Lunar New Year In A Foreign Land

So the madness began last weekend. I was shopping at Costco, no there wasn’t anything that suggest that Chinese New Year was a couple of days away, we had plenty of reds though, but it was because Valentine’s day was round the corner.

So Costco had these huge Caribbean Sweet pineapples selling at less than 3 bucks which really reminded me of my mother’s pineapple tarts. She made them every year during this time.

And I thought I should have learned my lesson after my Bak Chang incident, never to underestimate my mom’s effort.

Unfortunately memory like this was short and before I knew it, I was at the check out counter and the cashier was looking at me in amazement. I told him yeah, I am taking all 5 of them.

My mother used to grate a dozen of them, using a grater, manually. So I thought, it’s only less than half of what she used to grate and these days, she doesn’t even use a grater, she has a juicer which separates the juice from the pulp and I have my magic bullet to do the job.

I soon realised my magic bullet didn’t quite work like a juicer. I gave up and ripped off the tag for my brand new grater, which was meant for grating cheese and that was the beginning of a tormenting workout.

Just 2 pineapples on and my arms turned sore and jelly. Lesson recapped.

Luckily my husband was home and he helped clear up the mess that I had started. I spent the rest of the day standing over the stove, cooking pineapple jam.

Yes. it took me a day, to have the pineapple and juice reduced to jam. I was exhausted when it was finally done and everything else had to be left till next day.

It took me 2 days to make 2 jars of pineapple tarts.

After the day I made pineapple tarts, an Arctic snowstorm came our way. Schools were closed because the city we were in wasn’t prepared for snowy days ! I was told the last time it snowed here was like 20 years ago ?! Roads were closed and traffic was in a mess.

Earlier that morning, before all the madness began, I had to head out to get some grocery because I wasn’t sure how long we would be trapped home. The storm came earlier than forecasted and I had to drive back in what known as sleet or freezing rain.

I couldn’t get my windshield wiper to work because droplets of ice had formed on my windshield (I later found out that I needed to blow hot air onto my windshield). Visibility was poor , I almost had to stick my head out of the window to see where I was driving. Luckily I didn’t venture far and managed to get home safely.

For the next 2 days while we were home bound. I got into some serious baking.

I attempted to bake my husband’s favourite Kueh Lapis. It failed miserably on looks but the boys couldn’t stop eating them. There were so many recipes out there and mine was a mishmash from different sources because I really wanted a healthier version with less eggs and sugar.

And I baked some really good melt-in-the-mouth (yet with a crunch of cane sugar) walnut cookies which I adapted from here. I actually halved the amount of oil and used 3/4 amount of cane sugar instead of castor sugar. I suspect there is some mistake to this recipe. Can’t imagine using the amount of oil that was stated in the recipe.

I took the Almond Cookie recipe from the same website as well. Because icing sugar was used, the texture was a bit different from the walnut cookies.

After 3 days of baking, our festivity corner had been well stocked. I packed some in recycled boxes to let our friends try them. They were given a short introduction to Chinese New Year and the wonderful snacks that we eat. Surprisingly, they seemed to love the ugly looking Kueh Lapis most !

Because schools were closed and my husband needn’t had to go work, we skyped with my family back home and did the virtual Lo Hei. It almost felt like Chinese New Year.

Here’s to good health and prosperity in the year of horse !




  1. fernoftheforest says:

    You’re so inspiring to have done all that. Your guests must be very impressed and family very happy.

    I’ve canned my pineapple tart baking. A surprise jar arrived the very next day that I thought about it. 😀

    Btw, it’s my first time seeing the changes on your site on the laptop. Love the colours and layout.

    • Rachel says:

      Wow u are so lucky to have a surprise jar waiting for you !!! did they remain in tact ? the last time I had love letters sent to me, they became crumbs !

      And thanks for the feedback on the new look of my site … I have been procrastinating… glad I finally got it done !

  2. Lyn lee says:

    Well done! Your family is very blessed.

    Btw, my aunt shared a secret about pineapple jam. Apparently you can cook it in a traditional rice cooker (the kind where the whole lid can be removed) and need not spend hours stirring over the stove!

  3. Adeline says:

    Gosh I feel so ashamed of myself now! We live within walking distance of Chinatown, but there isn’t much of a CNY mood there either. Not a single CNY goodie in sight, but I didn’t try to make any myself either. Good on you for doing so much! Happy CNY to you and your family. 🙂

    • malmal says:

      I think it would be very challenging to bake with younger kid like yours ! Don’t beat yourself up over this ! Here’s wishing you and your family a very happy CNY !

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