Welcome to Singapore. Leave your dirty habits at the door.

They don’t seem to mess around in Singapore.

I spent three very short days here and for all the rules and general over-the-top cleanliness (particularly for a city in Asia) I have to say, I kinda liked it.  A lot.

The food was everything I hoped it would be, which is saying a lot.  My first night I walked to a hawker center (like an outdoor food court) down the street from my hotel and tried popiah (my favorite of all the food I tried in Singapore), grilled swordfish, white carrot cake (not at all like what you are probably imaging… kind of like an omelet with some kind of mild radish), fresh coconut milk and fresh lime juice.  All of it was amazing.

Other food favorites included dinner at the hawker center in Little India, where I got to watch my naan being made, and all of the fresh, ready-to-eat fruit for sale all over the city.  See, I like fruit, love it even, when I don’t have to do anything to it.  No peeling.  No slicing.  No worrying about pits or seeds.  I buy it and I eat it.  I would be such a healthier person if I lived in southeast Asia.  Really, I would.

Saturday morning a friend and I did the 12 km loop through the nature reserve in the center of Singapore.  The whole hike was amazing, but honestly, the monkeys were probably the highlight, at least for me.

Don’t worry.  I was careful to keep my food tucked away in my backpack for the duration of our hike.

Honestly, though, and somewhat surprisingly, the architecture may have made the greatest impression on me.  I loved the look of the city, the towering skyscrapers, the funky modernism of some of the buildings, the sense of history imparted by the occasional relic from decades past.

That pretty much sums up my brief visit to Singapore.  Food, nature, architecture.  And one somewhat bittersweet phone call to my favorite place on earth, a little farm in Maidstone, Vermont where my four closest friends were celebrating the 15th anniversary of our friendship.

And I wasn’t there.  As wonderful as Singapore was, I would have much preferred to be in Vermont with my girls and their husbands and babies and corn and BBQing and hiking and cooking and laying about being lazy, and maybe kicking butt (or not, as is often the case) during a game or two of Settlers of Catan.

Every year Lyn invites us to the Farm in August for her annual Corn Roast.  Most years I make it.  Often she is kind enough to rearrange the schedule so that I can come (like last year… when she held it in September, long after the corn is no longer in season).  This year, well, it just wasn’t happening so in honor of the corn roast, I whipped up a batch of corn pancakes during one of my weekends in Okinawa.  Not as good as the real thing, but not a bad substitute given the circumstances.

For my girls… who knew 3 months in Maine would change each of our lives so much for the better.  I love you.

Sweet Corn Pancakes
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 tablespoons butter, plus additional for pan
3/4 cup corn (use fresh if you have it, but I used frozen sweet baby corn)
dash of salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup  cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to brown ever-so-slightly. Sprinkle with salt and set aside to cool. Wipe out skillet.

Lightly beat egg in the bottom of a large bowl, then whisk in buttermilk, corn, vanilla and sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing until just combined but still lumpy in appearance.

Reheat your skillet or saute pan to medium. Brush the pan with butter and ladle 1/4 cup batter at a time, 2 inches apart. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip them over and cook until golden brown underneath.

Adjust heat as needed if the pancakes are cooking too fast.  Repeat with remaining batter, and serve immediately with real maple syrup (very important if you are friends with any native Vermonters).

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