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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
KONG HEE FATT CHOY! Good Luck, Good Health and Prosperity for the Year of the Tiger!

By a happy coincidence, the new Chinese Year of the Tiger falls on St. Valentine’s Day. I have just the perfect cookie to mark this occasion: Love Letters!

Click here for a short history of Valentine’s Day and the recipe for Love Letters.

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CHAOS AT LUBOK BELAGA describes an episode in the life of my father, Michael Lim Beng Huat (1922 – 1985). The book was published in 1977 by the then existing Borneo Literature Bureau which strove to encourage Sarawak and Sabah’s literary talents and preserve the two Bornean States’ unique literary heritage.

Click here to read Lim Beng Huat’s compassionate autobiographical and historical account of the last years of the Japanese Occupation, deep in the heart of Sarawak’s rain forest, among the people he loved best.

Boxing Day

As a child and long afterwards into adulthood, I was under the impression that this day was set aside to honour pugilists like Jack Dempsey or rule-makers like the Marquess of Queensberry. Not so, I found out as I surfed the ‘net. By the way, how did anyone ever manage to gather information this fast before the ‘net and world wide web? Thank you Google, Wikipedia and all of you in Cyberspace with your blogs and websites.

I am sharing a “family secret” that I have named in the king’s honour –  my own version of the Classic Fruit Cake, a “drunken” Fruit Cake not only for the Holiday Season, but for all seasons and occasions.

Click here to read more and the recipe

The Christmas Tree

I got up early to de-bone the Barbary duck that I always serve stuffed with dried fruits for Christmas dinner. I don’t like turkey because the meat, except for the legs, is too dry. I have given up goose because it’s too big, even after it has been de-boned, to fit into my oven. Its size is truly misleading as it is mostly skin and bones…

…Sitting amid the ruins of the feast, I got down to thinking about what we have always taken for granted – the Christmas Tree, specifically grown for this season, cut down and set up as a centre piece, ornately decorated, to be thrown away twelve days after the Nativity.

Click here to read more

Santa Claus

You’d better watch out! You’d better not cry, and I’ll tell you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town!

He comes from the North Pole, on the 25th of December, in a sleigh drawn by reindeer. And while you’re sleeping, he’ll come down the chimney with the presents you have requested for. He is jolly, rotund, red-faced, with a merry twinkle in his eyes, and a deep belly laugh – Ho, Ho, Ho.

Wait a minute, wasn’t he here already in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Poland on 5th December – this fellow with the long white beard and the long red robe, bringing goodies for children who have been good. He came on a horse, in a sleigh, went from door to door or down chimneys. The Italians call him San Nicola, the Poles, Swiety Mikolaj.  He is known as Sankt Nikolaus in Germany, and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. (See Christmas Part 8 )

So who is this Santa Claus, or Father Christmas as children in the British Commonwealth countries call him, who comes on Christmas Day? Click here to find out…

On the 13th of December, the Scandinavians observe the Feast Day of St. Lucy or Santa Lucia with a light procession simply called Lucia. On this evening, young maidens dressed in white with a red sash, each carrying a candle, are led by a girl with a crown of lighted candles on her head. They distribute gifts of food and drink.

To celebrate Lucia, I made Plum Pockets, a traditional Finnish pastry filled with spiced plum sauce, served during Christmas. Marikka, a Finnish friend introduced me to this mouth-watering specialty. After you have tasted one, you ask for more. And more.

Click here to read more

Why do children in Europe, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands, have it better than most other children in the world during the Holiday Season?
Answer: During the month of December, they get presents twice!

Not only do they get presents at Christmas (from the Christ Child, not from Santa – more about this later) they also get presents  before Christmas – on the 5th of December, the Eve of the Feast Day of St. Nicholas.

Click here to read more about St. Nicholas Day