Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Princess and Prawns

Anis's halloween costume
kebaya bandung bought in jakarta last raya haji, hair net to make a bun, silk flower hair tie from CityPlaza, a small faux tiara (so small you cant even see it from here)

Today's lunch
Leftover sambal tumis udang (prawns in thick spicy sauce), chickpeas , chopped cilantro and crunchy celery, tossed with spaghetti.
Yummeh. *smacks lips*

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Malaysi@n vs Fil1pin0 agar-agar

Last weekend I learnt the hard way that not all agar-agars are alike.

After successfully making a no-bake cheesecake (yes! a no-bake cheesecake!) and chocolate pudding by modifying the panna cotta recipe, I confidently made both of the dishes (yes, ladies and gentlemen, BOTH) with intentions of bringing it to a gathering.
I had run out of regular Mal@ysian agar-agar (the stringy kind that look more like colorless raffia than food), so I used Fil1pino agar-agar (looks like rectangular blocks of thin flaky plastic) instead. Assuming they were the same, I simply used the same measurements - 1/2 cup of agar-agar to 5 cups of liquid.
I was wrong in my assumptions.
So. wrong!
My pudding and cheesecake didnt set!!!! :(
They were still wobbly and runny even after hours and hours in the fridge.
I even put my pudding in the freezer when I got to the host's house. It hardened a bit but softened not more than 15 minutes after I took it out. Everyone thought it was some kind of porridge! I did not dare to take out the cheescake from it's mold.
Utterly embarassed, I packed everything, even the leftovers, and brought them home.
The failed chocolate pudding is now transferred into my ice lolly molds. At least my kids can have it one of these afternoons.
The cheesecake ... is still in my freezer.. *hangs head in shame*

I vowed to find out how to use the Fil1pino agar-agar. I'll be damned if I'm gonna be defeated by it.
Being an engineer by training, I took the empirical method to find out the perfect ratio of Fil1pino agar-agar to liquid. I carefully measured the agar-agar and the liquids, tried out the smallest ratio first before adding more liquids, until I got to the desired result.
Using only a small amount of agar-agar for each experiment, I managed to achieve success by using only half a packet of the agar-agar.

Here's the magic equation when you're using the Fil1pino agar-agar :
1/2 cup of agar-agar to 2 cups liquid

So if you're ever stuck with using Fil1pino agar-agar instead of the Malaysi@n kind, you know what to do :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ilham's hand singing

Ilham really loved the hand puppet show ben did, so he decided to make one of his own.
Obviously it's not as sophisticated (no disco balls! ;) ), but I thought it was pretty hilarious, especially since he chose to sang himself. I was quite suprised that his voice is not bad :) (and that he knew the words to the songs he sang)

Enjoy the show... !

Do you recognize the songs?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

L@cy White Indonesi@n Keb@ya

There you go.

(sorry for having to mask the title with aliases. I dont want this post to get unwanted attention *grin*)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Easy Peasy Kuah Kacang (Peanut Sauce)

I hope you guys weren't holding your breath waiting for this. Here's the post on the peanut sauce.

Kuah Kacang (coo-ah car-chunk, Kuah=Sauce, kacang=peanuts) is Peanut Sauce in malay.
There are many versions of this recipe, ranging from throw-everything-in-the-pot-easy to roast-or-saute-each-exotic-ingredient-complicated (which is not really that complicated, actually). My version is like just half a notch up the former in the difficulty scale, simply because I don't like the taste of raw onions/shallots.

Easy Peasy Kuah Kacang

1 cup roasted peanuts (ground to your preferred texture)
5-8 shallots
2-3 garlic pips
5-10 dried chillies (boiled to rehydrate and soften)
1 - 2 cups coconut milk (depends on how creamy and how thick you want the sauce to be)
3-4 tablespoons palm sugar (can be substituted with brown sugar or combination of brown sugar and mollasses)
a few tablespoons of oil for sauteing
salt to taste
one stalk lemongrass (optional, but makes a world of a difference)
optional: 3 shallots and one garlic, thinly sliced and fried till brown, crispy and fragrant)

Ground shallots, garlic and dried chillies to a fine paste.
Saute paste in oil till fragrant and a thin film of oil rises to the top.
Add in the coconut milk, ground peanuts and palm sugar. If using lemongrass, break with the back of a knife and add to pot.
Bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring ocassionally, till a thin film of oil form on the surface. Taste and season to your liking.
Optional : before serving, sprinkle crispy fried shallots and garlic on top

Kuah kacang, served with rice cakes and spicy beef floss

This sauce goes really well with rice cakes, as a dip for raw crunchy vegetables like cucumbers, carrots and onions, savoury fritters and fish/seafood crackers or even fried firm tofu, and also on grilled or barbecued meats.

Okay as usual, side notes:
. I used salted dry roasted peanuts (the kind you find at the junkfood section), so I usually taste the sauce before deciding whether it needs more salt. You can also use honey roasted peanuts, which means you can use less palm sugar.
. Brown sugar + mollasses (2 parts to 1) is the closest substitute to palm sugar that I've discovered. It creates the same sweet earthy flavour.
. I have known people who have substituted the whole peanuts+palm sugar combo with chunky peanut butter.
. Speaking of texture, I like my peanut sauce to have chunky bits in them, so I use my mortar+pestle instead of the food processor to get varying degrees of fineness in my ground peanuts. Finely ground peanuts also acts as a thickener to the sauce.
. Since I was cooking for kids, I removed the seeds from my dried chillies, and didnt use as much as other people would. You could adjust the spiciness to your liking.
. I have never tried substituting the dried chillies with chilli/chipotle powder, but I guess you could if you wanted to. (Tell me if this works :) )
. I like my peanut sauce to be slightly runny, so I use a lot of coconut milk. You can use less or thicker coconut milk to make a thick sauce with more body, or use more finely ground peanuts.
. You wont believe what a stalk of lemongrass can do to your peanut sauce! Another good addition is one or two pieces of kaffir lime leaves - the fragrance will bowl you over.
. I really like biting into crunchy bits of crispy fried shallots or garlic in my peanut sauce especially if I'm eating it with satay (Malaysian grilled skewered meat), but if you're not sure, put it on the side and decide later.

Happy Trying, and tell me how yours turn out!

Finn Finish First in Formula One

Before I post the peanut sauce recipe, I would like to express my jubilations for what hapenned in Brazil yesterday.

I had actually lost hope towards the end of the season. I thought "Maybe next year". But then China happened.. and I actually thought it was going to be Alonso again. But then yesterday.. dayummmm. What a race what a race!!
Even though it was expected that Massa would give way to Kimi, I still had heart palpitations and whooped in pleasure when Kimi passed him coming out of the final pit stop.
Yay for Kimi!!!

tee hee!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Raya Sakan (Maximum Celebration)

To say that I had raya sakan (celebrated to the max) would've been an understatement.
Let me give you the rundown:

Friday, Eid day 1
Outfit : Faux songket black kebaya.
Taufik woke Ilham and Ihsan up at 5 and they went for Eid prayers. Made Rendang Tok Cikgu Munah, Peanut Sauce, and boiled Nasi Impit Nona. Had an intimate family breakfast, then salam-salam and took photographs. Made Creme jelly with fruit cocktail (used the panna cotta recipe, just added canned mixed fruits). Lepak (lazed around) while the boys went for Friday prayers. Went to Tok Penghulu's house for lunch, ate lamb briyani and nasi impit with kuah kacang. Lepak some more watching Buletin Utama on SyokTv. Then we left for the raya melayu gathering in Khaloud (that's what the milk+fruit jelly was for). Ate too much.

Saturday, Eid day 2
Outfit : beaded black abaya
Made Agar-agar Sirap (Red rose flavoured jelly) and rice krispy treats. Went to Kak Zie's house in Ar@mco, Dh@hran. Ate really good mee rebus, laksa johor, nasi minyak, and a myriad of cookies. Went to Kak F's and ABC's house and ate some more.

Sunday, Eid day 3
Outfit : Lacy white Indonesian kebaya with orange-brown batik sarong with matching long scarf.
Made more rendang cikgu munah, and fried some keropok (fish crackers). Went for lunch at Kak F Malik's house. Had chicken briyani, more nasi impit and kuah kacang, and a yummy bingka telur. Came home to fry some noodles coz had guests coming over. Taught Ilham how to make a simple dessert with cupcakes, hazelnut-chocolate pudding and whipped cream. Went to Kak Zara's house for dinner. Had chicken briyani again, Ilham's dessert and more raya cookies.

Monday, Eid day 4
Outfit : White Next top with blue-white batik sarong with matching long scarf.
Ilham made his dessert again. Went to Sukh's house in Ras T@nura for lunch, bearing the dessert Ilham made. Then came back to Dh@hran, to one house for chicken rice, to another house for more chicken rice and finally ended up the evening at another house for laksa trengganu (YUMS!) and bihun sup.

Tuesday, Eid day 5
Outfit : spagetti straps and jeans under black abaya.
The men had to go to work, so finally, a respite from stuffing my face with food. Brought the kids to Dh@hran Mall, sent my abaya for alteration and had lunch at Pizza Factory. The kids had pizza and I was glad to sink my teeth into a simple salad. (Bought a new pair of sunglasses to replace the one Izani broke and a new outfit. yippee!). Made a simple dinner of white rice and chicken in soy sauce.

Wednesday, Eid day 6
Outift : dark blue Xanaka shirt on black flared jean skirt with emboridery accents.
Went to Dh@hran Mall again to pick up my abaya. Shopped for groceries abit coz we were going to have guests on thursday. Bought KFC for lunch. Fried prawn fritters for tea, and then went for Dinner at Tok Penghulu's open house. Ate nasi minyak and cake. Talked and ate too much.

Thursday, Eid day 7
Outfit : Brown/black top with black pants.
Made bergedil, sup soto almost-madura-style, and chocolate panna cotta (sinful!). Entertained guests for lunch. Cleaned up the house, then felt like eating chocolate cake, so I baked one to bring to another open house invitation. Went to Izan Napi's open house for dinner. Had Roti Jala, Bihun Sup, Pai tee and the chocolate cake I made, which didnt turn out so bad. Izan's raya cookies were also very yummeh. Watched a stupid-funny melayu scary movie.

Friday, Eid Day 8
Outfit : Dark blue Xanaka shirt with blue-white batik sarong with matching long scarf.
Had lunch at Moghul. Made some macaroni with cream sauce to bring to Ras T@nura for Su-Harun's open house. Ate laksa penang, Nasi Minyak Trengganu and 3 different versions of banana cake. Went to Kak Izah's open house, she managed to make bihun sup even though she said she had a fever. Admired pretty things. Went home early to sleep coz the next day school resumes.

Saturday, Eid day 9, First day of school after eid holiday.
Outfit : jammies for the first half of the day, t-shirt and jeans for the rest. :)
Glad that the week was over. I have gained god knows how many kilos from the constant eating. Resolved to go for a walk in the afternoons, but didnt manage to do it. Internet was down, so could not blog.

This weekend I have 2 more invitations, and I plan to invite some people over for a light lunch. Don't know what to cook yet. Taufik is asking for more Rendang Tok Cikgu Munah and Soto Madura.

How was your eid?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eid peek

pictures from first day:

The 'spread' on my table on eid morning.

Not really a 'spread'.. just 4 dishes. Clock wise from left - Sambal daging (beef floss), bought by the kilo from a friend when I was in Malaysia recently. Kuah kacang (Peanut sauce) , I'll post the recipe one of these days, ben. Nasi impit (rice cakes), from Nona, pre-packed in plastic and just boiled for an hour. Rendang Tok Cikgu Munah (Chicken in spicy thick coconut gravy), an obligatory dish. "Cikgu Munah" is my mom-in-law.

The Taufik family in one of the better lighted corners in our living room. (L-R: Anis, Ilham, Izani, Taufik, Elisa, Ihsan)

We had to prop the camera on one of the sofas to take this picture.

Can't blog long. Have to cook for another gathering. I promised the host I'd bring something for dessert.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tomorrow is Eid!!


*runs arounds like a chicken without a head*

I was like lepak-ing (lazing around) in front of the TV, confident aje that tomorrow is still going to be Ramadhan, when Taufik got an sms whishing him Eid Mubarak.
So we changed to the channel that airs live footage of prayers in Makkah.
Lo and behold, we hear the words "eid" and "jumaah" and "mubarak" and a few minutes later, the takbir, salutations welcoming the first of syawal.

My kids went "yay!! tomorrow's Raya!!"
and I automatically made a list in my head:
- have to cut chicken
- have to make rendang Tok cikgu munah
- have to boil ketupat
- have to buy peanuts
- have to make peanut sauce
- have to check if kids' clothes fit and needs mending
- have to iron clothes
- have. to. PANICCCCCC!!!!!

(obviously, 'have to blog' came first.. heh heh)

so okay. i dont know whether I'll have time to blog in the next few days since I'll be busy making the obligatory visits to friends houses and stuffing my face with food and food and more food. (heh heh I typed it the other way round at first)

Have fun while I'm away.
Eid Mubarak!!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

eid mubarak

Mintak maaf segala yang tersilap tulis, tersilap comment, ter-over menyakat, ter-guris perasaan, ter-gelak, ter-baling biri-biri, ter-cucuk, ter-conteng dinding, ter-hantar kek atau roti, ter-derma ikan, ter-kacau on YM semasa sedang sibuk, dan segala yang ter ter dan yang sengaja sengaja..

Kalau makan best-best tu, jangan lah lupa pada saya yang besar kemungkinan akan makan best-best jugak.. tee hee!

Drive Safely during the holidays! :D

Easy Peasy Almond Cookies

As usual, background story first:
I saw pictures of delectable almond cookies on Hart's blog and asked for the recipe. She sent me a scanned page off of Chef Wan's book, where there were a few recipes for different almond cookies. I chose the easiest one (Almond Rings) and decided to try it out. I only did one slight modification to the amount of sugar used. Oh and I changed how the cookies were formed.
(Hart takes beautiful pictures, by the way, and we've been friends since the recipe exchange :) )

Easy Peasy Almond Cookies

3/4 cup (150g) butter @room temperature
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup powdered or fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg white, slightly beaten, for dipping
crushed almonds for decoration

Cream butter, sugar, egg yolk and almond essence.
Add flour, ground almonds and salt, mix well.
Form dough into a ball, wrap in saran wrap (plastic sheet) and chill for 1 hour.
Take spoonfulls of dough and form into quarter (20sen) sized thick discs, dip in egg whites and roll in crushed almonds.
Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 175deg C or 375degF until golden.
Makes about 5 dozen.

The original recipe required 1/4 cup of sugar, but I had accidently poured more and was too lazy to take out the excess and put it back into the sugar container so i just used the 1/3 cup I had accidently measured out. The original instructions also told me to form the dough into rings, but somehow my dough was a bit crumbly do I decided to form them into flat balls/thick discs instead.
I did not wait till my cookies turned golden brown coz the bottom of my cookies were starting to burn (perhaps because I used the black non-stick baking tray?). The moment my kitchen smelled like popcorn (roughly 12 minutes), I took the cookies out of the oven.

Easy Peasy Yummeh Cruncheh Almond Cookies

The result was a very mildly sweet and buttery cookie that was crunchy and melts in your mouth. It was almost like kuih bangkit but butter-flavoured. Or biskut arab but crunchy and light.
I like!!
I am actually considering making another batch :)

This is also a good recipe to try out with your kids. It is simple enough, except for the forming bit (coz the dough was crumbly). Ilham and Ihsan helped me dip the cookies in egg whites and almonds and alerted me when they started 'smelling popcorn'.

Happy Trying and Eid Mubarak!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Power to the People!

In my family of outspoken and clearly opinionated members of society, I have always been known as the 'apathetic one'. Or maybe the 'apolitical one'. Which one, I forgot.
What I mean is that I was always the one who would not state any affiliation to any political party or persons, while one of my sisters would actually be a committee in one.

But I have taken enough political science courses (err... one course) and watched enough movies to know that what happens in court does not only affect the people who go to court but everyone in the whole country. Rulings passed in one case can be referenced to and be used as a guidance for rulings in future cases. Rulings can sometimes even change laws, change lives. (Have you watched Cold Mountain?).
What goes on in court is no small matter. Judges have a very important job that shape the future of the country. So they need to be compassionate, honest, responsible, impartial and most of all, they need to have integrity.
Unfortunately, it seems that our judges have been anything but the above. Or at least we suspect them to be. Whether they are or they are not, someone needs to find the truth, and if it needs fixing , someone needs to fix it, and restore our confidence in the judiciary system.

So that is why I am now asking you to support this petition for a Royal Commision to inquire on the state of our judicial system. (If you get a headache reading the bombastic Malay version, read the English version).
We have got till Raya to sign the petition. To sign up in support of this petition, please send your name and i.c. number to :

Come on.
It's almost like, if you hear that your children's school teacher is a paedophile, wouldn't you do something to confirm it? Wouldnt you ask the head master to find out the truth? Wouldnt you expect him to do something? Before anything bad happens to your children? It's the same thing.
So go read the petition, and send your name and i.c. as a sign of support!
For our children, for our country.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

what is "iftar buffet"?

In the previous post, [URL=""]Deej[/URL] asked me to explain what is "iftar buffet".

Well, DJ, the only other thing close to an "iftar buffet" in the US would be the lunch buffets they have in Las Vegas hotels.
"Iftar" is the arabic word for the breaking of fast. During the month of Ramadhan on the Islamic calendar, muslims are obliged to fast (Arabic - "Sawm") from dawn to dusk. We are encouraged to eat right before dawn (called "Sahur"), abstain from eating or drinking for the rest of the day, and is encouraged to eat the very moment the sun sets at dusk.
By right, we are encouraged to be moderate, to break our fast with some dates and water and a light (or normal) meal, because it is really an exercise to 'cleanse' our spiritual and physical self , but.. humans that we are, we are often tempted to be a little bit of a glutton, I'm afraid.
So during the month of Ramadhan, most hotels or food establishments would offer Iftar Buffets, a special buffet spread set only for the month of Ramadhan, open from about half an hour before dusk and closed till whenever you feel you've stuffed yourself enough. In S@udi, some stablishments (especially hotels) even offer Sahur Buffets, that start at 1am and lasts till dawn (when you're supposed to start fasting). Some hotels even go as far as offering a special Ramadahan package that includes iftar and sahur buffet, and a room to stay in for the night.
As I described in the previous posts, each establishment would try to make their buffet special, either by offering more food, or special types of food.
If you google for "Ramadhan Buffet" you'd prolly get an idea of what is offered. :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

iftar buffet

Last Friday, for the first time since I've spent Ramadhan here, we went for an iftar buffet at a hotel in Kh0bar.

When we were living in Malaysia, we go to an iftar buffet at least once during the month of ramadhan, either because Sm1th sponsors one, or we are invited by one of the other service companies. It is almost always fun, with a myriad of choices of food for breaking our fasts, main dishes for dinner and desserts to cleanse our palates with. The larger buffets would have all sorts of traditional malay fare from all sorts of noodles cooked in all sorts of ways and all sorts of rice cooked in all sorts of ways and all sorts of meats cooked in all sorts of ways.

The one we had on Friday was at Le Gulf Mer1dian, which is one of the more expensive hotels in Kh0bar. The price per person was much much more expensive than in KL. I think if I paid the same amount of money in KL, I would be dining in Carc0sa, or Ist4na. The banquet room was really nice. Each table had one of those arabesque lamps, a jug of zam-zam water, a pot of mint tea, a plate of dates, a plate of dried apricots, and decorated with a vase filled with white orchids.(sorry, they didnt allow taking pictures) Each party was given their own table, even if you're just a party of one (they give you a small table of course), I guess because the ar@bs really like their privacy. Fortunately though, there were no enclosed booths :).

I was a little dissapointed by the buffet spread though. The appetizer section had several types of hummous, tahinis and dips, salads, tabouleh , fried eggplants, smoked salmon, poached salmon and shrimp cocktail, but .. meh.. maybe I was haunted by the food in Malaysian buffets, so I wasnt really impressed (but I still ate a lot of smoked salmon! muahahaha) I kept yearning for mee rebus or something. The dinner buffet spread had Laham Mandi (lamb cooked in rice), which was yummy, several choices of grilled meat dishes and the obligatory breads and samosas.

What redeemed this buffet offering was the dessert selection. Oh. My. God. You would have gained 5 kilos just by looking at it. Lots of decadent cheesecakes, syrup laden pastries, cream smothered khunafa porridge thingy, cream filled puffs, and puddings in chocolate, custard or fruity flavours. The piece de resistance were 2 fondue fountains, one with white and the other with dark, chocolate. I had skewers of peaches and strawberries and marshmallows drenched in chocolate. The kids had a field day with the bask1n-robbins ice cream.

Towards the end of the iftar, they had a lucky draw with gifts sponsored by businesses around kh0bar. That is quite different from what we usually have in M@laysia, and it was kinda fun. The kids were dissapointed that we didnt win anything though :)

All in all, I thought the buffet was okay. Nothing much compared to those offered in Malaysia though ... tee hee


Sakit hati tengok:

1. Satu family bukan agama kita ni, datang iftar buffet, tapi belum waktu berbuka lagi, diorang dah ambik makanan dan makan! Bukan nya kita terliur pun, tapi sungguh tak menghormati tetamu lain. At least tunggu lah azan sekejap sebelum makan. Even my kids yang tak puasa pun tunggu sampai bunyi azan sebelum diorang jamah makanan diorang depan tetamu lain yang berpuasa. Taufik cakap "Patutlah orang marah sangat sampai nak tembak..."

2. Orang yang ambik makanan bertimbun-timbun dalam pinggan macam tak makan sebulan, lepas tu tak habiskan, pastu pegi ambik makanan lain pulak! Pastu waiters pun kenalah ambik pinggan diorang and makanan tu, terbuang ajelah nampaknya... Sungguh membazir! (Tapi my kids pun gitu sebenarnya, and guess who yang selalu end up habiskan makanan diorang?? Mak jugerrrkkkkkk.... how to kurus liddat?)

3. Budak-budak yang ambik cawan and tadah chocolate at the fondue fountain. I jealous sebenarnya.. nak buat jugak, tapi malu.. heh heh.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ihsan and Taufik

I wanted to post this earlier, but Ihsan wanted Nasi Lemak for his birthday dinner, so I spent most of the morning splitting ikan bilis (please remind me to buy ready-split ikan bilis next time), which took longer than usual because I had to entertain Izani in-between. In the afternoon I had to make Panna Cotta (again) and then prepare for iftar.


If there's one thing these two men in my life have, it's their common passion for gardening/farming. When we were at our orchard in Alor Setar, Kedah the last time we went back to Malaysia, Taufik didnt run out of things to do for even a minute. Ihsan would follow close behind him to ask "What can I do?", and Taufik would oblige him.

Below is a picture of them cutting down old banana trees and trimming the leaves off the ones that still have not bear fruit. I was shocked at first, that Taufik would let Ihsan handle a handsaw, but I watched Ihsan use it and was assured of his ability to handle one with strength and safety. He even had that little cowboy hat to protect his head from the sun! :) He is truly growing up so fast.

hard at work, but enjoying themselves

Taufik .. *sigh*, what else can I gush about him? He's filling out a bit (maybe due to my constant cooking? ;) ) but I still think he looks hot. I think he has reached most of the goals he had set for himself when he was younger. I am really proud of him, and he may have a few chinks here and there, but I think I've known and loved him long enough to see them as charming rather than annoying.


Happy 36th Birthday, Taufik, and Happy 8th Birthday, Ihsan!