Saturday, 24 May 2014

Postcards from Singapore Central Fire Station

We respect firemen and female firefighters. The latter are a minority in the male and macho dominated profession. They risk their precious lives putting off fire and rescuing people.

To help my little man appreciates firefighters and their contributions to our society, I brought him to the open house of Central Fire Station Singapore (新加坡中央消防局).

While many pictorial children books still refer to a firefighter as a fireman, from here onward, let's greet them firefighters. Why?

Denise Christie, a British female firefighter since 1997, often challenges the use of the term "fireman". Why?

The “man” in the word “fireman” both consciously and subconsciously excludes girls and women from aspiring for a career (or I would rather say a vocation) as a firefighter.

Firefighter’s job is really one of the toughest, at the front-line of disasters and life-saving work.

In Singapore, firefighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services are provided by SCDF - that stands for Singapore Civil Defence Force (新加坡民防部队).

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ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station gate door

At Central Fire Station, baby Ren enjoyed appreciating many rescue vehicles, from ambulances to fire engines, including the huge Pump Ladder and Combined Platform Ladder.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station engines

He refers to any vehicle as tutu, perhaps from the sound that car horns or traditional trains make.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station Red Rhinos

Mama, look! Baby Ren was too amazed sitting inside the Red Rhino ~ a smaller and more compact version of the fire truck for better accessibility in tight and narrow spaces.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station

Your kids can squirt water like a real firefighter onto a ‘fire’ target. Have fun with the water gun!

The volunteer guide in uniform, an ‘Uncle’ in late 40s or early 50s, delivered useful knowledge related to emergency.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station

When someone has a heart attack (cardiac arrest), s/he has only 4 minutes to survive if no CPR is given. That’s why, everyone ideally learns and knows how to perform CPR. The skill can save our loved ones.

What is CPR?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

In brief, CPR = rescue breathing + chest compression 

When someone is unconscious, remember the DR ABC steps, which stands for Danger - Response - Airway - Breathing - Compression.

1. DANGER: check no further danger to the rescuer (yourself) and the casualty.

2. RESPONSE: can the casualty respond?
Unconsciousness may be due to airway obstruction / choking, apnea, cardiac arrest.

Try to wake the casualty.  

If no response, shout for help, ask someone to immediately call for an emergency ambulance (dial 995 in Singapore) and to get an AED (if available). .
If you are alone, use a speaker mode while calling, so your hands are free for the next step.

3. AIRWAY: open the casualty’s airway & check if airway is clear or blocked by a foreign object. Remember the head tilt chin lift method.

4. BREATHING: check by looking if the chest rises, listening & feeling for the air for up to 10 seconds.
If the casualty is breathing normally, place him in the recovery position and monitor his condition regularly until medical help arrives.

If the casualty does not breathe, immediately do CPR: a cycle of 30 compression followed by 2 rescue breath with the casualty’s nose being sealed.

The compression is delivered at the rate of 100 compressions / minute and to cause the chest to deepen by 1.5 to 2 inches (4 -5 cm).

Count loudly as you compress:
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 10 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 15 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 20 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 25 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 30

After 5 cycles of CPR, check for pulse and breathing.
If no breathing, repeat CPR until paramedics take over.

The air we breathe in contains 21% oxygen.
The air we breathe out contains 16-18% oxygen.
Therefore, rescue breathing still supplies the crucial oxygen to the casualty.

The steps described above are slightly different from those I learned during a Standard First Aid (SFA) course, before becoming a first aider with the Red Cross Youth NTU Chapter.

In my SFA course (more than a decade ago), after the BREATHING step, there is a CIRCULATION step, in which the rescuer checks for sign of blood flowing, particularly through carotid pulse. Since the pulse is difficult to determine, CPR is performed immediately if there is no breathing.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station NTU Red Cross Orchard

A memory of my fellow first aiders who served during a Christmas in Orchard, Singapore. Dad made a surprising night-visit that time, thanks to his Malaysian friend who drove to Singapore. Rarely seeing Dad, I wanted to accompany him strolling Orchard, but Dad insisted that I fulfill my duty. That night, I only served a casualty, who suffered from a minor bruise. Unlike other services or businesses, first aiders hope for less or no ‘customers’, i.e. everyone is okay.

Tips: You may want to keep a free Heart4Life app in your mobile phone.

I like the “CPR mode” because it is very easy to follow, especially when we are highly tense tending to the casualty, who can be our loved one.

The app also includes a 2.5-minute CPR video by Singapore Heart Foundation, which is also available in Youtube.

Important: This brief note here is not a substitute for live training, please kindly go for a CPR training by the professionals at your area, if you are interested to learn about CPR.

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AEDs also remind me on Monaco, where I saw many AEDs and yachts in a single day!

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station Monaco

Yes, both are ubiquitous there. 

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Sorry, I digress.

Back to the Central Fire Station … 

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station ambulance

Your children and you can get inside an ambulance. This way, your first encounter with the inner side of the ambulance was a happy experience. 

Baby Ren and I were standing very close to an ambulance when an older adventurous boy intentionally or unintentionally pressed the siren button. 


Very loud! Baby Ren immediately hug me tightly. It’s okay, honey! 

The guide mentioned that a family member or friend of the casualty is usually asked to go with the ambulance. It’s definitely one of the most stressful rides for the person, always asking is his or her loved one is okay. 

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When my mother was in her teen, a colossal fire engulfed and destroyed her home and community in Sukaramai. She lost everything except her life and few clothings that she managed to rescue using a bed sheet with its 4 corners tied together as a big carrier.

Many decades down the road, thanks to a kind distant relative, my mother managed to retrieve a family photograph (taken while she was in early primary school). People in the black-and-white photograph includes my tanned grandfather, my beautiful grandmother, my mother, her two brothers and a sister. She cherished the photograph so much! It is the only copy of family photograph that survived. 

A photograph can be an evidence that someone had ever lived, especially for people who have never experienced digital world.  


My maternal grandfather passed away when I was a toddler. I did not remember him much, but I cherish so much the photograph of the toddler-me hugging or clasping his leg in Brastagi (Berastagi). 

The snap of memory that tells how much he has loved me, his first grandchild. 

Waigong died of heart attack, and nobody (including himself) knew that he had a heart problem. Dajiu ( my first uncle), found him too late to save his life. 

Pearls of tear drops flow on my cheek now. I wish I could knew more about you in person, Grandpa! 

Nowadays, I helped Mom backing-up precious family photographs and videos. Never let fire (or any other disaster) steals your memory! 

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ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station reflection photography memory

During my childhood in Jakarta, Dad and Mom had to work until very late at nights. Home alone, with my younger sister and brother, I was always alert hearing the siren of fire engine. 

At that time, I did not know if it is either my adrenaline or cortisol that immediately spiked up.

I prayed that the volume of the siren to lower as the clock ticks in seconds - that’s mean the fire happened far from our dwelling. 

We lived in the second floor, which was a blessing because Jakarta has suffered from floods at least annually. Relatively safe from the excessive water hazard, this possesses a challenge for fire and earthquake hazard. 

Dad, not being paranoid but careful, made an emergency ladder of ropes and small wooden planks for us. The ladder was always placed beneath the window.  

Dad instructed us to go down using the ladder in the event of fire and our parents were away working.

Thank you Papa for loving and caring us, for teaching us survival skills! 

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FIRE SAFETY (main points are from a postcard of Civil Defense Heritage Gallery)
What to do … when you are trapped? 
1. Stay calm
2. Enter a safe room, preferably one that overlooks a road.
3. Shut the door behind you. Cover the bottom gap of the door using wet clothes to prevent smoke from seeping through.
4. Call 995 and shout for help from the windows or other openings. Wait for rescue to arrive. 
5. Cover your mouth and nose with wet clothes. 
6. If you are on high floors, do not attempt to jump out of building. Help will be on the way very soon. Pray!

Tips: If you have locked window grills, keep the key at the accessible site in the same room.

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We were very happy with the educational and entertaining visit to the Central Fire Station. Baby Ren even dreamed of tutu in his afternoon nap.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station Red Rhinos

If you have a free Saturday morning in Singapore, I’d recommend visiting the Central Fire Station open house (9am-11am), followed by a visit to Civil Defence Heritage Gallery. Both are free of charge. 

At historical level 1, we learned more about the Bukit Ho Swee Fire (河水山大火) on May 25, 1961 at 3.20 p.m. The devastating fire led to the HDB public housing scheme. As of 2014, 82% of Singaporeans (including baby Ren and his family) live in HDB flats.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station antique old fire engines

Antique fire engines are on display. They played roles in keeping people safe, and now retired they served as educational huge toys for children and grown-ups. 

At modern level 2, your little ones can don on SCDF firefighter uniform and hat, or put off ‘fire’ thorugh a virtual fire window.  

I appreciate many interactive stations that help children to learn about firefighting and rescue technology. 

Baby Ren in a firefighter uniform reminds me on Paddington Bear who was discovered in Paddington Station, London.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station firefighters

Baby Ren looks like a trophy won by the fearless firefighters. Cheers to the handsome brothers and abang! 
"Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, & how to be free from it, that's the point. Necessity of action takes away the fear of the act, and makes bold resolution the favorite of fortune." ~ Francis Quarles

You may also want to do a virtual tour of the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery. 

Outside the gallery is a souvenir shop with many toys of fire engines being displayed. These really make little boys like baby Ren very excited and happy! 

Address: 62 Hill Street 638482 ; nearby MRT stations City Hall or Clarke Quay

Fee: free

What’s next?
♥ Fancy a bird’s eye view? a future night Tower Tour when baby Ren can climb steadily on his own.
♥ See also our other #travelxp & #ministory posts

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station tower spiral staircase

Final words … Thank you very much firefighters! You are our heroes and heroines.

With love,

Monday, 19 May 2014

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits

In 2011, an entrepreneurial and creative girlfriend who grew up in Shenzhen, China and did her graduate study in Cambridge, England came to live in Singapore for half a year. Having neither seen nor tasted dragon fruits before, she was fascinated by and loved eating them very much.

You tend to grow loving things and people whom your inspiring friends - your influencers - also love.

Since then, I have developed an appreciation for dragon fruits, also known as pitaya / pitahaya / 龙珠果, which are often served cut in lunch or dinner buffets in Singapore.

You will hardly miss dragon fruits sold in tropical markets or supermarkets, thanks to their beautiful vibrant magenta skin.

In contrast to its eye-catching outer appearance, the mildly sweet flesh of dragon fruits offers delicate aroma. The sweetness reminds me on melon, honeydew and pear, but dragon fruits are softer in texture than them.

Widely grown in the tropics, dragon fruit has been reported as potential anti-cancer (PMID 21535651), thanks to its anti-oxidant phenolic content in both skin / peel (more!) and flesh.

Blending pitaya hopefully helps to break its black and crunchy seeds, which are indigestible unless chewed. Please do not forget to treat your olfactory senses to the subtle fragrance of pitaya, before gulping them down to quench your thirst.

In this post, I lovingly share two drink recipes of dragon fruits. Enjoy!

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits by ServicefromHeart

Dragonfruit detox juice (火龙果排毒果汁)
♥ 1 ripe dragonfruit (火龙果)
♥ 1 stalk organic celery (有机芹菜)
♥ 1 tsp honey (蜜糖)
♥ 150 ml water (过滤水)


Dragonfruit banana smoothie (龙珠果香蕉冰沙)
♥ 1 ripe dragonfruit (龙珠果)
♥ 1 ripe banana (香蕉)
♥ 100 ml fresh milk (鲜奶)

1. Wash dragofruit, cut into halves. Use a large spoon to scoop out its flesh. Trim away any extra inedible skin. Cut into chunks.
2. Peel & chunk banana.
3. Blend dragonfruit, banana, milk together.

Tips: Since the skin has higher anti-oxidant content, consider using its flesh-facing side as a mask before throwing away.

由于火龙果皮肤具有更高的抗氧化剂含量, 扔掉之前, 请考虑使用它的肉面对侧作为面膜

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits by ServicefromHeart

Other recipes that I love:
Dragonfruit and black sesame mochi ice cream by Maya, a scientist by training @ Foodiva's Kitchen, Brunei Darussalam, Borneo
♥ Dragon fruit mock mojito by Elizabeth @ Frugal Mom Eh! Canada
♥ Pitaya sorbet by Yolanda Bertaud @ Byzantine Flowers

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
Spring 2014

Friday, 16 May 2014

Postcards from Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Thanks to MRT Downtown Line (coded in blue), the first visit of baby Ren to Marina Bay Sands (MBS / 滨海湾金沙) was a realization. Except for the transport fare, the visit to The Shoppes (shopping mall) in MBS - the world's most expensive building at US$ 5.5 - 5.7 billion (as of 2010) - is free.

“Everyday is a journey in our lives, and an MRT ride can be an interesting journey.”


Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

Spacious seats of MRT serving Downtown Line make us happy! Thank you MRT.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart 

We took the MRT Downtown Line from Bugis via Promenade to Bayfront station.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

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Designed by Moshe Safdie (an Israeli/Canadian architect) with an inspiration from card decks, MBS is a unique icon of Singapore. "Does it look like ancestral tablets (tombstones)?" a taxi driver once asked me. To me, it looks like an ancient Chinese scholar's hat (古老的中国学者的帽子).

A canal inside the Marina Bay Sands reminds us on the Venice (Italy) and River Cambridge (England).

 Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

A tea break by the water side beneath the Rain Oculus created by Ned Kahn - famous for transforming an invisible aspect of nature into visible, is pleasing and relaxing. That day, I had a snack leftover that I bought from near Lavender MRT station whereas baby Ren had grape cuts and a bottle of breast milk.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

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Luxurious brands ... offer a pleasant opportunity for window shopping! They are sources of inspirations: the creative designs (创意设计), the careful attention to details (精心细节) and exquisite craftsmanship (精湛的工艺).


Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

A different kind of worlds ... 

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

Are you interested to hire baby Ren as your little model?

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

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I remember ...

When baby Ren was in my belly, my maternal grandmother, Dad, Mom and I had a memorable early dinner at Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), Marina Bay Sands. It was a good decision so that we did not have to queue for a table. I did not feel significantly inflated prices as compared to other outlets of Ding Tai Fung, given the posh location.

My family encouraged me to eat more xiaolongbao (小笼包) - my favorite dish. I also like the chilli oil dumplings.

Xiaolongbao was originally from Shanghai and Wuxi, China. Their mini sizes made them so delicate and cherishable to savor.

It is not only about the food, but also the people whom you dine with and the people who transform our food into food art.

“I choose to collect memories instead of things.” ~ Elena Levon


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What's next?
1. visit Sands SkyPark that connects the 2 hotel towers and is large enough (1.2 hectare) to park four-and-a-half Airbus A380 jumbo jets. Plan your visit at the end of the afternoon before dusk to enjoy the view during daytime and at night. It costs a visitor SG$23 to get to the Skypark by high speed elevator of the middle tower. The ticketing office is not accessible by lift, and a friendly staff kindly offered to carry my pram / stroller, but in the end I decided to visit Sands SkyPark next time.
2. Alternatively, you can take the free elevator (Tower 3) to Ku DÉ Ta Lounge to enjoy some drinks and scenery of Singapore's cityscape and skyline. PS: casual dress is not allowed, no shorts, slippers, singlets and tank tops plese.
3. swim @ The Infinite Pool on the 57th floor - the largest elevated pool in the world, which is only accessible to the hotel guests.
4. watch Wonder Full: Light Show and Water Show. Each show starts daily at 8pm and 9.30pm. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is another show at 11pm.
To watch the Water Show, be at the Marina Bay Sands side.
To watch the Light Show, cross the Bay.
Please remember to bring your tripod for taking blur-free photography / video.

Address: 10 Bayfront Ave Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956

View Larger Map

Other travel posts that I love:
♥ Ku De Ta by Journeys of the Fabulist
♥ SkyPark Infinity Pool by Escape with Style
♥ Light and Water Show by Rosie and Edmund Tay
♥ our #travelxp posts

With love,

Sunday, 11 May 2014

very easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian)

This soup has been inspired from the apple beetroot carrot juice which has been promoted in relation to the "treatment of lung cancer and several other diseases."

easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart

While it is best to consult experts (e.g. medical practitioners, doctors, specialists), we can also do our parts by improving our diets to stay healthy and get better in our health.

Since I am going to serve the delicious apple, beetroot and carrot to baby Ren, I prefer to cook them so that the water content inside these inexpensive vegetables and fruit is boiled (to kill any germ).

For Dear and myself, I alternate between raw juices and soups.

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Serving an apple a day to the apple of our eyes - our little one(s) is as magical as the classic story of Snow White and a ministory about it.

easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart

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Beetroot is known to help in the treatment of anemia. I love th imagine how our mother nature endows us with beetroot that 'bleeds' its natural bloody red liquid when we peel and cut it.

Please do not worry if you have a slight pinkish urine after consuming beetroot.

Beetroot can reduce blood pressure (PMID: 23596162), so it is good for people with high blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure like me, please consume beetroot moderately. I try not to eat more than one beetroot weekly. There are so many other delicious vegetables to savor, thankfully!

Since beetroot releases slight salty taste, I do not add any salt to the soup.

easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart

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The soup tastes mildly sour with slight sweetness, and it goes well for baby Ren who loves sweet sour fruits!

Upon drinking the soup, baby Ren's lips turn pinkish - like lipstick-adorned ones. He playfully laughs and sticks his tiny tongue out to slurp joyfully. Your heart surely melts when your little ones do so.

easy clear apple beetroot carrot (ABC) soup (vegetarian) by ServicefromHeart : food tester baby Ren

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Servings: 2
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes

♥ 1 green apple (苹果)
♥ 1 beetroot (甜菜根)
♥ 1 carrot (红萝卜)
♥ 6 red dates (红枣), pitted
♥ 1 honey date ()
♥ 800 ml - 1 liter water

1. Wash the produce thoroughly. I wash both organic and non-organic products, and wash more carefully for non-organic ones.
2. Peel carrot, beetroot, apple. Remove the core and seeds of the apple.
3. Add all ingredients to boiled water. Simmer over low heat for 60 minutes.

♥ To make the soup more flavorful, use soup stock (e.g. gratitude soup stock, which is non-vegetarian). Next time, I will share vegetarian soup stock recipe.
♥ Beetroot stains. Please be careful especially if you are wearing light color clothes or preparing beetroot in the morning in your professional attire. I normally prepare and consume beetroot first before getting changed.

Other recipes that I love:
apple beetroot carrot juice by Blessed Homemaker @ Singapore
cucumber, celery, pear and lemon juice by Swathi (Ambujom Saraswathy) @ Zesty South Indian Kitchen
celery pear kale juice by Whitney Bond @ Little Leopard Book

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.
With love,

Thursday, 1 May 2014

comforting rice porridge (spring 2014)

Porridge, also known as congee / Okayu お粥 / bubur, is comforting food for breakfast, lunch, or supper. It is easy to prepare yet generously fueling our days with energy and nutrients.

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

Baby Ren loves thick but not thin porridge, so I use a ratio of 1:5 or 1:6 of rice grain:water.

Hot, nutritious and comforting porridge is a happy choice of our breakfast this spring. Sometimes, I use slow cooker to cook porridge overnight so it will be ready in the morning.

Fish porridge
♥ 150g Haruan fish
♥ 1 tsp anchovies
♥ 3/4 rice cooker cup rice grain
♥ 1/4 rice cooker cup barley

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

Seafood porridge
♥ 150g Haruan fish
♥ 1 tsp anchovies
♥ 4 scallops
♥ 1 tbsp dried scallops
♥ crabmeat, to taste (optional)
♥ 3/4 rice cooker cup rice grain
♥ 1/4 rice cooker cup barley

Meat porridge
♥ 200g pork ribs
♥ 1 carrot
♥ 1 tbsp dried scallops
♥ 8 red dates, pitted
♥ 1 tbsp wolfberries
♥ 3/4 rice cooker cup rice grain
♥ 1/4 rice cooker cup barley

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

To enhance the flavor of porridge, consider adding the followings:
♥ white pepper
♥ sesame oil
♥ sesame seeds (white / black)
♥ fried red onion
♥ cilantro / coriander, finely chopped
♥ parsley, finely chopped
♥ nuts e.g. peanuts, pistachio, almond
♥ balsamic vinegar / wine vinegar

Sometimes I add any / some of these ingredients:
♥ millet: pearl millet, finger millet
♥ quinoa
♥ barley
♥ couscous
♥ oat
♥ lotus root powder / lotus root
♥ wild yam / 淮山 / Huaishan / Dioscorea opposita. I bought the powder form so it will dissolve faster while cooking.
♥ mushroom e.g. shitake
♥ sweet potato
♥ potato
♥ carrot
♥ celery
♥ onion
♥ peas
Do you have more suggestions? I would love to hear from you ♥

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart

♥ Once cooked, do not stir the entire pot of porridge to prevent them from turning thin / watery. If you want to add no-cook ingredients (e.g. sesame oil, pepper, chopped scallion), take a large scoop of porridge into a serving bowl. Then, add the desirable ingredients and stir.
♥ If possible, use freshly harvested rice grain, especially for babies.

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart


Porridge cooked with rice cooker:

porridge recipe / resep bubur / Okayu / congee by ServicefromHeart


Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,