For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I heart being snack monitor

I remember returning home each summer from London to Sunny Singapore with new ideas in my recipe box I could hardly wait to try out for my family and friends. There was bread and butter pudding, fish pie, shepherd's pie, baked lemon chicken, and Italian chicken stew, to name a few. There was even that first summer, when I made Yorkshire pudding, inviting raised eyebrows from mum and sis. Many of these recipes have since won their permanent spots in my cooking sensibilities (not the Yorkshire pudding, though!); they have become my go-to dishes, tried, tested and true. It was very much thanks to my housemates and other friends who I'd cooked with and for, who taught me those recipes, some of whom were influenced by the food of the land - British food.

It's just been a short six months here so far, but long enough for me to suspect that I am going to return home with more recipe ideas to pull out of my apron pockets. This time, it is thanks to my classmates, and something called snack time.

Never underestimate the importance of snack time. This is especially when classes run in three hour blocks, and more so when those three hours are between the hours of 4 and 7 pm. So we take turns bringing snack in, yum!

Snack in Singapore in the middle of a three hour class (I am thinking of PD sessions at work) would be some local kueh, curry puffs, finger sandwiches, and the absolutely necessary teh and kopi. Here, it didn't take me long to find out that snack here is synonymous with chips, dips, cookies, and fruit. It's a simple enough formula to catch onto, but versatile enough to play around with and never yet get bored.

I'm surprised at the variety that can come from so simple a template! For example:
Chips: Corn chips of all shapes and sizes (I like the ones that are in a little bowl shape, made just for scooping chunky salsa dip!), pretzels, pretzel chips, chez mix, crackers
Dips: Salsa (all types!), hummus, greek goddess, baked spinach and artichoke, and even cookie dough dip!
Cookies: Okay, sometimes, this can be in the form of a baked bar, like brownies. We've had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, Gooey Butter Cake (made by my classmate from St Louis), raspberry jam diagonals, strawberry and blueberry buckle, scotcheroos and peanut butter balls
Fruit: Clementines, apples, bananas, grapes, and baby carrots
Last semester, I thought it'd be fun to prepare something with Singaporean flavor for my classmates when it came to my turn as snack monitor. So, Tim and I made spring rolls for the first time! I also brought in Wang Wang rice crackers from the Asian store and tangerines. (See how I tried to use the template?)

All wrapped up, not yet fried

When my turn as snack monitor arrived again earlier this week, though, I was just not feeling up to learning how to make curry puffs and all the fiddly preparation involved. So, to the template I went:

Chips: Pretzel chips
Dip: Homemade hummus from Simply Recipes
Cookie: Chocolate cake from Smitten Kitchen
Fruit: Celery sticks and baby carrots
I'm finding myself taking quite a liking to the chips and dips idea after all. I've never been one to munch on baby carrots or apple slices for snack, but I have found that raw veggies and hummus can genuinely taste quite good. I've bookmarked quite a few dip recipes on Pinterest, so if you get a dinner invitation anytime soon (read: after August, when we finally get home), you know what's for starters!

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