I don’t cook. Never did, though I know how to boil water and burn a toast. That about sums up my culinary skills.

Until recently.

The backstory: I’m helping my daughter and son-in-law (both holding down full-time jobs) with their housekeeping and first child, especially since they are expecting their second child. When their neighbor, who cooked for them, relocated to another country, I found myself having to handle the meals. I freaked out. ROTFL! That was Lisa rolling on the floor laughing. Upon recovering, she proceeded to teach me the basics of Chinese and Indian style spices and cooking. All within two days before she departed for home in Singapore. Yes, we were taking turns.

The good news, my daughter and son-in-law love Chinese/Indian food. The bad news, they also love Italian!

On the first Monday, I managed to stuff up the pasta. Literally. The pasta stuck to the pot and ended up as one solid lump that required a hammer and chisel. Bought a new set of hammer and chisel. Okay, I exaggerate. It only required a steak knife and fork. My family did not complain. Actually they were quite polite but I did all the whingeing on their behalf. Most of the ‘expert advice’ on pasta found on YouTube was wrong. I found a UK culinary school which taught me the secret and my pasta does not stick anymore.

The next day, Tuesday, my daughter quietly handled the cooking before she rushed off to work. That was no good. I had to step up! Do better! Get into it! Mesh the gears and hit the gas! Crack the whip and squeak the wheels! Get on with the slicing and dicing! Okay, you get what I mean.

So, on Wednesday, I did better with the Asian meals. My family actually loved it – from the very first meal which I cooked. No exaggeration here.

And as they say in the trade – yeah, I’ve been round the block already, a very small block – I never looked back. Chicken, beef, pork and fish – curried, stir-fried and stewed. Noodles – fried, dry and soups. Rice – regular steamed, cooked with raisins, chicken stock and coconut milk. And a range of pastas. And bread – my son-in-law claims I make French toast like no other. No, he was not sucking up – I’d already agreed 3 years ago, when he asked for my daughter’s hand in marriage. And neither was he been sarcastic – he knows I’ll murder him dead! He finished all the French toast and I’d to make a second batch. By the way, why do they call it ‘French’ toast? It’s a dish common to Asia, Africa, America, Australia and yes, even to Europe.

And with every passing day, I developed my own recipes – in truth, some of them were mistakes but turned out quite well. I have about two dozen recipes and adding to the list by the day. The family loves all my dishes. All the dishes! And they were not been merely polite. I too enjoy my cooking.

My son-in-law usually went for second helpings and even packs leftovers for the following day’s lunch. This is telling, because even when the neighbor cooked, he usually ate out for lunch.

Lisa had always said she enjoys cooking and watching us eat. I know how true that is. It’s a joy to watch the family relish my cooking. Lisa also taught me her secret recipe – cook with love, she said, and the children will sense it with every bite. How true that is. I’m sure many of you already know this secret too.

Now, cooking is old hat to most but considering my starting point and at age 62, I’ve come a long way this past one month and am well pleased. Another new skill set added to Jack’s repertoire.

Anyone interested in buying a slightly used and abused hammer and chisel set?

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

*** Increase F&B Sales is not about recipes. It is all about increasing profits in your F&B business without having to raise prices or cut back on quality and quantity. Click on the image below. I may not know much about cooking but when it comes to building profitable businesses, I can hold my own. ***



    1. Very true, Indira

      But now that I’m back in Singapore – the women don’t allow me to cook. It’s okay, when our housemaid goes on her vacation – I’ll sneak into the kitchen and surprise Lisa 🙂


      1. At least you try. My husband is ready to do everything except cooking. So I have no choice.
        As I said start loving…Cheers.

  1. By the way, why do they call it ‘French’ toast?
    Because white people appropriate the cool of ‘other culture’ to enable prosperity for all.

    1. Thank you, Ina – and good to have you on board.
      Culinary miracles, you say. Astonishing that I’ve not burnt down the house – though, I did trigger the smoke detector once.
      All good wishes for the weekend ahead,

  2. Fortunately you did not tear the kitchen apart with the hammer and chisel, lol. Did you add “grouch” to the first day of cooking, so the pasta frowned until they stuck together, lol.

    More than a dozen recipes, I applaud your patience and skill. So, who says we can’t teach old dogs new tricks and aging generation is a burden, they have to re-examine this.

    But I think, like Lisa, you are happiest when everyone ask for more of your food.

    1. Old dogs and new tricks… Hmmm, I’ll woof-woof to that 🙂

      Actually, on the first day, I was very patient with myself but also a little flustered. I took about 3 hours to cook a dish which ought to have taken 45 minutes. Did not plan well. Now, I can do that same dish in one hour without getting flustered. In case you are wondering, in business I always say a sale on credit is incomplete until the payment is received. With cooking, the job is not done until all the washing, drying and storing is complete. Yes, one’s old skills are never wasted 🙂

      Have a great week ahead, Windy!

    1. Since the 1980s most middle-class and especially dual-income families in Singapore have had live-in maids. An entire generation of men and women had grown up without having to learn to cook and even do household chores. But surprisingly, many have since learned to cook. Both my older daughter and son learned cooking when they were studying and working overseas. My younger girl’s husband is a hobby cook and she had picked up the hobby too.

      But it was quite different with my generation. Sons were mostly discouraged from entering the kitchen and mothers handled all the meals. Lisa learned to cook after we married – quite hilarious really, that episode – perhaps I’ll write a post one day.


    1. Hello Shalilah,
      Thank you for the kind words. Back home in Singapore, we have a live-in help (we’ve had live-in maids since 1992) and she spoils us.
      When I return home, I’m going to give her a heart attack!

  3. This one rings a bell. When my Mom died my Dad could only make toast. Two wives and numerous live-in house keepers later, he was no better. Then he retired and, like you, looked after a young child; in his case, his young son by the last wife. He had to prepare meals. He took a course “Man in the Kitchen’ and was soon putting on gourmet spreads. You guys are amazing!

    1. Hello Jane,
      Thank you for sharing and also the kind words. I’m on a roll now and simply enjoy the thrill of cooking. Let’s hope the enthusiasm does not wear thin.

    1. That’s right – one is never too old to learn new tricks.

      Over the last 8 years I’ve self-taught myself to write (novels, non-fiction); write and critique screenplays; produce and edit films and now, cook. At this age, I still do not know what I want to do/become 🙂


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