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December 27, 2013 |

Archive for » December 27th, 2013«

Food Fridays: ‘Ramen Burgers’ Roll Out in Singapore

The Travelling C.O.W.
Travelling C.O.W. claims to be the first food truck in Singapore.

SINGAPORE — Ramen burgers — with cooked noodles playing the traditional role of the bun — are a craze in the U.S. But the burger twist is surprisingly new to Singapore, the heart of the noodle-eating universe.

The Travelling C.O.W.
C.O.W.’s Ramen Burgers.

Burgers in most of Asia follow the old school notion of a burger — meat patties, usually beef, served inside a bun. That’s been true as well in Singapore.

Enter the “Travelling C.O.W.,” which stands for “Chef on Wheels” because the ramen burgers are sold from a food truck.

Founder-owner Karen Cheng believes the Travelling C.O.W. may be the first place to sell ramen burgers in Singapore. The idea of a restaurant on wheels is also unusual here.

The burgers first.

They are perfect for the people who love their burgers only if they promise to be shirt spoilers. Juices start oozing and dripping right at the first bite. Halfway through my bulgogi –a Korean dish of grilled, marinated beef – burger, I had a puddle of liquid in the wrapping paper. I ate the last morsels with soup spoons and chopsticks.

The filling options in the ramen burgers include other Asian flavors, such as teriyaki chicken and crab salad. The ramen noodles are boiled, shaped into buns and frozen before being fried so they have a nice and crispy texture.

The Travelling C.O.W.
C.O.W.’s Corn Crab Chowder Soup.

The Travelling C.O.W. came into being as a fusion experiment in food. Ms. Cheng says she was bored marketing clothes, accessories and perfumes at a French luxury firm. She decided to put her self-described ability to be a discerning foodie to test with her own venture.

“I can make out ingredients quite well, and I can tell what’s missing in a dish. But I’m not great at cooking myself,” says Ms. Cheng. She got help from chef Low Yuin Ling, tapping the chef’s knowledge of local flavors to put the Travelling C.O.W. together.

Ms. Cheng says her food is prepared in a central kitchen and then put together on the truck.

Ms. Cheng owns one truck, but plans to get more. The truck travels to locations across Singapore, and customers can follow it on a weekly schedule on its Facebook page. Last week, the truck was at a service center for a day, and no, it was not serving folks at the auto garage.

Through January, Ms. Cheng’s ramen burgers are among culinary showcases featured by the U Factory, a contemporary art experiments forum at the Gillman Barracks in southern Singapore.

The Travelling C.O.W. food truck also has other offerings, such as bolognese pasta and aglio olio on its menu. The menu changes every week and is announced through the Facebook page, as is the location of the Travelling C.O.W.

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Families shelter in local hotels as homeless problem persists

By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer

Part 2 of a two-part feature- part 1 was in the Dec. 20 issue of the Community Advocate and can be found here.

Region – The causes of homelessness in Massachusetts are myriad, according to Julie Stanwood, director of Friends of Families in Transition, a nonprofit, volunteer organization that provides services to those living in local hotels. These may include lack of education, loss of employment, or a sudden illness that creates a loss of income. Sometimes it’s poor choices or an addiction.

“A lot of these people are working,” Stanwood said, but many of them are being paid minimum wage, which is insufficient to live on. “If you’re lacking education or specific skills, you can’t support your family. Even Massachusetts affordable housing is not truly affordable.”

An unexpected family illness can quickly lead to missed work and lost wages. Money that would usually go to pay for heat or electricity may wind up going to pay for medical bills.

Families may often wait for months just to hear from caseworkers that Stanwood described as “totally overloaded.”

“There’s a family in Westborough who moved in August and haven’t seen any caseworkers,” Stanwood said.

Until then, families are often left to figure out how to live in the area by themselves. “They don’t know the area. No one tells them how to get their kids into the schools.”

Where food comes from depends on what services are available in any community. For example, in Northborough, the food pantry will deliver food to families. Friends of Families in Transition will also drive families in Northborough and Westborough to Wal-Mart to buy groceries.

Life in a motel

In addition to the bigger issues of relocating, finding work, and enrolling children in new schools, families like that of Pearl Dionysopoulos need to cope with the day to day living out of a one-room hotel. The last of Dionysopoulos’ five children leaves for school by 8:30 a.m. Depending on the day, Dionysopoulos will either clean the rooms or do laundry. She may visit family in Medford, where she may cook some meals to bring back to the hotel. To kill time, she’ll have coffee with the hotel’s front desk manager.

“I can’t stay in the room all day. I can’t just sit and watch TV,” Dionysopoulos said.

When the kids are out of school, they watch TV, do homework, or go to the YMCA, thanks to a pass given to the family by a Northborough police officer. Weekends are spent at friends’ houses, but Dionysopoulos family is not allowed visitors at the Econolodge.

“They don’t have a social life no more,” Dionysopoulos said. “We try to go swimming whenever we can. We do Wal-Mart runs, Christmas Tree Shops runs. Other than that, it’s quiet time in the two rooms.”

Most of the children have adjusted to life in a hotel, but Dionysopoulos said her eldest daughter is still having a hard time with it. To make things a bit homier, Dionysopoulos said she just bought a small, plastic tree to help get the family in the holiday spirit.

“There’s nothing luxurious about living in a hotel,” said Stanwood. “You’re changing diapers, washing, all in that room. You’re trying to cook in a microwave.”

For Dionysopoulos, who loves to cook, not having her own kitchen, pots, pans, and utensils, is difficult.

“It is what it is,” Dionysopoulos said. “It is a roof over our head. There’s no space, no kitchen.”

That lifestyle can lead to depression in many families. They also live with the uncertainty that any day the state could uproot them again and place them in affordable housing in yet another community.

Getting a family into a hotel may take less than a day, getting them out often takes months. “There’s no plan set up to get these people out of the hotels,” Stanwood said.

While the state may eventually provide a family with funds for a security deposit and first and last months’ rent to get them started, there is little other support, including life skills education that could prevent the families from becoming homeless all over again.

Families are not allowed in each other’s rooms, and those under 18 are not allowed outside their rooms without parental supervision. Three violations can get a family kicked out of their hotel. Such restrictions can make it difficult to find a job.

“I’m trying to find work here, but my kids can’t be out of the room unsupervised at all,” Dionysopoulos said, speaking in the hotel’s second floor lounge, a small room with cinderblock walls adjacent to the laundry room. “They can’t come up here and go to the ice machine. It makes it hard, because I want to find a job.”

While vouchers are available for daycare, they are difficult to get, Stanwood said, and they are not accepted by all daycare centers.

“We’re not doing anything to guide them into a better situation,” Stanwood said.

Municipalities need to have compassion, said Stanwood, acknowledging the strain the sudden influx of homeless families has on the schools, notably transportation for the children who have been placed in communities too far from their schools.

“Shrewsbury schools are already at capacity,” Stanwood said. “I don’t know what the state expects of them.”

Ultimately, Dionysopoulos said her goal is to find a more permanent home. The woman who once balked at the idea of relocating to Northborough said she wants to stay in the community.

“Boston is Boston, but now I’m here. I think this is a better area for them,” Dionysopoulos said. “I’m on an emergency list and they could call me any day and send me back to Boston. You’ll have to restrain me. I don’t want to go back to Boston. It’s not good for my kids.”

“It’s easy to say that it’s not a great scenario,” said State Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury). “It’s easy to say we don’t like this situation, but where do you want them to live, and at what cost?”

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Barneys New York Exclusive Hand-Cast Porcelain and Gold Dinnerware

Ceramics artist (and Joya Studio‘s resident designer) Sarah Cihat creates this beautiful collection of porcelain dinnerware, hand-casted and fully glazed.

The edges are intentionally left for a “decayed,” rough finish, and hand-painted with 22-carat gold.

Shop the pieces available now, exclusively at Barneys New York on Madison Avenue and coming soon online.

via Clotheshorse

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Steep discounts draw shoppers on day after Christmas – Chicago Sun

Staff Reporter

December 26, 2013 4:12PM

Michelle VanDermey shops on State Street in Chicago Thursday afternoon during a busy shopping day full of after Christmas deals. | Michael R. Schmidt-For Sun-Times Media

Article Extras

Updated: December 26, 2013 8:49PM

Bright signs boasting big markdowns were enough to send State Street shoppers into a frenzy the day after Christmas — one of the top 10 busiest shopping days in the country.

At Old Navy and HM clothing stores, a steady flow of customers rushed in, lured by signs in the window advertising 75 percent off merchandise.

Michelle Vandermey stopped into nearby Macy’s to buy her dream gift, a mixer.

“I’ve been saving up gift cards for a while and I got some for Christmas and I’m using that one to get the ultimate KitchenAid mixer,” said Vandermey, 44, who lives in the Loop. “I thought it was a really good deal. I’m pretty excited.”

The day after Christmas is typically a great day for deals. And some retailers got an early online start this year. Kohl’s and Target posted their big deals online on Christmas Day.

Although not yet able to measure Thursday’s sales, digital analysts at comScore, which measures online sales, predicted a 14 percent boost in online sales through Dec. 22. Instead, it saw a 10 percent boost, compared to last year. Adam Lella, an analyst with comScore, said the shortened holiday season is to blame.

“Just having those less heavy shopping days total makes it a little less predictable,” Lella said. “[Online] sales were a little bit disappointing.”

But those out to catch some good deals in person walked away with some steals Thursday.

“I got a couple of good deals, a car vacuum for $5 and a racecar for my godson for $7,” said Javida Boddy, of Englewood, who was both returning and buying items at Macy’s on Thursday.

“This is my day, the day after Christmas. It’s perfect for finding deals,” Boddy, 36, said.

The National Retail Federation this year predicted a 3.9 percent growth in holiday sales, despite a shorter holiday season.

ShopperTrak, the shopping research firm, estimates the day after Christmas to be the seventh busiest shopping day of the year in terms of sales, and the fifth busiest day in terms of shopper traffic, according to spokeswoman Teresa Burgin.

“Obviously the sales today are affected because a lot of things are on markdown. You also have returns going against sales . . . retailers are seeing a lot of merchandise moving but they may not see it in total sales, because of the impact of returns and markdowns.

Burgin said Saturday is also projected to be in the top 10 in terms of sales as well.

“Those of us who are working today, we have to wait until Saturday to go out and do our shopping or exchange our gifts,” Burgin said.

Burgin said day-after Christmas sales are typically better when Christmas falls on a Monday, Friday or a weekend, since most people have the following day off. Since Christmas fell on a Wednesday this year, many were back to work on Thursday, missing some good deals.

Wal-Mart on Thursday boasted its “Super Saving Celebration,” which included thousands of items at 25 to 50 percent off. Those include a Nintendo 3DS XL System at $199.96 with a $50 Wal-Mart gift card, and a 60-inch Vizio HDTV for $998.

“Some of those items are Christmas supplies, toys and other merchandise across the store,” said Molly Blakeman, Wal-Mart spokeswoman. “There’s also some big discounts on merchandise customers are looking to use their gift cards on.”

But for some, the day after Christmas is about spending time — and money — with family.

“It’s kind of a family tradition for us to keep it simple the day after Christmas,” Chuck Young, 50, of Crystal Lake said, alongside his two sons, Brad, 22 and Evan, 21. “We came down here to spend time together as a family, and take advantage of the sales. The kids can buy what they want and we get to spend more time as a family.”


Twitter: @tinasfon

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