Tuesday, October 31, 2006

halo win

nothing much to story story today
I was the bus monitor.
Everybody from the american school was late this morning coz they either had to put their costumes on or had to pack them up into plastic bags.
There was an anime pussycat princess in my bus. If I didnt know her mother I would've been a little bit turned on. She was kinda cute. (I forgot that i have relatives reading this blog)
On the way back from school this afternoon, Anis was ooh-ing and aah-ing at the different costumes that she saw.
"Bonda, look! There's a princess!!" (there were several princesses today).
"Bonda, I see a witch!"
They want to go trick-a-treating tomorrow night but we have an invitation for dinner. Maybe I'll bring the candy to that house and do some face painting for the kids instead.

Tomorrow is "International Day" for the British School. The kids are gonna wear their eid clothes: Boys - javanese batik shirt, Girl - baju kurung. They're gonna have a parade around the school, then ethy're gonna have a mini concert where they'll sing songs from different countries. I'm going to go watch and I have not decided what to wear. Prolly something nice, so that maybe if we have a chance to take a family picture, it'll pass off as a decent 'gambar raya'.
Ihsan and Anis has to bring some malaysian food to share with their friends. I'm gonna make cucur keria (sweet potato wheels). I submitted the recipe for The International Cookbook that the Parents Volunteer Group published last year and since they're also selling the recipe book tomorrow, I thought it'd be appropriate to demonstrate what it really look/taste like.
So I've boiled the sweet potatoes. I just need to mash 'em, then mix 'em with flour and eggs and then shape them into wheels before frying them and rolling them in sugar.
I also have to do a little write up to introduce the dish to the kids..
dang. I better get to it then.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Easy Peasy Rice Krispy treats (Kuih raya senang giller)

Okay, let's take the attention off how fat or not fat I am and let's focus on making *you* fat.

This must be the easiest peasiest recipe i've ever found.
My readers from the west must be suprised to find out that most Malaysians have never made or tasted rice krispy treats before. We have a malaysian version of it called 'bepang' (bear-punk), but it is held together with caramel. The reason why we have never had rice krispy treats before is because it requires the use of marshmallows, which is made using gelatine, which may or may not be of porcine origins.
Nowadays there are more and more halal marshmallows in the market, and I'm sure after their mommies reads this post, more malaysian kids will be able to enjoy rice krispy treats!

Easy peasy Rice Krispy Treats

3 tablespoons butter
300 grams marshmallows (preferrably white, but I guess you can use any color)
6 cups rice krispies

In a big wok/pot, melt butter over slow fire. Add the marshmallows and stir till all is melted and consistent. Pour in the rice krispies, fold until all is mixed well. Pour into a baking pan lined with waxed paper (or greased with butter). Spread it out evenly using a buttered spatula or a piece of wax paper. Let cool to set (it wont be sticky anymore), cut into squares.

Yummy crunchy squares

I used chocolate rice krispy cereals (Poppins Choco Bits) coz they were cheaper than Kell0g's white rice krispies and ermm they're chocolate!. The brand of marshmallows I used were "Mmmmmalows" and it has a halal certification.
This made about 2 dozen 1.5-inch squares (with bits and pieces of the ends leftover for me to munch on.. *wink*). These treats won't keep for more than a day I think, but I guess you dont have to worry much about how to keep leftovers.
I brought it to the Raya open house on the first day of Eid. At first it was sorta ignored, but then one kid came and picked one up, then walked back to where all the children were gathering and a few minutes later a drove of them came and finished off the whole thing!
I put mine in paper cups (to make a show as if I had worked extra hard to make them. tee hee). I guess you could also pretty them up more by putting sprinkles while it's still gooey and sticky.

Happy trying!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Gambar raya (eid picture)

We had to put the camera on the coffee table, stacked on top of a few books and took the picture with a timer.
I think that explains why I look so fat.. it's coz of the camera angle.
heh heh.

Sorry that Izani was not looking at the camera. He wasn't in a good mood just then. And I wanted to smile, but I was also trying to calm izani down. It's kinda difficult to grin when you have a wriggly whiny baby in your arms.

Next year I think we'll take a picture outside instead of in the living room.. our eid pictures always turns out dark.

p/s that's the kebaya. It's a two piece dress - a long skirt and a button-front top.

Friday, October 27, 2006

5 days

Day 1
Started the morning with ketupat and rendang and taufik fried up some sausages. Was happy that I could still fit into my old kebaya.
Got Liza's family to come over and she brought some nasi impit and rendang daging. I fried up the meehoon that I was going to bring to an open house and served them that too.
Went to the open house, ate nasi dagang, laksam, mee rebus, nasi minyak and numerous assortment of cookies.
2 hours into the gathering I felt a button pop.
So much for fitting into my old kebaya. ThankGod for long headscarves.

Day 2
Went to Farah's in B@hrain.
Encountered throngs of Pakistani/Indian foreign workers hanging out at the island in the middle where the immigration and customs were. They were everywhere taking pictures. Some even climbed the fountains. It was like a bollywood movie meets an animal planet show on ants.
Ate nasi impit with kuah kacang and kari ayam and rendang. Ate lepat pulut with kuah sekaya, TWICE. Coz it was SO good.
Wore a long dress, so no buttons popping, but heh.. the extra room might not be such a good thing for my girth... :P

Day 3
Went to Linda's at Khaloud.
Ate mee kari, nasi minyak trengganu , chocolate cake, and numerous numerous cookies and tit-bits.
Later stopped over at Kak Zaharah's, and ate a bit of roti jala.
Wore an old dress that fortunately, still felt okay even after stuffing myself.

Day 4
Went to Kak Ana's in Ar@mco. Wore another kebaya that I was happy to find out, 2 days before the end of Ramadhan, I could still fit into. It felt a bit tight before we left the house, but I was confident that it would last me through the day.
Ate mee udang, nari bokhari, nasi minyak and oh gawd I can't remember anymore.
All I can remember is that before the afternoon was over, my front button popped numerous numerous times. At first I thought it could be because I was on 'full tank', but even after breastfeeding Izani , the buttons popped everytime I reached out for something (food lah what else).
Good thing my headscarf was extra wide, extra thick and extra long. It covered me as I went on to have tiramisu at Kak Faridah's, meehoon sup at Kak Nasibah's and lastly really spicy fried kuey teow at Kak Shakira's.
I never learn.
Raya setahun sekali babe.

Day 5
Kak Faridah said she wants to come over.
I called up Sharliza who just came back from Cyprus, Liza who's husband is away on duty and Kak Ana, and asked them to come over too.
I made mee kari, heat up my ketupat and rendang and made tepung boko.
Other people brought lots of other food.
Most of it are still in my fridge.
I am glad I do not have a weighing scale in my home.

Tomorrow: pay back time?

Hey hey go wish photostyle Happy birthday!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Easy peasy Rendang Tok Cikgu Munah and Ketupat Perantau


First, a disclaimer.
I don't know what the real Rendang Tok is really like. I don't know if this recipe that Cikgu Munah, my mom-in-law, gave me is really the recipe for Rendang Tok, or does she just call it that coz it's the Rendang that Taufik's grandmother (whom he calls 'Tok') always makes.
aaanyways. My mom-in-law makes this rendang for eid every year. She also makes Ketupat Daun Palas, which is basically glutinous rice cakes wrapped in palm leaves (daun palas) into a tri-coned packet.
Eversince Taufik and I got married, on the last day of Ramadhan my mom-in-law and I would sit in that small bit of space between her dining table and her living room with a bunch of daun palas and a pot of glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk in between us. I always have to ask for a review of how to tie the leaves into the tri-cone shape, making sure I get it right and don't end up with a 'female' ketupat instead of a 'male' ketupat (Don't ask me how and why... you've got to see it to understand).
So this ritual has become some sort of a tradition between us, and I only realized that when I couldn't make ketupat daun palas with her last year. That was why this year I was determined to have some semblance to the eid that I have gotten used to for the past 14 years or so.
The process of getting there might not have been the same, but the end result was close enough to the real thing that it made me feel all chocked up on eid morning.

Easy Peasy Rendang Tok

Pound or blend fine:
15 shallots
5 garlic pips
5 - 10 dried chillies (adjust to your desired spicyness)
1 inch fresh ginger root

1kg chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 liter coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass, lightly pound to break surface and release oils
2 pieces asam gelugor (what is this in english??)
salt and sugar to taste

Dump everything except the asam gelugor and salt and sugar in a huge pot. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, under medium heat for two hours or until coconut milk turns oily. Add in the asam gelugor, let simmer for another 30 minutes to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and sugar.
Serve with ketupat or nasi impit (rice cakes)

Easy Peasy Ketupat Perantau
300grams Thai glutinous rice
200ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
enough water to mix with coconut milk to make the same volume as the uncooked rice

Measure the rice to determine it's volume. Mix coconut milk, sugar and water to make the same volume of rice. Put everything in a pot, preferably non-stick. Boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Once liquid is halfway dried up, cover the pot and simmer over very low heat until all liquid is dried up and rice turns transluscent. (if rice does not feel gritty when pressed between your fingers, it's done)
Let cool enough to touch.
Put a spoonful into a ziploc bag and knead and press towards one corner of the bag to turn it into a triangular/tri-cone shape.
Eat with Rendang or Sambal udang kering.

... rasalah ketupat ini, dengan rendang nya sekali ...

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I went to Farah's place in Bahrain for iftar yesterday.
I had told her I would bring samosa for her mom and a chocolate pavlova for dessert. I had asked her if she had a mixer which I can use to whip the cream with, and she forgot to answer and I assumed she has one.
We arrived, after salam peluk-peluk, I took out the boxes of whipping cream and she looked at it and said "I don't have a mixer".
"Tipu!! (You're lying)" I said, sure that she was just pulling my leg.
She gave me a grin.
"You're lying, right? rightt????" I started to panic.

She handed me a metal bowl and this flimsy whisk made of a metal handle and 3 strips of wobbly plastic.
"Good Luck!!" she laughed.
I sat in the corner of her kitchen, whipping cream by hand with that wobbly whisk, grumbling to her.
"Farah, you know I'm gonna write this in my blog. I'm gonna tell everyone how you tortured me and made me whisk whip cream by hand!"
Her mom and her just laughed at me.
I thought it was going to take me forever. We prolly won't be able to eat the pavlova till isya'. I swore that if I managed to whip up the cream, I'd declare myself to be THE culinary goddess on my blog.

jangan marah...
Perfectly whipped cream, by hand, all stiff and fluffy in it's creamy goodness, in about.. hm.. I wasn't timing myself. It felt like forever and like my wrist was gonna get disjointed but I think it was maybe about 20 minutes coz I managed to put the cream, bananas and chopped chocolates on the pavlova just in time for iftar.

Iftar was really gooooodd. Meehoon goreng, Dalca, Pajeri nenas and Ayam masak merah, all cooked by someone else. Always good.
Farah's house had these low sofas that the arabs prefer lined up against the wall of her spacious living room (macam you buat lah lollies). Her kid and my kids had a swell time messing the floor up with train tracks and playdoh.

We went home just after isya', got caught up at the immigration checkpoint with Saudis clambering to go back home.
Arrived home, tired, but satisfied . :)

and this morning I forgot to wake up for sahur. I had set my alarm clock but in a daze I had switched it off and went back to dreaming of heating up dalca and pajeri. I was woken up by Izani at 6am.. dang.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eid Mubarak

Since tomorrow is Friday and most of my relatives and friends in Malaysia will be starting their eid holidays soon after, I'd like to make sure I get all my wishes and asking for forgiveness over with before you guys go off(-line).

Eid Mubarak!!
Happy Holidays!!
Drive Safely!!
Selamat Hari Raya!!
Maaf Zahir Batin!!
Maafkan segala terkasar bahasa, tersilap kata, tersalah type... (and terlupa nak singgah or comment).
Hope you guys have a safe and joyous holiday, and I hope that all your deeds during Ramadhan were fruitful and accepted by Allah.

Makan ketupat, lemang, nasi dagang mama, rendang cikgu munah, serunding bilis mak andak, sambal belacan mak su, nasi ayam pak teh.. ingat-ingat lah kami yang dok jauh di perantauan nih...
adeiiih dah sebak dah...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Easy Peasy Fish Samosa

just preparing this, inhaling the fragrances of pounded fish, shallots and pepper, made me feel like I was in my blue pinafore and sitting by the dry longkang in front of the Assunta Kuantan library eating temosa (fish puffs).
If they say "Necessity is the mother of all invention", I say "Desperation is the mother of all culinary inventions", especially if the desperation is in the mother who is hungry and constantly craving even though she's no longer pregnant. When you gotta eat, you gotta cook.

Easy Peasy Fish Samosa

One medium sized mackarel (boiled in salted water till flesh is cooked, pick out the flesh, discard bones)
5-6 shallots
10-15 black peppercorns
1/2 cup freshly grated coconuts (if using dessicated coconut, cook with a little bit of coconut milk before using)
salt and sugar to taste
samosa leaves (store bought, baby)

Ground shallots with the peppercorn. Pound the fish flesh together with the ground ingredients till fine. Transfer to a bowl, add in the grated coconuts and salt and sugar to taste (You have to strike a balance between sweetness and saltiness).
Put about a teaspoon at one edge of a samosa leaf, then fold into triangles.
Deep fry till golden and crispy. Eat it on it's own or with ketchup or hot sauce.

forgive the lighting.. it's that time of day when the sun still shines in but the kitchen is still a little dark even with the lights on

I just realized I don't have the picture of the finished product... heh heh.. hungry stomachs lead to forgetful brains.. sorry!

Other uses for this filling:
Use more fish, less coconuts, add thinly sliced chillies and wrap it in a banana leaf in the shape of a cone then grill it, and you get... tadaaa.... sata!!!
Put the filling in glutinous rice, wrap it into a cylinrical shape in banana leaf and then grill it and you get... tadaaa.... pulut lepa !!
Put the filling in glutinous flour, shape into balls, roll in sesame seeds and deep fry them till golden brown and you get .. tada .. kuih boom !!
Fry the coconuts till brown, pound till fine (but not till it's oily and becomes kerisik), mix it with the rest of the ingredients and you get .. tadda.. sambal nasi kerabu!! (now if I can only figure out how to make the tumis...)

Try it and tell me how it turned out in your kitchen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hello, We're the Gerbilbutts!

Ilham just borrowed Captain Underpants and The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants (by Dav Pilkey) from the library. Eventhough it contains gross mispellings (intentionally), I found the book(s) (apparently there's a series!) to be pretty hilarious.
This particular one had a chart where Professor Poopypants (who is taking over the world) forces you to change your name.
We found out that we are the Gerbilbutts.
Since the Name Change-O-Chart 2000 (that's the name of the chart used to change your name) uses the initials of your original name to determine your new name and 3 of my kids have the same initials, we ended up with 3 kids with the same name.

We are:
Pinky Gerbilbutt (Taufik)
Crusty Gerbilbutt (Elisa)
Chim-chim Gerbilbutt I (Ilham)
Chim-chim Gerbilbutt II (Ihsan)
Stinky Gerbilbutt (Anis) who then changed her name to Snotty Gerbilbutt coz she doesn't want to be called 'Stinky'.
Chim-chim Gerbilbutt III (Izani)

Adam, Aiysha and Aliya, you kids are all Stinky Pizzachunks.
Najwa and Naim, you kids are all Zippy Barfnoses.
Arif is Stinky Barfbrain.
Aliff is Stinky Rhinotushie.

boy, there are a lot of stinky kids in this family...!

Monday, October 16, 2006

what's in your head... in your head...

in my head, actually:

yesterday I had leftovers from the night before: half of a fried mackerel. I also bought some samosa leaves for a culinary request from bahrain. I had a craving for temosa (like karipap, but fish filling). I knew I had shallots. I knew I had grated coconuts.
So in went the fried mackerel bits sans bones, one shallot, a thin slice of ginger, and 2 peppercorns into the mortar and pestle. Several pounds later I noticed a familiar yummy smell. I must be doing something right. Mixed the pounded stuff with freshly grated coconuts, salt and sugar. put a dollop in each samosa leaf, folded them into triangles and deep fried them.
turned out great, except for a slight bitterness from the crushed ginger, which I will exclude the next time i make this.
no pictures, coz who has time to take pictures during iftar?

I forgot to mention that we've got our passports back, including Izani's.
woot woot.
So this weekend we're going to Bahrain to activate our multiple entry visa's and to enjoy some free home-cooked iftar, specially cooked by farah's mom imported from Malaysia.
I'll be bringing banana chocolate pavlova and by request, like I said, some samosa.

We were on our way to the kids' school last Thursday for a parent-teacher conference when we passed a construction site. The huge billboard said "Jarir Center" and at the bottom was a list of outlets that they intend to hold. Hyper-panda, Jarir bookstore, others which I do not notice and a familiar yellow four letter word in a blue square.
yay for the best four letter word in the world: I. K. E. A. !!!
I know it's stupid, but I love IKEA.
Another year or so (coz that's usually how long it takes for them to construct a new mall) I will finally be able to really call this town 'home' ;)
In related news, they opened a carrefour behind rashid mall last weekend. I doubt they'll have a rasa gourmet ayamas outlet there though. or a nagoya textile store. or a payless bokstore. and i won't find my friends hanging out there during friday lunch hour. ah well.

I answered PB's 20 things that make you feel good thingy and I realized that most of the things that make me feel good requires interaction with another person.
hm.. am i uncomfortable being by myself?

i made no bake cheesecake just now, coz we're gonna have iftar at someone's place. I think I overbeat the mix coz the cream started to curdle a bit.
it's in the fridge, setting. I hope it turns out okay nevertheless.
i'm gonna put pineapple bits on top. I hope the yumminess of the pineapples will hide the non-smooth texture of the cheesecake.
*hits head on kitchen counter*

i'm thinking... rendang tok cikgu munah with pulut kuning on Eid morning. I can make the rendang tok a day in advance, and the pulut kuning shouldnt be too hard, eh? but i've gotta learn how to make pulut kuning.
Anyone can help me?

izani's awake.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Izani is 6 months!

Read up on him here.

i think i'm gonna update his blog monthly now. On the 15th of every month, to be exact.
i'll include bits of stories on him here under JuvenileJam, just like the rest of my kids.

gotta go. he's wriggling on my lap, demanding a bath.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Easy Peasy Pajeri Nenas (Curried Pineapples)

Pajeri, pronounced as "parr-jurr-ree".
This dish looks really ugly, but tastes really yummy.
I usually don't like having pineapples in dishes (I especially hate them on pizzas), but eversince I had this dish at Taufik's aunts' house in Teluk Kumbar, Penang, I crave for it every ramadhan. It goes especially well with steaming hot rice and anything else. Everytime I eat this dish, it reminds me of having meals with Taufik's aunts at their house in Penang.

I learnt how to make this dish when I overheard a conversation at one of the melayu gatherings. One of the ladies were talking about how she made Pajeri Terung (Curried Brinjal) and that was the first time I discovered that making Pajeri is just like making your everyday curry, except that you use kerisik(fried coconut paste) and gula melaka (a sweetener made from coconut nectar).
The first time I made this, I had to call up a friend (winks at Gee) to ask if I had to use coconut milk (No). I was so happy that it turned out good and tasted exactly like what I had expected it to taste.. spicy, nutty and sweet. yum yum.
Okeh, enough stories, here's the recipe.

Pajeri nenas (curried pineapples)

half can pineapple slices
5 shallots sliced thinly
2 garlic pips sliced thinly
1 cinnamon stick
1 star annise
3 cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon of curry powder (i used meat curry powder)
3 tablespoons kerisik*
3 tablespoons gula melaka(can be substituted with brown sugar and/or molasses)
salt to taste

In a saucepan, heat up a little bit of oil and saute sliced shallots, garlic, cinnamon stick, star annise and cardamom seeds till fragrant. Once shallots start to brown, add in the curry powder with a few tablespoons of water and fry till a thin layer of oil seperates from the paste. Add a little bit of water just to stop the cooking, then add in the kerisik and gula melaka. Add salt to taste. Check for your desired consistency (I like mine really thick). Add more kerisik, gula melaka or water till the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Once sauce boils, add in the pineapples and let simmer for 5 minutes to allow the fruit to soak up the sauce.

Dish should taste curry-like, but slightly nutty and sweet, with a slightly gritty texture (from the kerisik). You can add more curry powder if you like your pajeri to be more spicy.

* How to make kerisik:
Fry fresh grated coconuts or dessicated coconuts in a dry frying pan till coconuts are browned. Use your mortar+pestle to ground the browned coconuts till it becomes fine and oily.
Kerisik is a great thickener for curries and gives it a nutty edge. Especially used for curries that are eaten with bread instead of rice (coz it sticks to the bread).

Friday, October 13, 2006


I don't usually do this, but I just feel the need to rant. This is not meant as a personal attack on anyone, i am just venting my feelings. So please, don't take it personally, if you happen to read this.

I really shouldnt take things too personally.

But I cant help it, I'm a woman!!
and women tend to internalize things more than men. When something goes wrong, women blame themselves, while men blame other people.

You know we have a gathering of melayus for iftar every Thursday during Ramadhan. I have been inviting this one malay family to join us since the start of Ramadhan.
First week, they said it was too short notice. They had gone to buy groceries and had come home after 4, so the mom didnt have time to prepare something to bring along (these gatherings are potluck, but you're not really obligated to bring anything. People don't frown on you if you just bring a few bottles of pepsi or even come empty handed. It's the company, not the food that makes the gatehring). It's okay, I said, maybe next week then, coz we have this every week in ramadhan.
Second week, they said their kids insists on having crabs.
Third week(this week), they said they have some company thingy.
I can't help but feel a little dissed, you know.
I mean, if you really wanna come, you'd arrange things around, but obviously you don't really wanna come.
I really shouldnt feel this way, coz I'm not even the host! but why do I still feel this way????
I voiced my feelings to Taufik and he said "Releklah.. biarkan diorang" (Relax, let them be)
I tried chanting "It's them, not me. It's them, not me. It's them, not me" but it didnt work.
I keep wondering, why?? why?? why???
Is there something negative that they see in me that they're afraid would be generally representative of the melayus that they'd rather not mix with the rest of us? "You're not really nice, so I don't want to meet your friends"?? Am I nasty? Am I nosy? Am I too overly friendly? Not sophisticated enough? Not rich enough?
Do they feel too good to gather with the rest of us melayus or what?
whatt? whatttt????????

deep breaths. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale.......

okay. let's try to be a little bit more emphatic now.
Maybe, they're just embarassed.
I mean, after not being able to make it during the first 2 weeks of ramadhan, they feel a little awkward about suddenly making it on the third week of ramadhan. Like when you've missed classes for two straight days, you'd feel a little sheepish about meeting the teacher on the third day.
hokay. maybe.

okay rant over. I feel better.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Anis learnt a new word yesterday, and it's "pardon".
She jumped about the house repeating that word, then stopped to ask me, "What is pardon?"
"Pardon is like saying sorry or excuse me" I explained.
"Oh okay" she replied and continued jumping about the house saying "pardon", "pardon" and more "pardon". I wasnt sure she got the meaning of the word.
Then she varied it a bit by saying "oops, pardon" instead.

Then while she was playing with Izani , Ilham accidently bumped into her when he was trying to kiss Izani.
"Abang Ilham..! Say Pardon!" she reprimanded her older brother.
"errr pardon" said Ilham.
Okay, so maybe she does know how to use the word.

Did I tell you that we give the boys 1riyal for every full day they successfully fasted?
They have been eyeing a couple of matchbox airplanes at the supermarket for a long time. They found out how much the planes cost, then they calculated how much two would cost. They've been consolidating their money (coz Ilham has more money than Ihsan coz he has fasted more full days than Ihsan, while Ihsan has only managed to fast for half-days), counting and re-counting them everyday, and telling me how much more they need before they could afford the planes.
Last week they finally reached their goal. The whole of last week they bugged their dad to bring them to the supermarket. Last weekend they went to the supermarket and spent ALL of their money on buying the two planes.
I am amazed at their resourcefulness and unselfishness. Ilham especially, for giving away his money to Ihsan so that Ihsan can get his own plane. And Ihsan, for managing to convince his brother to share the money.
Ihsan brought his plane to school for show and tell. :) I am curious to hear what he's telling his class about the plane.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Easy Peasy Chicken and Vegetable Filling

Inspired by the comments on my post about puff pastries (especially aliya's and Richard's comments), I made a chicken and vegetable filling.

Easy Peasy Chicken and Vegetable Filling

200grams chicken breasts cut into small pieces
1 medium sized onion roughly chopped
1 large carrot diced
1/2 can whole kernel corn (roughly 100grams)
1/2 can of button mushrooms cut into small pieces, use fresh ones if you like
1 can cream of chicken soup campbell's is best.
salt and pepper to taste
a tbsp of butter

Melt butter in a saucepan and saute the onions till it becomes slightly translucent. Saute the carrots, then mushrooms. Add the chicken. Once the chicken starts to change color (to white), add in the canned soup. Do not add any water/liquid. Once all the chicken is cooked and mixture is slightly bubbly, add in the corn and take it off the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly before using.

I put mine in a puff pastry, but I think using them in a pie crust would be yummy too.

in other news:

My long awaited wedding anniversary present

Sabah cultured pearls, with sterling silver. Also got a matching necklace, dangly earrings and two rings.
tee hee!
damn .... my skin looks really dry!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The person she was

SMS conversation

Me: Is Mama with you or at her hse?
rotidua: Ours. She's praying. Klong dah sampei. Everyone will iftar at our hse today, in case u wanna talk to everyone. ceh full sentence type sms. didi la ni.
Me: Patutla berzmn nak reply. I'll call yr hp in ten minutes. Nak ckp ngan Mama je. Kaklong tido mana?
rotidua: Not now. Kat luar beli breakfast. K Long tido rumah kitaorg. tak pun call her or firhad.
me: Breakfast? Bulan pose bfast kejadah apa...
rotidua: Halo, 2 pompuan dewasa yg subur dan 3 kanak2.

So I called and talked to my mom.
Asked her how she was. She has high blood pressure the doctor said. She's taking medicine. She can't eat meat or tofu. It makes her feel heaty.
I asked her what are her plans for Eid, and she got all sebak (choked up) on me. Her house is empty now coz most of us have moved out. What's worse is that 3 of her children are not even in the country anymore.
I suggested that she take this opportunity to travel, go back to her hometown, since basically she has no responsibilities anymore. She doesn't have to worry about babysitting her grandkids or feeding her children or something.
But then she said "Nak jalan dengan siapa... ?" (Who would I travel with?)
I wanted to say "Travel alone aje lah", but I just kept quiet. Then I changed the subject.

It bothers me to see her this way. I mean, this is a woman who before she was even twenty, had gotten an opportunity to study in England, and during her school holidays, had hitchhiked her way across Europe.
I grew up listening to the stories of her travels and dreamt I could do the same. I didnt, because I didnt have the guts.
So what happened to that woman? What or who, broke that spirit? Did we, her children, do that to her?
Will my spirit be broken too when I grow older?

Maybe she just needs someone to remind her that that independent person is still there inside her.

Izani has woken up, and he's crying. Gotta go.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

suzuka oh suzuka

Championship at equal points with schumy leading only by one win.
Schumy started at 2nd and Alonso at 6th on the grid.
Alonso managed to get to 4th place after the first lap and Massa gave way to his team mate and let Schumy take the lead.
All was well as Alonso edged his way to 2nd place.
Schumy still led, with at least a 5second gap between the two champions.
I fell asleep, rest assured that Schumy would hold his place.
I woke up to find Schumy out due to engine failure.
aaarrrrgggghhhhhhhh!!! what hapeeennngggg?????
sebak tengok Schumy hug his team mates at the pit.
But there's still hope.
Maybe Alonso's car will blow up in Brazil and Schumy gets the top podium.
Kasi lah chance.. it's his last race, man...
It would be nice, no?

Other notes:
The Japanese director of this F1 live feed obviously favors his countrymen. Asyik2 tunjuk Toyota and Honda. bukannya menang pun.. Sato dapat 15th place pun nampak happy giller.
Japanese F1 crowds are very well behaved. They sat down quitely and gave polite applauses.
I'm reconsidering my dream of attending an F1 race. I can't really take a nap during the boring parts when I'm there.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

hodge podge

Firstly, I would like to welcome marhainees to efx2 :)
She's Taufik's cousin. This is the first time someone from Taufik's side of the family have read my blog. Good thing I only write nice things.. *wink*
I've told her not to show her parents my culinary posts, because then they'd ask me to cook the next time I come to their house..
tee hee!!
eh wait a minute.. but I've already cooked mee udang (prawn noodles) for them once, and it was well received.. so I guess no harm, eh?

I had 2 of the nearest melayus (read: Daneesh's family and Afiq's family. The boys are Ilham's classmates) come over for iftar yesterday. It was pot luck, so everyone brought something.
I made chicken rice with the soup, roast chicken (marinated in onions, garlic, ginger, oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce and mollasses. yummy!) and the obligatory condiments (garlic ginger chilli sambal, soy sauce/gravy from the marinade, chopped cilantro and crispy fried shallots).
Daneesh's mom brought traditional malay finger food cucur keria and seri muka (yum yum).
Afiq's mom brought a salad and kangkung goreng belacan to go with the chicken rice, a date cake and a fruit salad for dessert.

Things were a bit chaotic with the kids and all, but alhamdulillah, the dinner and conversation went well. The topic swerved and changed smoothly from rewards for fasting (I give my kids only 1riyal for every day they successfully fast, the other parents give substantially more), to co-sleeping, to holiday plans, to ghost stories (one of them has actually seen ghosts!), to weird sarawakian names (They knew a guy named "Beruang Hitam" once. Really!), to what to eat for sahur. The top floor of our house were noisy with the laughter of children, while the ground floor were noisy with the laughter of adults.
All in all a good gathering! :)

Ameen, rindu pulak kat nasi ayam pak teh...

I've got lots of blog alerts to catch up with.. so I guess I better get right on it.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Easy Peasy Puff Pastries

I have recently discovered puff pastries.
I have always admired people who brought puff pastries to iftars or gathering.. it looks so professional.. as if they spent hours in the kitchen preparing the intricate looking dish. Until one makcik unashamedly confessed "Alaaaahhh senang je.. beli kat kedai" (It's so easy, just buy at the shop).
So i tried it once but had some problems during thawing.. i thawed it too long that the pastry became so soft it stuck to each other.
So the trick to handling frozen store bought puff pastry is to follow the instructions on the packet closely. I seperate mine while it's still frozen and soften them up using water as i use them.
The fillings can be anything really, but cream cheese tend to leak out and leave and empty puff shell with burnt cheese on the outside. I had used leftover sardines, minced meat and sausages with great success. One of these days I'm gonna experiment with fruits.
Folding the pastry is really up to your imagination. The easiest is the 'roll', where you just roll it around a piece of sausage. But here's an easy and nice looking way to fold:

Spoon in the filling, fold pastry in half. Rub some water on the edges and press them together to create a seal. Crimp edges using a fork.

Poke holes with fork to let the steam out while it bakes. Arrange on a baking sheet, brush with eggs and bake per package instructions.

voila! easy peasy lemon squeazy....

Happy Trying!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Anis, Ihsan and I were at the dinner table while Taufik and Ilham were out taking Izani for a walk. Ihsan and I were discussing the advantages and disadvantages of time travelling when Anis did this :

and said "Bonda, I am crushing your head". She pressed her fingers together and said "squish".
I just laughed my head off!!
I asked her where she learnt to do that and she said she learnt it from school. We spent the rest of the evening squishing each other's heads.

Ihsan asked me "Bonda, Are you really married to Ayah?" when I was clipping my nails.
"Of course!" I answered.
"Did you have a white shirt?" he asked.
"You mean a white dress? As a matter of fact, I did" I indulged.
"How come I didnt see you marry Ayah?" he pressed on.
"You know what, the next time we go back home to Malaysia, I'll show pictures of our wedding day, How about that?"
Both Ilham and Ihsan got very excited about that prospect.
"In fact, I married Ayah TWICE!" I divulged.
"Whattt????" they were suprised.
"So you kissed him twice??" Ihsan made a disgusted face.
" I kissed him more than twice.." I winked cheekily.
"eeeyeeewwwwww!!!!" they went.

Ihsan had a class trip to a fire station last week. They learned about fire safety and he came home with a plastic fireman's hat.
Izani just loves the hat..

My heart goes out to the parents in Nickel Mines.
You can't help but wonder what in the world is going on. I mean, 3 school shootings in the past week. "Crazy" doesn't quite cover it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tasting Test, Testing Taste

No pictures. I swear.

My 'culinary skills' actually rely heavily on my tasting skills.
I totally trust my tastebuds. Once I have figured out what an ingredient tastes (and smells) like on it's own, I usually can imagine and predict what it would taste like in a dish.

This skill is very useful when the original ingredient is unavailable and I have to substitute. Most usually, I would be able to accurately substitute an ingredient with something or a combination of things that taste almost the same. Take nnisan or Gula Melaka for instance. It's a sweet thing made out of air nira kelapa, the nectar from coconut flowers. If I can't get the real thing, I could substitute it with brown sugar and a little bit of coconut milk or better yet, molasses and coconut milk. (The sweet molasses, not the seafood kind, okay?).
I'm allergic to belacan (evil stinky paste made of fermented prawns), so when a recipe calls for it, I usually substitute with ground dried prawns and a bit of oyster sauce. In sambal belacan (a spicy dip/sauce made primarily with fresh chillies), the belacan can be replaced by a few roasted shallots and garlic. I don't know why, somehow it works.
There are some ingredients though, (spices most usually), that can never be subtituted. Like lemongrass and gallangal... somehow nothing comes close to the real thing.

I also have a good memory of tastes. I can recall stuff I ate when I was a child, how it tasted and how they felt on my tongue. Sometimes in my cooking and eating, I would search for those tastes and cling to them. This was how I discovered the recipe for my grandmother's Ketupat Sotong (Rice Stuffed Squid in creamy sauce). I recalled the taste and smell and discovered that certain combinations of ingredients gave out the same taste and smell, and tried it out. It may not be an accurate recipe (maybe she had a secret ingredient, who knows), but it's close enough for me to be reminded of my childhood and of my grandmother.

Because of my reliance on my taste buds, during the fasting month, sometimes my cooking goes a little bit off. I know what needs to go in, but I have a problem estimating how much should go in without tasting it. Therefore, sometimes my dishes would turn out slightly bland, or slightly on the strong side (too much sugar, or too much spices or too much salt. :P ).

Growing up in a house with 4 other women, getting a hold of a food taster during Ramadhan was never a problem. There would usually be at least one of us who were having a visit from the 'Japanese Army' (or 'The Crimson Tide' as some of you might call it) and would not be fasting. The red flagged person would be the one my mom would ask to taste her dishes. She would ask, "Dah cukup rasa, masam, manis, masin, lemak?", ("Is it sour, sweet, salty, creamy enough?"), then the food taster would tell whether it needed a bit more asam jawa (tamarind) or sugar or salt or santan (coconut milk).

I tried to enlist the help of my kids, but they lack the vocabulary to describe tastes and degrees of it. The boys would go "mmm.. it's yummy!", and I wouldn't know if it's for real or if they're just trying to please me.
"Is it salty enough?" I would ask. "yeah, it's good" they would say.
"Are you sure it doesnt need more salt?" I would press. "Okay maybe just a little bit" they would offer.
"Are you sure????" I would panic.
And they run away scared, whining "I don't knoww...!!!! It's yummmyyyy alreadddyyyy!!"
I would then sigh and give up and just pray for the best.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Easy Peasy Birthday Cake

Okay be forewarned. Yummy looking cake ahead.

This is prolly the effing easiest birthday cake I ever made. It's so easy I'm not even categorizing it under 'Culinary Jam'.
I took Betty Cr0cker's French Vanilla cake mix and baked it. Damn.. did my kitchen smell heavenly!
I sliced the cake into 2 discs.
Whipped some cream with a few tablespoons of icing sugar.
Slapped it on the bottom piece of cake, then sandwiched it with the other piece of cake. I dumped the rest of the sweetened whipped cream on top, then arranged fresh strawberry halves on top.

It wasn't a strawberry shortcake, but it made Ihsan happy. He can't tell the difference anyways.

The cake was moist and fluffy. The cream, well, creamy, with just a slight sweetness. The strawberries was a bit sour, so I had to dust them with some icing sugar.
It looked pretty too. You could never go wrong with strawberries and cream.

Ihsan ate two pieces!!

Forgive me for subjecting you to this so early in the morning...

Birthday Boys

Every year for the last 7 years, we have a double celebration on the 1st of October. On the first year we celebrated at the hospital, of course. Even though Taufik's birthday had always been low-key previously, in subsequent years we had had to have some sort of a party, big or small, for Ihsan's sake.

I havent been out shopping that much, so I didnt buy Ihsan or Taufik any gifts, so I'm just gonna do what I can: cook!
Yesterday I made some chocolate cupcakes and this morning Ihsan brought them to school for his classmates and teachers. He has been asking for strawberry shortcake, I'm gonna try my best to make it for iftar (but I haven't started on it yet!! *panic*).
I've asked Taufik to go buy some fish head and I'm going to cook fish head curry with some aubergines and okra for him. I'll fry up some salted fish with shallots and make a simple lettuce and cucumber salad to go with the curry and white rice. I think that'll be quite yummy. ;)

Okay a little note on the birthday boys' growth:

Ihsan has blossomed into a very social boy. He has made quite a lot of friends in school and in our compound. When I pick him up from school, I notice that there will always be kids who walk by and yell "Bye Ihsan!!" at us. Some afternoons I would get kids pressing my doorbell asking if Ihsan can come out and play. One day I even got a call from one of the mothers asking if Ihsan can come over and play! He is gone almost every afternoon at 4:30pm and he would be out till he hears the sound of the azan. He has been practicing to fast, but only lasts half the day (till around 11am). He is doing very well in his lessons, though he still needs to work on properly articulating the whole bunch of stuff in his head.

Taufik has blossomed into the star salesman at his workplace. His natural ability in making friends and maintaning relationships has proven to be his asset in his strive to be the best at what he does. I am really proud of his drive and his ability to work hard, yet still able to strike the balance with the family. The kids just look up to him and will jump out of the sofa and run down the stairs to greet him the moment they hear his voice at the door going "Assalamu-alaikum!", because they know that when he's home, he's home.
I think he's also starting to chill out and is more willing to enjoy the fruits of his labours now. He's more open to spending some money for stuff that we considered to be luxuries before, like shopping, eating out and travelling.

Happy Birthday Ihsan and Taufik!!