What is conservation?

The natural world is essential for our survival. Nature provides us with air, water, food and medicine which is what we need to survive. However, the reason why we have been lax in protecting her is because we have become disconnected from nature and have stopped thinking about where out air, food, water and medicine come from.

As mentioned above, we simply cannot do without the natural world. But beside that, the natural world gives us a sense of wonder and is filled with awe-inspiring natural beauty. Just imagine the world without amazing places like the Great Barrier Reef and Amazon Forests, or species like the polar bear or pangolin.

Conservation is about protecting and preserving the natural world. We do this not only because we need the natural world to survive, but also because the natural world is inherently beautiful and was around before we were / has it’s own right to exist. We preserve the natural world to ensure equitable access to critical natural resources, such as food, water, and air, for future generations.

Conservation also involves sustainable development and stabilising economies. We cannot dictate to others and we especially cannot tell poorer people how they should be living. To carry out conservation, people all around the world will need to work together and come up with innovative solutions that will benefit us all.

Embarking on a conservation journey

“What’s my life purpose?” This question has plagued me for the longest time. Like, really really plagued me…

I’ve read books, journaled for hours, done all sorts of personality tests, attended countless courses for different things and listened to numerous podcasts of different “experts” to try and answer that one question. And one morning this year, while I had some quiet time to think about a project I could work on that would bring my interests and skills together, the answer came to me. I want to save wildlife.

I want to say that this realisation was like the existential dark clouds of “I don’t know what to do with my life” parted and a massive golden ray of sunshine burst forth to illuminate my path forward, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was just a quiet, ‘something clicked’ kinda thing. Like I could suddenly line up the stories of my life.

Stuff like: I spent a lot of my time as a kid watching wildlife documentaries. I refused to eat sharks fin soup at family gatherings and weddings. I made my classmates throw their used paper into a cardboard box so I could bring it to the petrol station where the recycling bins were. I wanted to study zoology in uni (but didn’t because dad said I’d have no where else to work but the zoo). I chose teaching because I figured it wasn’t something that was very polluting.

So now I’m on my path to explore conservation. I’ve enrolled in a National Geographic course called “Introduction to Conservation” and will be blogging about my learning in the days to come, so do check back from time to time if you’d like to know what I’ve learnt.

24 Jan 2021 Garden Update

Kumquats

The first ladies’ finger didn’t grow so much this week, but the bud on the other plant bloomed and now there is a second ladies’ finger growing!

Ladies fingers plant 2

The second pot of ladies’ finger plants is also doing better now that the young plants are getting more sunlight. It’s interesting how a couple of the leaves are shaped so differently from the plants that are in the photos above.

I’m also pleased to say that the prayer plant is looking like it is happy. There are little shooty / rooty things growing out from the old leaf sheaths. I was a bit clumsy and broke the one in the photo right after I took it. Oops.

Spinach

The spinach leaves have gotten bigger now that the pot is on the ledge where it gets more sunlight. I should have enough leaves to add to a dish soon!

Kumquats

Here are the kumquats I managed to harvest from our bush. I also have two limes! I hope to cook this down into a kind of syrup that I can use to mix with soda water.

Fish tail plant

Sadly, the fish tail plant suffered a shock from being transplanted. It’s dropped all its leaves except for the one pictured. It looks like there’s a new leaf growing to the right of it though. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed.

And finally here are my rescue plants for this week, a mint and a basil. The mint currently has tiny tiny leaves and looks like it’ll be a goner in another couple of weeks. The “soil” that it came in from the nursery was a weird cork-like stuff. My father said it was coconut peat and probably didn’t have much nutrients in it. It was the same for the basil. Unfortunately for the basil, it was also neglected so the stems have already turned woody. They’ve both been repotted into bigger pots with proper soil that’s been mixed with worm castings. Let’s see whether these two survive in the upcoming weeks.

16 Jan 2021 Garden Update

Repotted plants on the table in the backyard

It turns out that the little “finger” was a flower bud! Sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo of it in full bloom, but it looks like the flower has a light yellow colour with dark brown spots.

The fruit itself grew amazingly quickly. The flower bloomed on the 12th (Tuesday) and by Saturday, the finger was already about 3 cm long! Wonder how big it’ll be next week…

Ladies finger plants

Here are the other ladies finger plants that I started from seed. The seedlings were placed on the floor and didn’t get as much sunlight as the ones above. You can see that they landed up being quite scrawny and scraggly. I’ve now moved them up to the table as well and hopefully they’ll do better.

Spinach plant

The spinach cuttings are also doing well. The leaves are starting to get bigger on some of the stems. A couple of the stems (not shown in photo) seem to have been gnawed on by some critter. I’ve also moved this pot up onto a ledge where it’ll get more sunlight.

Prayer plant

Here is a very sad looking prayer plant that I’m trying to rescue. My friend’s dogs had been chewing on the leaves and it’s taken a couple of tumbles. I’ve taken it out of it’s original pot and split the plant into two. I hope the transplant helps the plant to survive!

I found this very pretty little fishtail plant growing from a crack in the garden! I’ve also transplanted this and placed it in the backyard.

Repotted plants on the table in the backyard

This is what the backyard table looks like now with the new fishtail plant, repotted prayer plant and ladies finger cuttings. May the universe pour loving healing growing energy on these beauts!

9 Jan 2021 Garden Update

I learnt from the Singapore Vermicomposting Facebook group that a store in Serangoon North was selling boxes of worms for $10, so I visited the store on the 4th of Jan.

PetMart Pte Ltd – 151 Serangoon North Ave 2 #01-79 Singapore 550151

Above is the box the worms came in.

The comment in the Facebook group said there’d be about 20 to 30 worms in the box, so out of curiosity, I decided to count how many there were. Below is what they looked like after they were tipped out of the box.The Facebook group mentioned two types of worms, Malaysian Blue Worms and African Night Crawlers. I’m guessing what I purchased were the former because they had a really interesting shiny blue colour to them. The Facebook group mentioned two types of worms, Malaysian Blue Worms and African Night Crawlers. I’m guessing what I purchased were the former because they had a really interesting shiny blue colour to them.

Turns out there were about 85 worms!

They’ve been popped into the compost bin together with some wilted salad leaves and a banana peel.

The little “finger” is getting larger!

There are little leaves starting to grow on the stems.

2 Jan 2021 Garden Update

Spinach stems

I rooted a bunch of left over spinach stems by soaking them in a cup of water for about three days. There were plenty of roots so let’s see how these turn out.

I’m not sure what the little pointing thing at the top is but it sure looks like a little fruit! Can it be? The plant looks way too young to be able to fruit!

Our swanky “new” compost bin

That’s an old dragon urn we had lying around in the garden. My dad and I filled it with torn up cardboard, shredded banana leaves and soil. We don’t have a proper lid for it just yet so we’re using this plastic tub. Fits pretty good actually! Just gotta get some worms now…

That’s all for now!

Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Oats

I created this recipe for my father because he likes to eat chocolate chip cookies but has diabetes. I didn’t like the ingredient list of the ones he was buying from the store. If he’s going to eat cookies, he might as well eat ones that are slightly better for him, so my cookies have…

  1. At least 30% less sugar than the store bought ones
  2. Good quality bitter-sweet chocolate
  3. Oats – so there’s some soluble fibre
  4. Nuts – so there’s some insoluble fibre
  5. A touch of cinnamon, because it seems to help regulate blood glucose levels

I’ve emphasised to my dad that these aren’t healthy, just healthier, so he’ll still need to eat them in moderation. 3 cookies at max in a sitting!

Crispy chocolate chip cookies with oats

  • 90 g All purpose flour
  • 90 g Almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 3/8 tsp Salt
  • 110 g Unsalted butter (softened)
  • 120 g Caster sugar
  • 50 g Brown sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Rolled oats (coarsely ground)
  • 1/4 cup 70% chocolate (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Roasted nuts
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
  1. In a small bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together. Whisk in the salt. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both types of sugars until light and creamy, about 3 min.

  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low until evenly combined.

  4. Add the oats, chocolate chips and nuts and hand mix them into the batter until just combined.

  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  6. Line a baking tray and use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out portions of cookie dough. Round the dough as much as you can before placing them on the baking tray. Make sure they are well spaced so that the cookies can spread in the oven.

  7. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown.

  8. After removing the trays from the oven, wait a couple of minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They’d probably last up to 2 weeks in the container. If you’d like them to last even longer, store them in the fridge.

Too lazy to make these yourself? You can just order them from me below.

Baked Sole and Cauliflower

I was really please with this baked sole dinner because it was gluten free (two of my guests were gluten sensitive), really easy to prepare and cook (all the prep and cooking was done in about 1.5 hours) and super delicious. Below was my menu.

Appetiser – Nothing (I wanted my guests to have an appetite for the main course)

Main course – Baked sole fish served with cherry tomatoes, asparagus and beans. Roasted Cauliflower.

Dessert – Chocolate oblivion torte with raspberry coulis

Drinks – White wine, champagne and fizzed water.

The cake recipe can be found here, but the recipe for the main course is below.

Baked sole fish dinner
From left to right: Roasted cauliflower, baked sole and roasted asparagus. The sweet potato is missing from the photo.
Baked sole fish
Baked Sole

*Cough cough* Clearly I need to learn to take better photos of my food or learn to do some styling… Anyway, here is the recipe.

Baked Sole Fish with Cauliflower, Asparagus and Sweet Potato

  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 2 Sole fish (300 – 400 g each fish) (You can use any fish with white flesh)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 50 g Unsalted butter (If you use salted, just add slightly less salt when salting the fish)
  • 2 tsp Capers (Optional!)
  • 16 Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Parsley
  • 60 ml White wine
  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 1 bunch French beans
  • 5 small Sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Open your bottle of white wine and pour yourself a glass and take a few sips. Wash all the veggies.

  2. Cut any excess leaves off the cauliflower, then give the whole head a wash. Slice the cauliflower into 2 cm thick slices and lay them on a baking sheet. Try and make sure that the slices don't overlap each other so that they'll brown nicely in the oven.

  3. Generously drizzle olive oil over the cauliflower. If you're particular, use a brush to make sure the cauliflower is coated well with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and parmesan cheese.

  4. When the oven is at the correct temperature, put the cauliflower in. The cauliflower will take 30 mins to roast.

  5. Time to get the fish and all the other food ready. Work quickly because you want to get the sole into the oven in about 15 min time so that everything can cook simultaneously and come out at the oven together. First, slice your lemon into 5 mm slices and set it aside.

  6. Grab a handful of parsley and coarse chop it. Set this aside too.

  7. Rinse the capers in water, towel them dry, then mince them with a knife. Set aside.

  8. Wash the fish and pat it dry with kitchen towel. Rub salt and pepper on both sides and lay it on you cutting board or somewhere dry.

  9. Grease your baking dish with some butter. Cut the remaining butter into nice small cubes.

  10. Pop 3 slices of lemon onto the bottom of the dish. Place your fish on top of the lemon slices. Dot the top side of the fish with half of the remaining butter that you have cut into nice small cubes. Take a handful of parsley and half your minced capers and scatter them over the fish. Remember to do it with style! Now pour the 30 ml of wine over the fish.

  11. Wash the cherry tomatoes and place half of them around the fish.

  12. Prepare the second fish the exact same way as the first, but put it in a separate baking dish. You'll be cooking this after you've finished baking the first sole.

  13. Cut your sweet potato into 1 cm think rounds. Place them in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Hopefully at this point the cauliflower has already been cooking for about 15 mins because it'll be just the right time to put the fish and sweet potatoes in the oven. The fish and sweet potatoes will take about 15 mins to cook.

  14. Get the next two steps done in 5 mins. Prepare the asparagus by cutting the ends off and using a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off the bottom ¼ of the asparagus. Put it in another baking pan.

  15. Prepare the beans by cutting the hard ends off. Leave them whole and chuck them into the pan with the asparagus. Drizzle olive oil generously over the asparagus and beans, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you have other types of fresh herbs lying around, sprinkle them over the veges. Pop this tray of veg into the oven 10 minutes before the cauliflower is ready to come out.

  16. While everything is in the oven, go and set the table.

  17. When the cauliflower has been in the oven for 30 min, pull all the food out of the oven and set in on your table. Remember to throw some extra parsley onto the fish to make it PRETTY!

  18. Before you tuck in, stick the other fish into the oven and set a 15 minute timer. By the time your friends are finished with the first sole, the second one will be ready and you can all tuck into another delicious warm fish! Mmmm mmmm!

Just a little tip, get the fish monger to help you clean out the sole fish so you won’t have to do it. Before cooking, run your hands over the fish to make sure all the scales have been taken off. If you find any, just use a spoon to gently scrape them off.

If you cook this, please #auntytwo if you post pictures to instagram so I can see your results!

Mother Dough Bakery

Almond croissant cross section

Mother Dough Bakery is a sweet little bakery off North Bridge Road. They sell a variety of baked goods – bread, pastries, cakes etc. It’s owned by the head baker, Naadhira Ismail, who, according to the bakery’s about page, studied baking in New York. (By the way, she’s gorgeous! Just do a Google image search on her.)

The first thing I tried was the Almond Croissant ($5). Very flaky and buttery, as any croissant should be, but better than other ones because the filling (frangipane) wasn’t super sweet. YUM!

Lemon Cake

Next up was the Lemon Cake ($? – I forgot to take note). The lemon flavour was on point but this slice was just a tad too sweet for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Hazelnut brownie

I’ve never had a store bought brownie that was so generous with the nuts. This Hazelnut Brownie ($? – sorry) was LOADED with hazelnuts! It was all gooey, fudgey, chocolatey and nutty in the most wonderful ways. If you bring it home, make sure to warm it up slightly to get the maximum deliciousness out of this beauty.

Rating: 5 out of 5.