mahalabia agak lembut, lebihkan sedikit tepung jagung bila membuatnya kali kedua :)

You May Also Like:

Easy Chocolate Mahalabia Recipe

Singapore Kids Attraction: Jacob Garden Singapore

Jacob Garden Mini Waterfall

A children garden in Singapore.. a unique and interactive fun place where kids can discover how plants provide for their daily needs..that's how NParks describe Jacob Ballas Children Garden.. intrigued.. I decided to give Jacob Park  a visit with my children last Thursday. "Where are going Mommy?" Asked my older son and I answered simply "to a playground my dear". Happy with my answer, my kids hopped into the taxi excitedly. 

My Kids at Jacob Garden's entrance

Jacob Ballas Garden is situated at Bukit Timah and is open daily except on Mondays (unless its a PH) 8.00 am - 7.00 pm (last admission 6.30pm). From the website, I saw that there is a mini waterfall, 2 playgrounds (one of which is a treehouse) and a water play area.. Mommy is very confident that the kids will find Jacob Garden very interesting. Mommy was only half correct..

There are a few reasons why you mostly see expats or tourists here:

The treehouse playground at Jacob Children Garden
1) If your local kid is like my adverse-to-sand-in-my-toes son, he'd probably prefer the HDB playgrounds with the rubbermat ground.

The other playground at Jacob Ballas Children Garden

2) The design of the playground is too simple, not enough slides, no bridges, climbing areas and what nots, plus if one is taken by someone, you have to wait your turn. 

3) The waterplay area is just some fountains spraying water in the air, some shopping centres have water play areas that put Jacob Ballas Garden's water play area to shame. 

The Photosynthesis Activity Area where most of it are broken
4) The interactive photosynthesis activity area is spoiled and my kids didn't get to fully visualize what was supposed to be conveyed. 

That being said, the park is a nice place to stroll in though it can get pretty hot in Singapore's weather. I managed to show the kids some banana trees, calabash tree and even a fig tree! (I didn't know a fig tree can grow in Singapore)

The beautiful tree canopy, the trees are more than 100 years old if my memory serves me correctly

The Floating Platform where you can see water plants up close, there are even  few papyrus  plants (ambitious yes)

Taking cover from the heat at the kids size traditional huts :
I would have liked the stream near the mini waterfall to have some other colorful fishes other than the black catfish  and the water plants exhibits near the floating platform to have more variety and prominently labelled so that common people like me who know nuts about plants can answer more specifically when my kids ask "what's that?" rather than just answer generally "that's a water plant"

Look kids; banana tress! But why are the bananas green Mommy? That was my 4 year old question.

Look Kids another fruit tree! What fruit is it Mommy? Ermm.. let's find the sign.. ooohh Calabash! Never seen one before.

I didn't get to explore the spice garden as my kids kept asking for the playground with no sand. So, it's straight out from the children's garden, call for a cab (save this no +6565521111, you will need to call for cab since not many cab drive pass Jacob Ballas Garden's entrance) and straight to the nearest indoor playground  at Turf City (read about it here.)

Oh look a fig tree! Mommy was super excited and wondered whether she can pick and eat the fruit just like in Churchill Island. 

Sadly, this fig tree still is a young one it seems and the fruits doesn't look ripe

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Indoor Playground Kuala Lumpur Near Ikea

KL Kids Fun at Ikano Power Centre: The Small Kids Zone

Indoor Play at Kids E-World

Kids E-World recently opened at Ikano Power Centre (a shopping mall adjacent to Ikea; Mutiara Damansara) next to Toys R Us at the top most level of Ikano Power Centre (IPC). The public kiddy rides and the inflatables run by Kids Art and Fun Zone are no longer there. And the pink castle which was my son's firm favorite has now been relocated inside Kids E-world compound which means no more free play while daddy or mummy go and do some fast shopping.

Kids Play Area in KL; the giant octopus

Still at the smaller kids area, Mikail 's fave is this mini roller car

On the bright side, the indoor playground is very cheerful and interesting. My kids were hooked from day 1 and kept asking to go to Kids E-world, though I only take them during weekdays to avoid the crowd. The area is also split into 2 zones, 1 for the bigger kids and another more suitable for the not so adventurous ones. The party area is spacious and colorful though the cafe is near to the smaller kids zone which makes it difficult for you to watch over your kids if they go to the bigger kids area. 

KL Kids Indoor Play: Umair trying out the rocking elephant

KL Kids Attraction: My 2 year old confidently crawling in the tunnel 

KL Kids play: In the balloon area but sadly the balloons are not many and some are partially deflated

A few things that I really like about this indoor playground is that they play nursery ryhmes and not unsuitable pop music, the decor is bright and cheerful and most importantly they do not have restrictive height limit that requires us parents to be on all fours when following the kids up on the equipment! This is one indoor playground that reduces the possibility of parents returning with a backache. Major plus point in my opinion! 

The shooting balls area

weeee.. what a lot of balls!

Admission fee is RM30 for all day entry on a weekday, which is a tad expensive when you have two boys like me, so I purchased a weekday voucher of RM100 for 5 visits that works out to RM20 per entry per child 
My 4 year old love this tho he still can't quite get up on it on his own

Loving the colors :)

CP Arcade is also scheduled to open soon next to Kids E-World and I think my 4 year old will be hooked with their bumper cars then. He is sorely missing the Go-Kart that used to be in front of Tokutokuya shop. 

KL Kids Activities: Parents, check out the head space! No need to bend around here.. 
The indoor play must have: slides that leads to a pool of balls 

If RM30 per entry is on the high side for you, fret not Kids Art and Fun Zone is still open at the other end of Level 2 of Ikano Power Centre next to Pet Safari.