Sunday, December 28, 2008

always be my baby

When your husband tells you "You will always be my baby", it doesn't matter that he's not crooning or strumming a guitar, you still melt.

cair babe...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hajj Tips

I better write this before I forget.

Unlike Hajj packages from Malaysia that usually covers 45 days of travel to and stay in Makkah, Arafah, Muzdalifah, Mina and Madinah, the Hajj package from Al-Hamra (the name of the company) that we took covered only 9 days of travel and stay in Makkah, Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina. Basically our package were specifically for Hajj, and does not include extra ibadah.
Our itinerary:
We left Dammam in our ihrams on Thursday 4th December (6th Dzulhijjah), completed our Umrah by Friday morning (5th December, 7th Dzulhijjah). We took off our ihrams (we did Haji Tammatu') and rested for a day in a school-turned-into-hostel in Awali (in between Makkah and Mina) before putting on our ihrams for the Hajj proper on the 6th December (8th DzulHijjah), and prepare for a very long day ahead of us.
We left our hostel for Arafah before fajr on 7th December (9th DzulHijjah) and left it by maghrib (sundown). We were tested by heavy traffic and only arrived Muzdalifah after midnight, so we just drove through and arrived in Makkah at about 4am on 8th December (10th DzulHijjah), did our Tawaf Ifadah, solat fajr, did our saei, solat Eid ul-Adha, then Taufik shaved his head. We then returned to our hostel to pack for Mina.
We left for Mina after Asr, and did the stoning of the big pillar (Jamratul Aqobah). We stayed in Mina on the 9th, 10th of December (11th, 12th DzulHijjah) to stone the 3 pillars, and left after Dzuhr on the 11th December (13th Dzulhijjah) after stoning the 3 pillars for the last time. Went back to the hostel to pack our bags so that they could be sent ahead of us to the airport. We left our hostel and headed for Makkah for our Tawaf Wida' (farewell tawaf) in the middle of the night, then headed for the airport right after. We arrived home on the 12th December (14th DzulHijjah).

I imagine that the itinerary for pilgrims from Malaysia will be quite similar during the 5-6 days of Hajj. You will be travelling between Makkah, Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina, and your schedule will be quite packed on the 9th and 10th Dzulhijjah, with respite only on the 11th, 12th and 13th days of DzulHijjah.

Here are some tips I would like to share with regards to those 5-6 days:

1. Drink lots and lots of water.
I know you'll be afraid that it will make you want to go to the toilet often and you're afraid if the toilet facilities will be bad, but drink away! Your body will lose water in other ways (sweating, and from reciting the Qur'an and dzikr), so dont worry about overloading your bladder. If you do have to go to the toilet, pray to Allah so that it will be easy.

2. Carry Pocket/Purse sized Tissues, WetWipes, Vaseline, Spray Bottle, your favourite cough drops and Snickers, all in a small sling bag.
These are essential and will make your journey more comfortable. The tissues&wetwipes are really good for quick clean-ups and freshening up. The Vaseline can be used to maintain moisture on any part of the body (especially your lips! Lots of reciting/supplicating will make your lips dry). If you cant find a travel size vaseline, a non-perfumed chapstick will do. I carry a spray bottle of clean water (fill it up with zam-zam if you like) so that i can make wudhu' anytime, anywhere. Suck on a cough drop the moment your throat start to feel scratchy. Eat a snicker to stave off the hunger pangs.
I carry this sling bag everywhere I go. Also in this sling bag were my handphone, some money, a credit card, my insurance card, a copy of our iqama , a copy of our hajj registration, a pair of socks, and a small book of supplications.

3. Have a backpack that can fit 3 days' clothes.
I used this backpack for our trip to Arafah-Muzdalifah-Makkah and our 3-day stay in Mina. It is easy to carry, especially if it just so happens that you have to get off the bus and walk to your destination.

4. Layer your clothes.
The weather can be quite erratic, so if you're not sure if it's going to be cold, make sure you bring layers of clothes instead of thick items. Bring one thick jacket/cardigan/shawl if you have to, and underneath them use layers. I wore my abaya everytime I went out, so on cold days/times I wore thermals underneath them, on warm days I wore a thin t-shirt. On the last day, when we stoned the 3 jamrats right after Dzuhr, I wore my abaya like a dress. Bring socks, wear 2 pairs if it gets cold. (Note: Pullover abayas/jubahs are recommended as opposed to button-front ones.)

5. Tawaf/Saei with gripped socks.
You know them socks with rubber dots on the soles? Just like the ones for babies but these are for adults? They are really good for tawaf and saei. Masjidil Haram's marble floors can be quite cold and normal socks are slippery so these socks give you some grip and the extra friction makes it less tiring.

6. If you can, have your MP3 player filled with Qur'an translation.
I really should've bought an iPod lah. I only had a few selected surahs on my phone. I found it really helpful, especially when it's not conducive to read (i.e. in the bus, at night, noisy surroundings, you've lost your wudhu'). The translation helps you understand the meaning of the surahs. I got my surahs with English Translation from

7. Write your supplications (dua) in a small notebook (buku tigalima).
I wrote all my supplications in a small flip-over notebook so that I don't forget, but I found flipping over a little cumbersome. I think a regular notebook (that flips left/right) would be much much easier to hold and flip as you move along.

8. Take your medicines.
You don't know what's gonna happen, so no matter how confident you are about your health or biological cycles, take your medicine! You do not want to fall sick during these 5 days.

9. Do lots of dzikr and supplications.
Take this time to really remember the Almighty and all that He has given you and reflect upon yourself. 'Istiqamah' bak kata lollies.. :)
Rasa macam rugilah pulak bila dah susah-susah pegi buat haji, tapi membazir masa buat benda lain... :P (Especially for me lah, since I feel like this is my last chance to buat haji).

I'm sure there are more tips.. feel free to share. Hopefully I can go again and make full use of the tips here :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hajj Moon

Which one is the moon?

This was taken on the rooftop of Masjidil Haram, Makkah, early morning (1:30am) of 14th DzulHijjah, after we completed our Tawaf Wida' (farewell tawaf).
My husband's bald head has grown a stubble by then (he shaved it on eid morning, 10th Dzulhijjah), but I think it was still shining as bright and is shaped as round as the moon. ha ha.
We didnt lug our SLR during this trip, so, excuse the picture quality.

Hajj Lessons

Alhamdulillah, I am back home safely.

If you don't mind, I won't be writing much on my experience. Not because I dont want to share, but because I am afraid if I write too much, I would be prone to riak (boasting?) or might induce other people to make fitnah from misconception.

But I do would like to share this:
Performing the Hajj is truly like going to battle. You leave your family behind, you take along only the essentials and you make do with whatever we have.
But the battle is not only physical, it was also emotional, psychological and spiritual.
I believe that Allah gives you lessons to learn everyday, irregardless of whether you are on Hajj or not, but somehow during that period, perhaps due to the situation, lessons seems to be more intense and you are somewhat forced to learn it.

I learned a very shocking thing about myself during this hajj.
I learned that even though I consider myself to be a very open minded, understanding and polite person, deep down inside I am actually very presumptuous and judgemental.
My mom's main advice to me was to watch what I say and to try to keep my mouth shut and refrain from giving my opinion whenever I feel the need to (for she surely knows her daughter well). I did not heed my mother's advice. I admonished someone close to me for being judgemental, only to realize that I myself was being judgemental of her. I hurt her feelings and was wrecked with guilt until I approached her for forgiveness. Truly we are meant to be friends, because she forgave me, masya-Allah.

I realize that each and everyone who went for the hajj has their own private battles and private lessons to learn. You really need to learn the lesson on your own, no one is going to take you aside and point out to you what you need to learn. Being confined in terms of space and schedule really force you to really look into yourself and discover and think about who you really are and what you want to become.
They tell you to do alot of dzikr and reading the Qur'an and think about Allah, and even though you do it for Allah, I discovered that all those actually benefited me more than I can explain. It kept me away from doing wrong things, it reminded me of what was important in life, and masya-Allah, I even found a verse that provided a solution to a dillema that I have been struggling with for most of my life. Truly, Allah is great.
Even when I thought a situation is bad, friends all around remind me that Allah is All-knowing and he's trying to teach me a lesson, I think about Allah and try to find the lesson in the bad situation, and Alhamdulillah, I got through it.
I never understood it when people come back from Hajj say they had a 'beautiful experience', but now I do. Masya-Allah.

Insya-Allah, I have prayed for all of you to have peace, happiness and good health.
May Allah grant my prayers and accept my hajj. Amin.

p/s I'd do another post on tips for Hajj (i.e. what to bring, what to do). But maybe in a few days, okay, coz I still need to do laundry then pick up my kids (Gosh, I missed them so much!!)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Preparing Myself - Ready to go

Alhamdulillah, I think I have everything I need.
I leave everything else to Allah.

Please pray for the safety of my children.
Please pray for Hajj that is mabrur (accepted by Allah) and a safe return, for my husband and I.

my number is on my FB account if you have last minute requests for me to make du'a for you.
Insya-Allah, I will pray for all my family and friends, happiness, health and baraqah, and if you are a muslim (or will be become one in the future), I will also pray that you will get the opportunity to perform your own Hajj & Umrah.

p/s thankyou for all the well wishes and advice you have given me via this blog, FB, email and sms.. forgive me if I have not had time to reply to you.

Preparing Myself - Leaving the kids

I've been preparing the kids about being away for us for 10 days since the day we decided to go for Hajj (about 2,3 months ago). I consulted them on who they would like to stay with. I told them why I needed to go and why I couldn't bring them along like when we were going to Umrah. I briefed them on what was the acceptable and expected behaviour at someone else's house (make the bed, clean up messes, help wash dishes, take care of your own laundry). I told them to pray for my safety after they solat. I also told them that their dad is going to come back home with a surprise (bald head). They keep urging to me to tell them what it will be, but Taufik and I said it wouldnt be a suprise if I told them.

Izani had been watching me pack these last few weeks and he's been asking me
"Yee goin?" (Where are you going?) and I've been telling him I was going to Makkah and when he says "I wan go makah" (I want to go to Makkah) I would tell him "You will stay with Auntie Ana, and I'd tell him he'd get to eat currypuffs and watch TV and watch Ben10 and Dinosaurs and he was happy with the response.

So yesterday we sent the kids to Kak Ana and Ahmad Shah's house. We spent about 3 hours there, assuring ample time for the kids to know the family and their kids, telling them how to prepare Izani's milk, what my kids like/dont like to eat and such. Kak Ana and Ahmad Shah have been helping to take care of people's kids many times before, so I was assured that my kids will be safe.

When it was time to say goodbye, Anis and Ilham came and hugged me tight. Ihsan, however, was bawling his eyes out. He was asking why he could go with me, he promised he'd be good and would hold tightly to my hand so that he wouldnt get lost. I tried to explain to him why I thought it would be dangerous for him to come along, but yet I was also reluctant to tell him of all the dangers coz I was worried if he would think that his parents would be in danger. SO I tried to appease him by telling Ilham to let Ihsan play with the computer. Ihsan finally calmed down after Taufik gave him 10riyals for pocket money. hee hee.

Izani ...
was totally hunky dory! He kissed me, hugged me and said "I laf yew bodha" (I love you Bonda) and went back to eat his carrot. When I was waving the kids goodbye as we drove away, Izani was all smiles and waving at me "bye bye, bye bye!".

I didn't cry.

Until it was time for bed, and I was checking my alarm on my phone and saw izani's face on the screen saver.
I lay in bed looking at the empty spot in between Taufik and I where Izani usually sleeps, and I could almost feel him hugging me and his tiny peck on my lips as he would say "goo nite bodha, i laf yew bodha". I could smell his lotion and powder on my pillow.
I lost it then.
I asked Taufik whether he thought the kids would be asleep then. We had been re-packing our bags so it was almost 11:30pm, so Taufik said it'd be too late to call.

I called them at 9am this morning.
Izani was still asleep, only Ilham wanted to talk to us. Ihsan and Anis was at the computer and couldnt care less.

One less worry on my mind.
Now, concentrate on hajj!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Preparing Myself - 4 days to go.

So ..
logistic wise, everything is confirmed.
We're leaving on 4th Dec (Thursday, 6th Dzul-Hijjah), coming back on the 12th (14th Dzul-Hijjah).
We'll be performing Umrah (Tawaf Qudum & Saei) at Masjidil Haram the night we arrive, then only go to our hostel. We'll be staying in Awali, a suburb of Makkah, for the 2days.
On the 7th (9th DzulHijjah), we'll move after fajr to Arafah and spend most of the day there. After maghrib we'll make a move to Muzdalifah.
After midnight on the 8th (10th DzulHijjah), we'll leave Muzdalifah and head for masjidil Haram and perform our Tawaf ifadhah and saei and tahallul and be free of our ihrams. (Taufik is going to shave his head! eeeps!!)
In the afternoon we'll leave for Mina to stone Jamratul Aqobah, then rest for the night at the camp.
We'll spend the 9th (11th DzulHijjah) in Mina, hopefully using up the battery on my handphone reading Qur'an and reciting dzikir, insya-Allah, then stone the 3 jamrats after Isya'.
On the 10th (12th Dzulhijjah), after fajr, we'll return to Awali, or maybe not, depending on the camp conditions in Mina (if it's comfortable, we may just stay). If we do go back to Awali, we will travel to Mina at night to stone the 3 Jamrats for the 2nd time, and spend the last night there.
On the 11th (13th DzulHijjah), we will stone the 3 jamrats after dzuhr, for the last time, then head for Makkah for Tawaf Wida'. That night we will head for Taif Airport.
Our flight will leave Taif at 7:30am and arrive Dammam around 11:00am, Insya-Allah.

I have packed my bags. I've bought socks and other essentials. I have sewn a few slip on tudungs. All I still need is a cardigan, and a small bag for the nights in Mina.
I have written all the du'a-s everyone have asked to make for them. I have yet to write down my own (and list everyone who have passed that I want to pray be placed in jannah).
I have downloaded dzikrs and some surahs with translation into my phone for me to listen to while on the bus or if I feel like sewing instead of reading.

I still have not finished writing down my will. I am procrastinating for some reason.

My kids will be staying with a family friend. They have 4 children of their own, 3 of which are older girls. The wife is a good cook and she loves to cook, so I am assured that my kids wont go hungry. Incidently they will also be taking care of 4 other children from a friend of ours who are coming with us, so they will have 12 children in their house! Allah bless their souls for being so kind and helpful in our time of need!
I havent packed their bags, will do that on Wednesday. I have written a note to their teachers to excuse them on Wednesday (It's the last day of school anyways).
Still need to buy cereal and snacks for the kids.
I have bought activity books for them to use so that they dont get bored.
I have trained Ilham to basuh bontot izani.

I have been dilligent in my solat and making sure I do it on time.
I have performed Solat Tawbah.
I have sent an email to a friend whom I felt I have wronged. She forgave me.
I have called my mom and family to ask for forgiveness. I will call my dad on Thursday before I leave. He always knows how to assure me.
I have stopped reading piahzadora and pray I will not go there again.

hm.. so why do I still feel like I am not ready?
It's normal to feel nervous, yes?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

fishing for ideas

Hypothetically speaking lah kan,
if I am compiling my easy peasy recipes into a book,
what (which or what kind of recipes) would you like to see in it
and into what categories should I divide them into?
Would you like pictures?

please take a moment to vote on my poll ------------------------>
If you think my recipes suck, please do leave a comment on why it does and how it can be improved.
Dont be a d*ck when people are trying to be productive.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Easy Peasy No Bake Chilled Cheesecake

I made this for Neeza's birthday, and was planning to go to Jubayl to give it to her, but unfortunately Taufik had to work, so we had to cancel the trip :P (Sorry Neeza! Next time, eh?)

Caught Nigella making this on TV but I didnt have time to write down the recipe so I just winged it. Turned out not so bad, except for the topping which was too sweet. Next time I'd use fresh fruits or maybe just drizzle chocolate over it.
The texture of this cheesecake was really light and smooth and not so rich. You probably have to serve it chilled though, because it doesnt use any gelatine.

Easy Peasy No-Bake Chilled Cheesecake

10-12 Marie biscuits (Nigella used digestives)
2 tbsp soften butter/margerine
2 tbsp ground almonds, with 1/2 tbsp extra
300g pack of philly cream cheese @room temp
1/2 cup icing sugar (more if you like your cheesecake sweet)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp lemon juice (more if you like your cheesecake tart)
1 cup whipping cream (I used vegetable whip topping)
Fruit topping (I used 3tbsp mixed fruit jam which is waaaay too sweet for me)

Brush sides of a round 8" springform pan with butter, then sprinkle some ground almonds, shake to distribute evenly and remove excess.
In a food processor, ground biscuits then mix with 2tbsp butter and 2tbsp ground almonds, to form crumblike dough. Press biscuit mixture on the bottom of springform pan. Leave to chill in the fridge while you prepare filling.
In a bowl, mix well cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla essence and lemon juice. In another bowl, whip cream till soft peaks form (not stiff).
Fold cream into cheese mixture till well incorporated.
Pour filling into spring form pan.
Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
To serve, run a knife on the sides of spring form pan before releasing the cheesecake.
Top with your favourite fruit (I carefully spreaded a thin layer of jam)

I find the layer of ground almonds on the sides help ease the release of the cake.
I also made my own cake board (the size of my spring form pan) so that i dont have to serve my cake in the bottom of my spring form pan. That also helped in making it easier to remove the cake.
I dont know how long this cake can last outside of the fridge. So far mine have been out for 2 hours and it's still standing.

Happy trying and tell me how yours turn out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bus Rants

I just need to vent this out.

My kids go to school with the bus service provided by the compound. We mothers of the children that go to school on that bus take turns to become the bus monitors. Bus Monitors have to make sure that children are following the rules to ensure their safety, i.e. take attendance (to make sure no child is left behind), put their seat belts on, no eating/drinking in the bus (though I do allow them to drink water during the hot summer months), no shouting, verbal/physical abuse or bad language on the bus.

Today I get a call from the bus coordinator (she's like the 'head' of the bus monitors lah), telling me that the management asked her to remind us of the bus rules and remind us to enforce the bus rules. I agree with all the bus rules accept for one - in the past few months my children have been complaining that they are not even allowed to TALK in the bus.
My children get stressed out every time they have to go to school (especially if they see that the bus monitor on duty is going to be one of these two particular moms) because they know it's gonna be 2 long boring, rigid bus ride to/from school.
I mean, these are children, and you expect them not to talk? come on.
I argued this point with the bus coordinator, and she says it's distracting the bus driver, and she pointed out that I seem to be the only one who's complaining about this rule. She said the kids need to only keep quiet for 20 to 30 minutes, that's all. Knowing my kids (and myself), keeping quiet for even 5 minutes is torture! Especially when you've just come back from school, and looking forward to chucking your books and playing outside. Especially when you're sitting next to your friend.

Am I really the only one who thinks this rule is too much?
Or am I being unreasonable about it?

How can I implement this rule when I don't believe in it?
If I flout it, I would be setting a bad anti-establishment example to my kids. But if I enforce it, I'd be going against my own principles.

Perhaps I need to find a way around it.
Teach the kids (not just mine, mind you, the whole bus!) how to have fun, without talking (too loud). Whispering game? hm.. maybe that would actually work.
*light bulb*

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Easy Peasy Poutine

Declare your diets over, girlfriends. This is absolutely, sinfully yummy, and so easy to make, you and your kids would want it

The first time I heard of poutine was on PB's blog.
Being a person who's easily tergoda (tempted) by anything remotely edible (especially if it's cheesy), I googled for the recipe. Turns out they are pretty easy to make. You only need fries, cheese curds and some kinda gravy. I can do the fries part. I can even wing the some kinda gravy part. The cheese curd part was a little tricky, but via the wonders of the book of face, i got a tip from an authentic Canadian that I could subtitute it with mozarella cheese (Thanx, Ben!).

My first attempt at poutine turned into chilli cheese fries instead.
A few nights a go, entah apa dia mimpi malam tu, Taufik asked me to make steak for dinner. To go with the steak, I made mashed potatoes, and to go with the taters, I made some mushroom gravy. I had some leftover mushroom gravy and the first thing that popped in my head was "Poutine!".

Here's the recipe for the mushroom gravy (you can omit the mushroom if you're not a fan, then you'd end up with just gravy).

Easy Peasy Mushroom Gravy

1 tbsp cooking oil or butter
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
a handful of mushrooms roughly chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
1 cup stock (Chicken, beef, vegetable, whatever you like)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil/butter and saute garlic, onions and mushrooms in a saucepan till wilted.
Add in flour, saute till flour is brown.
Pour in stock and bring to a boil while stirring.
Add salt and pepper to taste , let simmer to desired thickness.

I kept the leftover gravy in an airtight contaner in the fridge.
Of course you could always modify the recipe to suit your taste. Omit mushrooms, add other spices (curry powder?), add a little dark soy sauce for coloring, or a little sugar for sweetness. To each, his own.

Easy Peasy Poutine

Frozen fries
Mozarella cheese (cut into small pieces or shredded)
Prepared gravy

Prepare fries per instructions on package.
Heat up gravy.
Place hot fries in a serving bowl/plate.
Sprinkle as much cheese as you like.
Pour hot gravy on top.
Let sit for a few minutes for cheese to melt a bit and fries to soak up gravy.
Dig in!

I used shredded mozarella because I think they are easier to 'spread around' on the fries. I cant even begin to describe how the creamy and salty flavours meld together, or how the crunchiness of the fries, the gooey-ness of the melted cheese and the silky gravy just overloads your senses. Some fries got soggy, of course, but it's okay, coz it was soggy with yummeh gravy.
I can imagine sitting with a big bowl of this with my girlfriends and moaning with ecstasy with each mouthful, just like we did the first time we shared a bowl of beef queso.
Simply put, YUM!

PB, you MUSTI cuba ni!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

today ...

She would have been 37.

Does the grief ever end?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saudi Moon

Dedicated to RotiKacangMerah.
(If you dont know yet, cik lin kita ni likes to collect pictures of full moons)

We saw this moon on our way back from our daily walk (in preparation for Hajj)(Maklumlah, kita dah gumux dan lama tak exercise) last Thursday.
When we(read: Taufik) were taking this picture, we heard a whirring sound from the back of the houses and saw these smoke columns billowing up. Rupa-rupa nya diorang tengah buat fogging kat luar.
"Ambik gambaq cepat!!" I told taufik and he took a picture before the smoke engulfed the moon, thus catching it in this thriller-like creepy looking pose.

I wish I had a zoom lense.. the moon looks so small in pictures. :P

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kita beri laluan untuk iklan..

(Click for bigger picture)

Maybe some of you would be interested.
You can also contact my good friend Haslina at for the forms to fill out and details on how payments can be made.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Easy Peasy Ayam Percik

Dedicated to Nazrah

"Ayam Percik" ("Ayam" - are-yum is chicken, "Percik" - purrrrr-cheek is sprinkle/spatter) is the East Coast Malaysian version of barbecue chicken. Instead of a spicy, tangy and sweet sauce though, they use a spicy, creamy, sweet and sour sauce to marinade, and to baste the chicken with.
If you try and g00gle for the recipe, you'd find many many versions of the recipe, ranging from complicated to easy. The one I'm using is one of the easier ones coz as you all may be aware, I am a lazy cook and is always looking for shortcuts. This one is actually based on my mom's recipe for the sambal tumis nasi kerabu (the gravy that goes with rice eaten with salad of a combination of leaves, shoots and herbs). The ingredients are easy enough to find, and it requires very few steps, but on the scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the easiest), I would prolly rate this as a 6, because it does require a little bit of patience to wait for the gravy to thicken up and cook properly.
The result, however, is worth it ;)

Easy Peasy Ayam Percik

5 dried chillies (you may use chipotle if you like, soaked in warm water to soften)
5 shallots
2 cloves garlic
a thick sliver of fresh garlic
1 can (about 2 cups) coconut milk
1 chicken stock cube (or 1/2 cup of chicken stock)
one lemon grass (only use bottom 5 inch, bruise with the back of a knife)
1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp sugar
1 medium sized chicken cut into quarters or eighths.

Blend or pound chillies, shallots, garlic and ginger.
In a saucepot, combine all ingredients except chicken and stir to mix well.
Bring to a boil then add in chicken.
Let simmer till chicken is 3/4 cooked.
Take out chicken pieces with a thong, set aside and prepare griller/broiler.
Simmer gravy till it is thick and oil starts to break out.
Baste chicken pieces with gravy and grill/broil till chicken is done, turning once and basting it again.
Serve with remaining gravy.
Can be eaten with rice or bread.

Ayam Percik with Almost Nasi Kerabu

I had my ayam percik with white rice, a salad of thinly sliced long beans and water convulvus, and crispy fish crackers. It was only a sambal ikan & kelapa short of nasi kerabu, but it was enough to satisfy a rambler away from home like me ;)

Edited to add:
To make sambal nasi kerabu, subtitute chicken stock with ikan bilis stock or 1/4 cup budu (or anchovy sauce).
This sauce also goes well with fish.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Preparing Myself

I'm preparing myself for hajj. It excites me, yet scares me. I'm excited that I will be able to carry out the 5th pillar of my religion, but I am scared if something happens and I will not be able to do it for some reason. I am scared that even if I was able to do it, it is not 'as good' as others.

I keep thinking of things that I have done wrong, or I have not yet done (like, bila nak start ganti puasa nih? isy isy isy). I keep thinking about what if I had unintentionally hurt someone's feelings through my jokes or sessi menyakat or if I am tak sedar diri ter-mulut laser... will that bear weight on my hajj? Will some sins i've commited in the past be my obstacle to my journey?
Then again, I've managed to do my umrah before, so perhaps I should be confident, that I will once again be accepted to be a guest in His 'house'?

Sometimes I feel the need to distract myself and while I'm clicking on sudoku numbers I tell myself have faith have faith, don't get discouraged by your fears, just do your best, he is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim, loving and forgiving. You take one step towards God, and He will repay you ten-fold if not more. Right?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Easy Peasy Chilli Cheese Fries

I was drooling over PB's post about poutine yesterday, and decided to make some myself.
Unfortunately, I couldnt find cheese curds at the grocery store, and I had been craving for chilli con carne for a while now, so I thought I'd make chilli cheese fries instead. (In respect of my canadian friends, I won't even call it poutine).
I used this brand of seasoned french fries that is the name of a presidential candidate.
I made chilli using this recipe, except I omitted the beans and cheese sauce.
I grated some cheddar cheese and mixed it with grated mozarella.

I started making the chilli right after I had put the fries in the oven, and it was done by the time the fries were crispy.
Ladeled the chilli over the fries and sprinkled a really generous amount of cheese. YUM.
I had to eat these with a fork.

Layers of sin. Try not to think about the calories.

If I'm lucky, I'd have some chilli leftover so that I can eat it with corn chips tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Easy Peasy Chunky Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Got this recipe from Lily, on faceb00k.
I usually use the box mix from b3tty cr0cker, so I never really bothered with making brownies from scratch before, but Lily's looked so easy and so yummeh, I just had to try it.
I modified the recipe a bit because I think 2 cups of sugar is just a little too much, and I had a hankering for dark chocolate and I had some peanut butter to finish off. I also modified the method a bit because I only have one measuring cup and I wanted to use it without washing it too often.

Easy Peasy Chunky Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups sugar (I just use granulated sugar)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons chunky peanut butter (or smooth, or more, if you like)
200gram of your favourite dark chocolate bar (cut into chunks)

Preheat oven to 350degFarenhite. Grease, flour and/or line the bottom of 9"X9" square pan or 11" round baking pan.
In a bowl, mix well flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cocoa powder.
In another bowl, mix well oil and eggs.
Add flour mix into oil+egg mix bit by bit and stir to mix well. Add vanilla and peanut butter and stir till well incorporated (you dont see peanut butter streaks anymore).
Fold in chocolate chunks.
Pour into baking pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until your cake tester (read: toothpick) comes out clean.
Let cool completely before cutting.

Like Lily said, this is a very good recipe to make with your kids. Anis helped me make mine, by mixing the flour and then later mixing the batter. Since my method requires two bowls, you can have 2 kids helping with each bowl if you want.
This recipe was so quick to make, by the time I was done measuring and mixing, I still had a few more minutes to wait before my oven was properly preheated.

The result was a brownie that wasn't too sweet, and had all the different yummeh tastes, textures and dwarves - chocolatey, sweetie, salty, softy, chewy, gooey and crunchy.

I had cut mine into half inch squares and put it in a paper cup because:
1. I do not have a square pan so I used a round pan instead, but brownies just dont look good in wedges.
2. I wanted to bring it to a party and felt guilty about it being so easy peasy so I felt the need to put in the extra effort.
3. I wanted to make it look less threatening to the waist for the lady guests who were watching what they eat.

Try it out with your family and friends! ;)

Side Story:
To tell you the truth, my brownies didn't cook properly at first. After 20 minutes in the oven, I found out that my batter was still wobbly. It was as if it wasn't cooking at all! I checked the oven dial to make sure I had set it properly, and it was. I thought maybe it was because I had added peanut butter, so I decided to let it bake for another 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes it still wasn't cooked! I started to think that I had contracted the Nazrah Baking Curse (Sorry Nazrah!). It was less than 2 hours to the party and my brownie wasnt done, and I still needed to let it cool, then cut it, then put them in paper cups then take pictures... I was starting to panic. But I calmed myself down, put on my engineer hat and started to think about how this could happen.
The only reasons a cake would not cook well is if there's too much moisture in the batter, or if there's not enough heat in the oven. I had not added too much extra liquid (a mere 4 tbsp of peanut butter couldn't have done this much harm!), so it must be insufficient heat. The thermostat is saying 350degrees, so the heat must be escaping somehow. I checked the oven door and I discovered it was skewed, and was not closing properly. I had to adjust it a bit to close it properly, and after 20 minutes of baking with the door properly closed, voila, my brownie was done! (Though the edges were kinda hard and crusty, my kids just happily ate those bits).
I've got to call the maintenance folks to fix my oven. If I'm lucky, I might even get a new one! woo hoooo!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anis the Scarecrow

I don't really 'celebrate' Halloween. It's not in my culture (nor religion) and I don't really believe in it. I also don't like the idea of giving children cavities. I mean, how is it that you tell them "not too much candy" on other days, but then shower them with candy on this one day? No wonder they're confused.

Every year towards the end of October though, kids in KeyStage1 (ages 4 to 7) at my children's school gets a letter that they get to wear costumes to school on the very last day of the very last week. The idea of going to school in normal clothes itself excites the children, what more costumes! So for a few weeks in October, I get bugged with costume ideas and whines about why they cant go to school as this, or that.
I try to play it down, make them wear their normal clothes and tell them they are a librarian or an army guy in covert operation so they must be disguised in plainclothes. Last year Anis wore her lacy kebaya from bandung and I stuck a fake plastic crown on her head and told her she's a Malaysian princess.

This year Anis wanted to be a princess again, because (whine) "But Hanna's going to be a princess!!!!". I balked at the idea. I mean.. I dont want her to stereotype herself. I actually thought of getting her a hardhat and make her go as a drilling engineer. But I'm too lazy to go look for a small hardhat.
So looking at stuff I had around the house and her existing clothes, I suggested to Anis that she could be a scarecrow. She was excited enough to not bug me everyday with her "What can I wear? What can I wear?".

She went to school today looking like this:

The overalls, long sleeve t-shirt and hat were all from her closet.
I cut up square pieces from remnants of the baju kurung & dress I made her (I swear, I wont mention it again), and sewed them on the overall and tshirt with exagerrated stitching to look like patches.
I cut up strips from yellow plastic bag, tied them on rubber bands to create 'straw' bracelets for her hands and feet. The same strips of yellow plastic bag were also used to line the hat to make it look like it was filled with straw.
This morning I braided her hair, put some foundation on her face, and drew the scarecrow smile, eyes and nose.

She was so happy!
As I watched her walk to the bus, her friend Hanna was dropped off by her dad. I could hear her scream excitedly to Hanna, "I'm a scarecrow!!"
I hope she has fun in school.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mee Kari Leftover

As you may or may not know, I have this habit of using last night's leftovers to make lunch for my kids and I. It's not only environmentally friendly (reduce waste, re-use), it is also economical and time-saving. I don't need to throw away food, I save money on groceries, and I cut my cooking time by at least half.
Every night after dinner, I would look at what i have left and plan for tomorrow's lunch. Sometimes I don't even plan, I just stuff everything into tupperwares inside the fridge, then look at what I have the next day, and try to figure out what to make for lunch. Most of the time, dishes turn into fried rice or porridges or sandwiches. Some time though, like today, I would hit the jackpot.
Yesterday I made goreng pisang (banana fritters) and had leftover batter. I fried the leftover batter into crunchy bits. I made fried chicken and vegetable soup for dinner and had some leftover. Looking at the fried chicken and crunchy fritter batter, I instantly thought of Lollies and had a craving for mee kari (curry noodles).

How to turn your leftover soup into curry gravy for noodles

1 pot of leftover soup (chicken/vegetable/fish)
5 shallots
2 pips garlic
half an inch fresh ginger
half an inch galangal (lengkuas)
2 tbsp curry powder
more water/stock if needed
coconut milk (1/2 cup, or more if you like your gravy thick)
meat/prawns/fish ball or tofu if there's not enough 'stuff' in your leftover soup.
salt to taste

Slice shallots, garlic and ginger into thin strips. In a frying pan, saute in a little bit of oil till fragrant.
Add a little liquid from soup, then add curry powder and galangal. Saute till a thin film of oil rises to the top (add more soup if it gets too dry).
Add into soup, add water/stock/liquid if necessary, bring to a boil.
Add meat and coconut milk, bring to a boil.
Taste and season as desired.
Serve with noodles (egg noodles, rice noodles or spaghetti) and garnishings (spring onions, bawang goreng (crispy fried shallots), sliced chillies, boiled eggs, fried chicken, sliced fried tofu, crispy bits) of your choice.

I had some fish cake and spring onions, and was too lazy to boil eggs and slice chillies and forgot I had bawang goreng, so here's what mine looked like:

Amacam Lolls, ada pass ka?

Happy cooking!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Relationship Realization

After my husband gently crawled over izani to snuggle up to me on my side of the bed, I realized something:
Just as he is my only source of comfort and pleasure, so am I his.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Tunguska Treatment

My husband has this really bad habit of reacting to my anger instead of addressing it.
Instead of getting understanding and comfort, I would often get scolded for being angry. This of course, makes me all the more angry. Sometimes initially I would be angry at something or someone else, but when he scolds me for getting angry, I would start feeling angry at *him*.
I have told him so many times how this habit of his makes me feel. I feel like he is saying I have no right to be angry. I feel like he is dismissing my feelings. I feel like he is dismissing *me*. I feel unsupported and uncomforted when he's the only person I could turn to for emotional support and comfort. It makes me feel unloved.

When this happened again for the umpteenth time, I decided to give him the cold shoulder. (Coz expressing my anger would only mean I'd get scolded again, so what other choice do I have?).

Every morning we have this ritual we do before he goes to work. I 'salam' (something like shaking his hand) him, kiss his hand, kiss him and give him a hug and we say our "I love you"s.
This morning, the effort came mostly from him. I still salam-ed and kissed his hand (coz I want his forgiveness even if he's not asking for mine), but the kiss was not as passionate (just a peck) and he was doing most of the hugging. I didn't bother replying to his declaration of love, even almost replied "yeah... right". I just turned around and got back to cutting up vegetables for making stock.

As I was chopping the butts off the spring onions, I thought of what he was wearing to work. Coveralls, boots and he had carried his cardboard box of hard hat, nozzles, gauges and what not.
It occurred to me that he's going to the rig. That would take at least an hour or two of driving. I felt kinda guilty. I can't let him drive that long and that far with a heavy heart as a result of my behavior this morning. I don't even know where he's going off to!
I checked that he had not driven past my kitchen window, so I ran to the front door hoping to catch him. Sure enough, I opened the door to find him reversing the car.
I held up my hand, but he thought I was saying goodbye, so he waved back and turned the car to move forward. I held up my hand again, and he finally rolled down the window.

"Where are you going?" I shouted from my front door to him out on the street.
"Manifa", he replied, and put up three fingers, meaning 3 hours drive away.
"Drive carefully!" I said to him.
And he smiled a smile that even I could see from that distance.

I bet he's thinking "Sayang jugak dia kat aku" (She loves me after all).
Ya lah.. memang lah sayang. (yes, of course I love him)

I'm still angry though.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homeward Bound?

The most common question we get during our raya open house rounds was
"Dengar cerita, Elisa dah nak balik, betul ke?"
"I heard that you were going home, is it true?"

Yes, it's true.
The last time we were back in Malaysia, Taufik made his annual visit to his old office in KL, and his former boss asked if he could come back. They wanted him back end of this year, but to be fair to his team in Saudi, Taufik negotiated a later date, most probably in July next year.

When we told everyone we were moving here four years ago, we were asked how long we were planning to be away from home. Our standard answer was "Sampai kaya, atau sampai boring" ("Until we're rich, or until we're bored"). Well, you can be assured that we are not 'kaya' yet. Even though our definition of 'rich' is very simple, i.e. be debt free (and not necessarily own lotsa stuff), we are still a long way from there.
So I guess you can say that we're moving back home because we're 'bored'.
Well, Taufik is, at least. Not that the work is not challenging, it is VERY challenging. Not that he's not up to the challenge.. it's just that... hm.. I guess he just misses home. He misses gardening. He misses his parents. He misses the weather.

If you ask me, I have mixed feelings about moving.
I am really going to miss the laidback, almost pampered life in the kingdom. I'm sure when I go back to Malaysia, I'm going to be expected to drive again. I know it means 'independence', but it also means 'commitments'. I would have to drive the kids to/from school. I'd have to buy groceries myself. I'd prolly have to do alot of stuff myself, and not be able to 'bermanja' with Taufik anymore.. :P
Having to drive would also probably mean I'd have less time for myself. Would I have time to bake? Would I have time to blog? (How in the world did I do it before? Especially when I was working? I have forgotten!)
I feel like I have not done enough travelling. There's still so much I want to see, within the kingdom and also within the region. I still have not been to Shaybah, Madinah, or gone dune bashing. I still have not been to Jordan, or Lebanon. There's still so many things I want to experience and buy...! Trivial things, really...

The main thing I'm worried about is my children's education. Will they be able to cope with the demands and pressure of the Malaysian Education system? Will I? Will they enjoy school as much as they do here? Or will they get bored and discouraged?
We checked out a few schools the last time we came back and most of them stress on academic performance, citing their achievements in nationwide exams. They told me to prepare my child for the BM paper from *now*, and not wait till they take UPSR. When I ask the teachers here in DBGS about the SATS exam, they all said the same thing - "It's just one little exam, we focus more on the total development of your child, so don't worry about it". I'm going to miss *that*!!!

Otherwise, I'm pretty psyched about coming home.
I miss my family. I miss my house. I miss being able to go to the mosque whenever I want. I miss friday lunch dates with my girlfriends. I miss burger special daging garing bungkus telur sayur lebih taknak bawang sos hitam. I miss being able to find food anytime I want. I miss being able to shop anytime I want. I miss taking the LRT. I miss looking at billowy clouds. I miss the rain.

Well, I still have 8 to 9 months to enjoy this place I've called "home away from home" for the past three and a half years... so I'm gonna make the most of it :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Easy Peasy Bubur Lambuk (Mixed Porridge)

Every time I cook bubur lambuk (mixed porridge), I feel like that guy who cooked nail soup.
You know the story - a vagrant asks a miser to make some soup using only water and a rusty crooked nail, then he starts adding more and more ingredients to 'make it better' and ends up with a delicious nutritious soup.

The basic ingredients for my bubur lambuk is simple - water, rice (raw or cooked, the only difference is the time it takes to become porridge), fish stock, shallots and pepper, and a ladle of coconut milk. I might replace fish stock with pounded anchovies/dried prawns or a stock cube or actual fish flesh (pounded to a pulp) or even last nights leftover vegetable soup or even sayur masak lemak, but the other ingredients cannot be subtituted. What else I put in it depends on what I have in the fridge. If you want it authentic, put pucuk mmiding (a kind of fern shoot) and budu, but kangkung (water convulvus) would also do. I have put cabbages, potatoes, carrots, celery and ground beef in mine and the kids just ate it up.

Though this rice porridge is usually eaten un-garnished, I have picked up a habit from my pakistani friends - I brown some onion slices (until crispy or not, depends on how you like it) and add it to my porridge. Yum.

Easy Peasy Bubur Lambuk
(makes 6 servings)

1/4 cup uncooked rice or 1/2 cup cooked rice
4 cups liquid (water or stock)
3 shallots
half teaspoon black peppercorns
a handful of anchovies or dried shrimp
hard vegetables of your choice (cubed or cut into small pieces)
leafy vegetables of your choice (preferrably sliced thinly)
meat of choice (optional, minced or cut into small pieces)
one ladle coconut milk (roughly 6 tablespoons?)
salt and pepper to taste

Pound shallots, peppercorns and anchovies/shrimp till fine.
In a huge pot, put in ground ingredients, rice and liquid, bring to a boil.
Let simmer, stirring ocassionally, till rice has fatten up.
Put in the hard vegetables and meat, if using, and cook till vegetables are tender. (add more liquid if it gets too thick).
Put in the leafy vegetables and coconut milk, stir to mix well.
Simmer till porridge is thick, add salt and pepper to taste.

If your kids don't like fried onions like my kids, serve it seperately as a side dish.
This porridge is also a good way to sneak in veggies into your children's diet ;).

p/s For my non-asian friends who uses the anchovies they put on pizzas, you might want to use only like half a tablespoon of it, and taste it first before adding more salt.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Easy Peasy Sausage and Cheese Croissants

Inspired by Kak Nora's lunch box efforts, I, the ever malas (lazy) bonda, ventured to make an easy peasy version of the sausage roll, using ready made cheese croissants (available at any bakery/grocery store, plain also can) and some mini sausages (look for it at your frozen food section. I guess normal sized sausages will do too).
I just fried the sausages, slit the croissants on one side lengthwise (do not cut through), squeezed sauces per the child's preference (Anis wanted ketchup, Ilham wanted chilli sauce, Ihsan wanted nothing), then stuffed the mini sausages (3 or 4, depending on the size of the crescent bread) into the slits.
Wrap the croissants up in wax paper lined foil, and campak masuk lunch box.

Habis Cerita.

This is the adult's version, with mayo, lettuce and chilli sauce

Monday, October 06, 2008

son sleeping solo

Taufik was still on holiday on saturday while the other kids had to go to school, so Izani got some precious one-on-one time with his ayah

Somehow I feel like Izani is growing up faster than my other kids. Perhaps it's because he has older siblings to teach him stuff. I think he talks faster and better compared to my other kids when they were his age, and he is also more physically adept (he can put on his shoes on his own, even knows how to switch and put the right one on the right foot) compared to the others.

What is most obvious at the moment is he is sleeping seperately from me at an earlier age than the others. If you can recall, it was a battle to get the older ones to sleep in their own room. With Izani however, he was the one who initiated the move.

One night, we were in bed, he asked "I wan seep, iham hoom". At first I thought he meant 'home', and I kept telling him we were home and that his abang Ilham is home as well. He kept insisting "Iham hoom!" till he was almost crying, when I finally realized that he meant he wanted to sleep in Ilham's room.

So we let him.

The first few nights, he'd be playing instead of sleeping. One night he even managed to convince all his siblings to wake up and watch TV. I woke up to find all four of them sprawled on the sofa in the TV room, and they all blamed Izani for 'making them watch TV'. I told them to be firm with Izani and say No the next time he asks. They also got nagged about it everytime they complain about being sleepy during the proceeding day.
He doesn't make them watch TV anymore, but sometimes he does bug them to play or read him a book, but I just told them to go to sleep and ignore Izani (for I know how they can sleep like a log and ignore distractions when they want to). Sure enough, after a while, Izani would fall asleep as well. It's kinda cute watching Izani pull up the covers up to his chin and repeat "goo nite bonda, i love you" after his older siblings.

So nowadays I have my bed and my husband all to myself. tee hee.
I can't help but feel sad sometimes, though. I miss having Izani sleep beside me. I miss getting a little hug from him in the middle of the night. I miss his tiny kicks to my back or tummy or face. I miss his squeaky snore. I miss him nuzzling under my armpit for comfort. I miss reaching out at night to hug his tiny purring body.
I gained a good night's sleep, but I feel like I lost my teddy bear.

Kids grow up so fast, don't they?

Friday, October 03, 2008

hectic hari raya

'Hectic' would be an understatement.

Juadah pagi raya, ketupat, ayam masak merah, kuah kacang, serunding daging, serunding ikan. Nostalgia betul

I made a list of my raya itinerary:-

First raya (Dhahran):
Abg Zaki & Kak Siti (laksa kelantan, nasi briyani)
Abg Azizi & Kak Ita (spaghetti, mee kari, home made banana chips)
Abg Riz & Kak Aida (nasi dagang, satay and ketupat)
Abg Ma'il & Kak Khamsiah (miscellaneous kuih raya and I got to bring home some ketupat bawang that Abg Ma'il woved with his own bare hands)
Abg Mat Shah & Kak Ana (nasi briyani johore, ubi rebus with sambal tumis ikan bilis, pizza)
Abg Affendy & Kak Zaleha (ketupat pulut just like cikgu munah makes, rendang ayam, mee udang power giler)

The only kuih raya I made - rice krispy treats (chocolate and peanut butter) and easy peasy kuih gunting from leftover samosa leaves

Second Raya (Ras Tanura):
Abg Harun & Kak Su (nasi minyak, lontong)
Abg Razali & kak Sue (er.. makan apa ya? i remember very nice kuih raya..)
Abg Zul & Kak Izah (ketupat, rendang, kuah kacang)
Azmi & Gee (mee rebus)
Samsudin & Jo (entah apa I makan pun dah tak ingat .. oh yes, Laksa Johor!)

Third Raya (home & Dhahran):
6 cars from riyadh came to my house for lunch (white rice, fish head curry, fried chicken and assortment of other lauk brought from riyadh)
Abg Bakar & Kak Faridah (nasi goreng kampung, laksa sudan)
Raja Azlan & Kak Zie (I ate tooo much!)
Abg Khairy & Kak Nas (I was so full, I only ate tit bits and kuih raya)

Fourth Raya (today):
Ashok & Kak Aida (yummeh mee bandung and I brought white rice, fish head curry, sambal tumis udang and omelletes as 'support dishes')
I have a dinner invitation from Haji Nawawi and kak Azizah, but I dont think I'll be able to make it.. :P

my tit-bit station - store bought banana chips and mixed nuts

It is no wonder that my tummy hurts.
Looking at the decreasing trend in invitations, I am expecting to do nothing tomorrow. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Krispy Lessons

Lessons Learnt from yesterday's session of making rice krspy treats -

1. You cannot add chocolate chips to your rice krispy treats. The heat will just melt the chocolate and all you have is messy, ugly looking treats that tend to crumble coz the chocolate get in the way of the marshmallows. (But they still taste yummeh, so don't worry, your kids will eat them up in a jiffy)

2. If you want too add other ingredients to your treats, try nuts or raisins.

3. A pizza cutter (the wheel kind) is a good tool to use to cut up your treats into strips. Pull the cutter towards you instead of pushing it. It's easier to apply pressure on the blade that way.

4. A knife still works best for cutting your strips into squares. A flat blade, tapped hard on the treats works better than a serated blade, because the sawing motion might cause the treats to break up.

5. Using pink marshmallows with white rice krispies creates pretty girly treats.

6. The cheapest rice krispies you can find is at the indian grocery store, sold in plastic bags, not fancy boxes.

7. Always make your rice krispy treats at the last minute, because they dont last long. They can keep long in an airtight container, but some will magically dissapear before Eid day. You are forewarned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I want to ...

... be Yves Rossy when I grow up.

... get Anis's baju kurung over with coz I need to make cookies!! :(

... take a break sometimes, so some of you might be a target for my sudoku fix. My apologies!!

... reply to comments, but don't really have time at the mo. Will get to it soon, ya?

... blog about 'Syawal in Trengganu', but again, (read above).

... wish all my muslim friends and family -

Eid Mubarak ya habibi!

Maaf Zahir Batin sekiranya ada salah dan silap, sengaja atau tak, sedar atau tak, kecik atau besar.. rest assured that I would do the same to you :)

Drive Safe, Celebrate Well!
Think of me when you're eating all that yummeh malaysian dishes!

Trying to thread

I have never learnt how to sew. Whatever sewing skills I have, I had picked up from my mom, who taught Home Science and used to sew our Eid clothes. She showed me how to do that criss cross stitch that keeps that flap that form the kurung's collar in place. See, I don't even know the proper terms.

Being an engineer by training though, I love to build things, and I decided to apply that passion into sewing. I took one of Anis's old baju kurung pesak and did some reverse engineering. I drew a diagram to visualize what the seperate pieces of the dress would look like and how it would be constructed. I measured Anis, calculated and wrote down the figures on my diagram and figured out how much material I needed. I brought material, then re-drew the diagram to find out where I should cut the material to minimize wastage.
I put my education to good use after all. It may not be an aeroplane, but it's close enough for me.

So now I'm sewing. By hand.
There were moments while I'm sewing that I look at the clock and think gosh I haven't cooked yet or looked at the basket full of laundry to be washed/folded/ironed or looked at my ignored kids or thought of the cookies I haven't baked for eid or when I get poked for the umpteenth time by the needle, that I think I'm crazy to be doing this.
Sewing by hand!! Just go buy a sewing machine for gawds sakes! but I think about how I've got to get ready and go out and go look for a sewing machine and then read the manual to learn how to use it and how during all that time I could be doing actual sewing, I would tell myself, Fergeddit. I'll just keep on sewing by hand.
I am malas (lazy) but rajin (not lazy) that way.

Body and collar done, sleeves and kekek done. Now need to put them together, then on to constructing the skirt.

Wish me luck and somebody please tell taufik to buy me a sewing machine for my next birthday.
tee hee

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kid Friendly Asam Pedas

I love asam pedas, but because I am allergic to belacan (fermented shrimp paste), I am often wary to eat it at restaurants, coz most often than not, they would put belacan in it. But I luuuuuuurrrve asam pedas.
I had some fish the other day and was bored with the usual curry, so I decided to try making asam pedas. Furthermore, I just brought some bunga kantan and daun kesum from Malaysia, so what better way to use them other than for asam pedas?
I browsed for recipes and found one that doesn't use belacan, here.
I didn't have some of the ingredients and I had to make it kid-friendly, so here's my modified version:

Kid Friendly Asam Pedas

3 shallots, 2 pips garlic
3 pieces dried chillies (more if you like it spicier), cut up and soaked in hot water to soften
1/2 inch ginger
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp blackpepper corns

3 tbsp oil
1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp mixed spices (fenugreek, poppyseeds, cumin)*
2 stalks curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
water (depends on how thick/thin you want the sauce to be)
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 medium sized fish (or 2 small fish), any kind you like
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
1/2 bunga kantan (?)
as much daun kesum as you like
salt and sugar to taste

In a saucepot, heat up oil and saute sliced onions, mixed spices and curry leaves till fragrant.
Add ground ingredients, turmeric powder and tomato paste, let fry till a little dry and oil rises to the top.
Add water, tamarind pulp and oyster sauce, bring to a boil.
Add in the rest of the ingredients (fish + leaves), let simmer till fish is cooked.
Add salt and sugar to taste.
Serve with steamed white rice.

Asam Pedas Ikan Kembung (yang tak berapa pedas)

* This mixed spices are the same ones I use to make fish head curry. You can find them sold in packets at Giant or any grocery store in Malaysia. Outside of malaysia, though, it can be quite difficult to find so you might have to mix your own based on the seeds/spices I mentioned above.
The list of ingredients is long, but when you look at the method, you'll see that it's pretty easy.
I added oyster sauce to substitute for the belacan flavour. It worked :)
Like all Asam Pedas, this tastes better after reheating the next day, because all of the ingredients would've simmered and melded together for a while.
I know a certain family in Qatar that eats their Asam Pedas with bread, pancakes or paratha. *wink*

Happy trying, and I hope I have inspired you :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ramadhan in Trengganu

I don't know how it is now, but spending Ramadhan in Trengganu was a lot of fun to me. Perhaps it was because I was a child and need not have to worry about what to cook for iftar. tee hee.

The beginning of ramadhan is marked by the sound of the cannon (from the top of Bukit Puteri?). The sound would usually be followed by someone or other saying "hoh! Esok Posa" (hoh, tomorrow we start fasting). I guess the end of the fasting month would be marked the same way, but I never know because we were always somewhere else, either in Merang, where my dad's side of the family lives or in Besut, where my mom's side of the family lives.

Iftar (the breaking of fast at sundown), during Ramadhan was almost always done with special fare, though not necessarily with Trengganu food. My mom's offering during ramadhan would include western dishes like Chili Con Carne, beef stew, these meatballs with peas eaten with bread, and spaghetti bolognaise, things she doesnt normally cook throughout the rest of the year. Once in a while we'd have malaysian food like rice and noodles, but it's those special dishes that we look forward to (and still crave for till now) every Ramadhan.
Hm.. was there any special food that Trengganu folks eat during Ramadhan? I'm not sure.. as far as I can remember, the food was great throughout the year, so I can't recall anything special for the month of ramadhan. Except maybe for Air Nira and Nekbat.
Air Nira is the nectar from palm flowers. Expert climbers would climb up a palm tree, cut a bit off the flower and hang a container of some sort to collect the dripping nectar. The collected nectar is sold by the roadsides at small wooden stalls, and my dad would not fail to stop if he sees one.
Nekbat are these tiny oval shaped cakes made of flour and eggs, I think, and it is usually served cold in clove spiked syrup sauce. They are cool, soft, creamy and sweet at the same time. Just the thought of them makes me drool. Unfortunately I couldnt find any the last time I went home.
The above 2 items are available throughout the year, but somehow we only have it during ramadhan, perhaps because they are considered to be quite indulgent food, and we could only have it as a reward for fasting.

I started learning to fast when I turned 7, I think.
Like all kids, I started fasting for half a day first, breaking my fast at noon instead of sundown. After awhile though, you get tired of the taunts "Posa yang yok, pagi pagi bukok puyok" (fasting you're not, early morning opening the pot) and you would try to fast for the whole day. Achieving this was okay when school is in session, but when the school holiday starts and we go back to my grandmother's place where all the other kids are also on holiday and they ask you to come out and play and you play all. day. long, it's quite a feat to keep yourself from breaking your fast. I must admit, there were a few times, after a session of rounders or deghghak (walking around) somewhere, I would come home and sneak a drink from the payyang koko (the brown earthen vessel) at the foot of the green steps of my grandmother's house (Sorry, Papa! *sheepish grin*). The cup may just be a chetong made out of rusty milk tin, and the water may just be un-cooked well water put there to be used to wash your feet before you come into the house, but at that moment, it tasted like the cool nectar from heavens.

I loved going back to my grandmother's house during Ramadhan. Aside from her ttuppat sutong (Stuffed squid) and the numerous friends I could play with, there was also Malam Tujuh Likur, probably the highlight of a child's life in the month of ramadhan. "Malam Tujuh Likur" is celebrated on the 27th night of Ramadhan. During this time, most of the houses would be busy preparing eid cookies and the night air would be filled with the sweet smell of baking. People would begin decorating their house for eid, by hanging lapu nynyeceh nynyembor (them twinkling lights), if you can afford it, or just the pelita, lanterns made out of milk tins filled with turpentine and a piece of rag or string as a wick. You'd get to try on your raya clothes for the first time. You'd get to walk around with your friends with lanterns, either the milk tin kind or the storebought paper ones with a birthday candle, to light your way while you deghghak meghata (walkaround everywhere).
Fireworks haven't been banned yet when I was growing up, so we would also light the skies up with them. There were the long thin ones that shoot multicolored balls of fire (together we would all count out loud how many there are), there were ones that would release a parachute at the end of the explosion, and then there were milder ones- like the hand held bunga-api (sparklers), or those shaped like a snake and would leave a crumbly ash in a coil when it goes out (macam ubat nyamuk). For those of us that can't afford fireworks, we would go around, lanterns in hand, and look for ppurong (Coconut shells). We'd stack them up on a pole (erected by an adult for that purpose), then when we've covered the whole pole, an adult would light them up in a tower of bonfire. Doesn't sound like much now, but at that time, it was like the best fire show ever. I guess there's a tiny closet arsonist in all of us.

I wish my kids could experience all this, but unfortunately the environment nowadays is different from what it used to be when I was growing up. I would never let them walk around in the dark on their own, unless it's in the compound.
ah.. the good old days. *sigh*

Friday, September 19, 2008

juvenile jiggy-ing

My kids dancing to the new radio:

I don't know what they ate to make them so hyper that night.
And Izani was just his normal cheeky self.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008



pegilah tidor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Interesting Iftar

First, let me explain to you why I did not post the picture of my raspberry cheesecake:

1. There was no raspberry cheesecake. I thought I had bought raspberry topping, but it turned out to be strawberries in syrup (Note: Never shop while you're hungry, coz the lack of glucose affects your eyesight and brain capacity). There is nothing uglier than un-fresh stawrberries. It tasted okay though.
2. I had procrastinated so much (I played Sudoku!! *hangs head in shame* I think I have a problem. Dr. Phil help me), that I was late in baking the cheesecake. By the time the cake had cooled down sufficiently for me to slap on the whipped cream and arrange the strawberries on top, it was time to leave for my friend's house. I did not get a chance to take any pictures before it was all cut up and eaten.

So there you have it. No raspberry cheesecake pictures.

Yesterday we got an invitation for iftar with the folks at Sm1th at Le Meridian Hotel (again). Taufik had wanted to go to the Holiday Inn this year, and I was excited about it coz from the outside it looked like they erected traditional bedouin tents or something (or maybe it's just the entrance? *shrug*), but then Holiday Inn couldn't accommodate the whole office+families, so they bought tickets for Meridian instead.
Food was okay, same like last year. I ate lotsa salmon (so did Izani). I had these yummeh grilled eggplants, and a stuffed eggplant baked in tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella. I so want to eat that again, but i'm afraid if I make it myself, no one else would eat it, coz no one else in my house likes eggplants. Maybe I should try to make it at the next gathering, whenever that may be.

Just like last year, they had a lucky draw at the end of the evening. Last year we didn't win anything, so we weren't that hopeful this year. The prizes were mostly crap anyways (electrical items, lotions from a neighbouring spa), except for the final grand prize, which was one return ticket to Abu Dhabi. That never stopped the kids from being excited about the possibility of winning something though. Ihsan and Anis eagerly held on to their tickets and checked their numbers every time. Ihsan kept asking me, "if I win, I can go up there and take my present?" and I would exasperatingly answer "Yes....".

So we were listening to the guy announcing the winning numbers, and he said "Four, Wahid, Two, Sifar", but the mixture of english and arabic numbers confused us and I thought it was 4127. We waited for the announcement again but somehow the guy went on and on about the rules and regulations for entering the lucky draw for a car pulak dah. At taufik's table, one guy had 4119, the other had 4121 so taufik thought, "the winning ticket must be among us". I asked him what the winning ticket was and he said "4120".
I asked Ihsan what his ticket number was and he said "4120!".
"4120! You won, Ihsan!" I said excitedly.
"I won? So I can go?" , he was equally excited and unsure at the same time.
"You won! Go!" I urged him, coz they were about to pull another number.

You should've seen the way he skipped to the stage and take his prize. It was just a small portable cassette recorder FM/AM radio thingy, but he held it like it was gold. He brought it around everywhere he went. He only put it down when he went to get more dessert (He said my cheesecake was better than the hotel's cheesecake. *wink* such a charmer), and even then he asked me several times, to seriously, look after his radio.

We went home and tried it out. Ihsan was so happy as he danced to Sultans of Swing in the living room.
We pointed out to him that maybe this is Allah's way of rewarding him for fasting for 15 days straight.

"What's a 'cassette'?" he asked me. :D

*rolls eyes*
I feel old.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Not a food post.

I thought it'd be good to take a break.
Plus I'm gonna make a raspberry cheesecake today, so I'll save that torture for tomorrow. *mwahahaha*

Let's talk about mundane things like politics and tv and such.

I didn't get to catch the democratic convention on TV, but I did get a glimpse of Rudy and Sarah talking at the Republican Convention.
It was chilling.
It was like watching a devil worshipping cult movie or something, especially when they were chanting "Drill baby Drill".
You citizens of america better make your choices carefully.

What in the world is going on with my country lah?
I dont understand why you keep voting for these ***holes when they are so obviously ***holes.
*geram nih*

I saw Spiderman 2 for the umpteenth time and only recently noticed something - that receptionist chewing gum and refusing to pay for her pizza order because it was late, she's Bones!

During Ramadhan, MBC4 shows Americas Funniest Videos instead of Oprah. My kids and I are hooked! We sit together and laugh our ***es off at the really funny videos. Izani loves anything with animals and babies so he enjoys it too.

I really should take a break from Sudoku and return to catching up with my tadarus.

My husband is on Facebook. *horror*
but he doesnt have time to maintain it, so I had to help. *leeerrrrr*

I'm gonna go mandi now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Homemade Naan

It's Saturday and it's weekend for the rest of the world, so I guess it's safe for me to put up a food post, no?

I made my own naan yesterday!! I am so proud of myself!!
I got this recipe book, Malaysian Favourites: Best Recipes from Noted Malaysian Cooks
from Kinokuniya (RM45.90) the last time I went home and had been eyeing the naan recipe ever since. On Thursday I got some leftover thick beef curry from an iftar gathering with the folks from the Malaysian Embassy in Riyadh (where I also met Neeza from Jubayl *grin*), so I finally had an excuse to make some!
In the span of 3 weeks, I had slowly slowly bought the required ingredients - yeast (in small individually wrapped packets so that they don't go dead on me so quickly), ghee, flour (I bought 3 1kg packets in anticipation of having to make lots and lots of prawn fritters) and only yesterday did I ask Taufik to stop by the mini market after friday prayers and buy me a cup of yoghurt.
The recipe wasn't that complicated. I guess the only tough part would be the 15 minutes of kneading it required. With good yeast and good mixing or kneading, however, you will be rewarded with fluffy naan ;)
(Recipe modified a bit from original coz I dont have a kitchen scale).


2 teaspoons dry yeast
250ml lukewarm water (just a little bit more than 1 cup)
4 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons yoghurt
4 tablespoons melted ghee
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups all-purpose flour (I will explain)

In a big bowl, dissolve dry yeast in half of the water. Add sugar, mix well, and set aside for 10 minutes till mixture gets all bubbly and frothy.
Mix in yoghurt, melted ghee, salt and remaining water.
Add in flour into the mixture bit by bit, mixing and eventually kneading until dough forms a stiff ball and does not stick to the bowl or your hands (I used roughly about 3.5 cups at this point). Continue kneading* for 15 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 220 deg C or 440 deg F.
Cover bowl with a clean, dry cloth and let sit in a warm dry corner of your kitchen for about an hour, or till it has doubled in volume.
Divide dough into two, then 4. Divide each quarter into another 4 and form balls (So you eventually get 16 balls).
Flatten each ball with your hands or a rolling pin to form thick discs the size of dessert plates.
Place in the pre-heated oven for 7-10 minutes or till edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven and keep warm under a napkin.

I served my naans with yesterday's thick beef curry and a plain salad of chopped lettuce and chunks of carrots and cucumber. The naan was just slightly sweet, salty and creamy (from the yoghurt i guess) and goes well with the spicy curry.

I am not an expert in kneading, so what I do is fold the dough into itself and push with my knuckles as I go. Repeat until tired.

To simulate the conditions of a brick oven, I used a Pizza Stone (bought at Stokes, Mall of Dhahran for about SR60 or so) and baked my naan on it. Put the stone in a cold oven before pre-heating to avoid cracking. Flour your naan well before placing it on the hot stone (Do not add any oil). The result is a naan with a crunchy crusty bottom, and a soft fluffy top, just the way my children likes it.
The original recipe instructed me to brush the tops of the naans with ghee and sprinkle it with chopped garlic before baking it, but since I didn't want to get any oil on my pizza stone, I omitted that ingredient/step. You can try it if you want.

My only complain is that these naans are really only best eaten while warm. When it's cold it tends to get quite hard and chewy.. :P
Haven't tried reheating yet, coz I didn't have any leftovers. I had some leftover dough though, and have kept it in the freezer for later use. Will tell you how that turns out.

Now, if only I could figure out how to make Shrimp Sizzler, then we wouldn't need to go to Mughal Restaurant anymore...

Happy trying and tell me how yours turn out!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Extremely Easy Peasy Cheese Samosa

It's so easy it's almost like cheating

Really. I mean, the ingredients can be bought ready-made at the stores. All you have to do is wrap them up, then deep fry.
But here's the recipe anyways. I'll add some tips/notes at the end of the recipe just to give this post some substance.

Easy Peasy Cheese Samosas

1 500gram packet of ready made samosa leaves
3 round boxes of cream cheese wedges
Some water for sealing

Cut cheese wedges into half lengthwise (so you get a thinner wedge).
Take a samosa leaf carefully so as not to rip it. Put a halved-wedge at one end at a 45degree angle, fold into a triangle. Keep on folding the triangle until you reach the end of the leaf. Seal the final end by rubbing some water onto the leaf.
Heat some oil for deep frying. Deep fry the samosas until golden, drain on a paper towel. Let cool slightly before serving to avoid burns from hot cheese.
Can be kept in a tupperware in the fridge/freezer for one week.
Makes 48 (4 dozen).

Samosa leaves -
Not all samosa leaves are created equal. Some tend to absorb more oil than others and some has a slightly bitter aftertaste. You've really got to try them out to find one brand that you like. I like 'BintiAlBalad' or something. I fry them in really hot oil. It usually results in ugly blistery samosas, but they're crispy and I'd rather have ugly samosas than soggy ones.

Creamcheese Wedges -
You know which ones I mean, right? They usually come in round boxes and contain 8 individually wrapped cream cheese in foil. Though some brands offer flavoured cream cheese, I found the plain ones work best. The picture above shows what the cheese looks like unwrapped.

Timing -
I make my samosas in advance (a lot of them) and keep them in the fridge till I'm ready to fry them. This keeps the cheese inside it cool and won't seep out when you fry them. (Incidently, also try to fold the triangles as tightly as you can so that you don't have holes).
Fry at least 45 minutes before serving so that the cheese inside has sufficient time to cool down. There is nothing worse than getting your tongue burned by hot cheese.

This is really my children's favourite tit bit for iftar (breaking fast), only second to cucur udang (Prawn fritters). I have to make sure they get at least 4 each. I end up frying 2 dozen per day, so 48 pieces doesn't stay very long in the fridge. :)

Happy trying :)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Panic! not at the dancefloor

Today was my first day as the bus monitor ever since the school year started. It being Ramadhan and me having to wake up at 3am to prepare sahur for everyone and only go back to sleep at 4:15am after fajr prayers made me worry if I could wake up again at 6:15am. On other days, Taufik would be the one waking up the kids and I'd wake up at 6:45 to prepare Anis' lunch box and braid her hair. Today I have to get myself ready as well.
My anxiety had me dreaming that I woke up late, didn't shower or brush my teeth and dragging my kids in their jammies to the bus. So the moment some sunlight seeped through the curtains of my bedroom window, I shot up and checked the time on my handphone. I saw it was 6:45am. 6:45!!! Dayumm my alarm didnt go off!! Or it did and I didnt hear it!! Or maybe I heard it and I switched it off in my sleep!!!
ohmygod ohmy god ohmygod I ran to the kids' rooms and woke them up in a frenzy. "wake up wake up wake up we're late we're late you've gotta get ready for schoool! Anis you just brush your teeth and wash your face and get ready and go down and have breakfast Ilham and Ihsan you have time to shower (coz they are skipping breakfast)". I half-screamed instructions as I myself reached for my toothbrush.
Ilham woke up hair all disheveled looked at the clock with one eye and said "It's okay, we still have time"
"*You* still have time. I have to get ready and then make anis' lunch" I dismissed him , and added "Go go go!! GO brush your teeth!!".
While searching my wardrobe for a decent outfit, Taufik asked me from under his pillow "What are you late for?"
"I'm the bus monitor today, remember.. it's already 6:45!!" I answered.
"It's not. It's 5:45. Cuba tengok jam betul-betul", he said (asking me to look at my watch carefully).
No. Way.
I went to look at my watch and lo and behold.
It *was* 5:45. Not 6:45.
"You guyyyssss...." I grinned sheepishly at the boys who just came out from the shower, "I made a mistake. It's still early.. Sorry!".
God bless my kids, they didn't complain a bit.
They put on their uniforms. Ilham combed his hair then got back in bed. I heard Ihsan turn on the computer. I heard Anis get in the shower and taking her sweet time, then after awhile, I heard her switch on Cartoon Network.
Me, I went back to bed, of course.
Only to be woken up at 6:15 by my alarm.

Monday, September 08, 2008

"I'm Sorry"

When I visited my friend one day, she kept going on and on about her husband's recent overseas trip. He was presenting a paper in a city which she considered to be very romantic and his co-presenter, a lady, went together with him. She couldn't go because she was working. She said she wasn't worried about his fidelity because the lady is married, and my friend knows the lady quite well. She said she wasn't jealous of the lady spending time with her husband, but she kept saying that she imagined him taking pictures of her and her of him, at places where she wished she could visit herself. And she kept asking me "If you were in my shoes, how would you feel?"
Her husband, who is by nature a man of very little words, just kept a straight face throughout the conversation, only letting out a little smile once in a while when Taufik or I would jokingly tease my friend about her 'jealousy'.
She incessantly brought the subject up, as if unsatisfied and searching for something, a right response perhaps.
If her husband had asked me what a right response would have been, I would have told him to say "I'm Sorry".

I know many men would be shaking their heads right about now.
When I was invited to talk about John Grey's "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" on the now defunct morning show when the book celebrated its 10th anniversary, I had told the hosts (mokciknab, Che' Mi and Che' Kem), that the best thing that a man can say to his female partner to foster good relationship is "I'm Sorry". Che' Kem and Che' Mi almost jumped out of their seats and vehemently dissagreed. "But what if you didn't do anything wrong?" Che' Kem argued.

See. There in lies the difference between men and women.

Men sees "I'm Sorry" as apologizing and admitting fault.
Women, on the other hand, sees "I'm Sorry" as apologizing and assuring feelings.

It doesn't really matter who is at fault, when a woman feels hurt, they need someone to validate that feelings, so that they themselves feel validated. They want to hear "Yes, you have the right to feel that way, and I care for you enough to make you feel better". An "I'm Sorry" (especially if it's from the man that made her feel bad in the first place), does exactly that. (It's either that, or an "I know exactly how you feel!!" from another woman, but wouldn't it be better if it came from the man in question?)

Now, if you have a husband that has not read the book (or this post)(or is just plain blurr), how in the world do you get him to say "I'm Sorry"?
It took me quite a few years to learn to do this : Just ask for it.
Before I learned how to ask, all I did was seethe and pout and feel miserable. Then I picked up the courage to just say, "look, all I wanted to say is my feelings are hurt (or I dont feel loved) by (whatever), and what would make me feel loved now is an I'm Sorry from you".
You'd be suprised as to how quick you'd get that "I'm Sorry".

Try it, and tell me if your relationship doesn't get better :)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I want to watch this

I want to watch this, but I'm not a resident of the U.S. or Canada.

How now brown cow?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Easy Peasy Nasi Tomato

We had bought a leg of lamb on Thursday and I had marinated it that very afternoon, not remembering that it was my birthday the next day. Ninuk reminded me by asking if it was for my birthday dinner, and I was wracking my brain for ideas of what to eat the lamb with, when Rozanne, in her birthday wish for me on TheBookOfFace, asked me for the recipe for Nasi Tomato. Lightbulbs went off, Nasi Tomato and Roast Lamb it is! I also decided to make some pajeri nenas to provide the obligatory kuah (gravy) for any rice dish we have in this family.

So this post is not only to show off tell you about what I had for my birthday iftar, but to also share with you (especially Rozanne) my recipe for an easy peasy nasi tomato (tomato rice).
My version of tomato rice does not use ghee or evaporated milk because I don't like it when my rice is too rich. Some recipes also use pandan (screwpine) leaves to add aroma, but since it's quite difficult to find that here, I also omitted that out. The result is a very light but tasty tomato rice, that went very well with lamb and pajeri nenas (a sweet, thick, pineapple curry).

Easy Peasy Nasi Tomato (Tomato Rice)

2 cups rice (washed and drained)
Enough water to cook rice*
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cube chicken stock OR salt to taste
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion chopped fine
2 cloves garlic sliced very fine (mayang)
one 2inch cinnamon stick (kulit kayu manis)
one star annise (bunga lawang)
2 cardammom pods (buah pelaga)

In your rice pot, mix rice, water, tomato paste, sugar and stock/salt.
In a seperate frying pan, heat up oil and saute onions, garlic and spices till onions are slightly brown and spices are fragrant.
Transfer fried ingredients into the rice pot, stir to mix well and let rice cook as usual**
When rice is done, garnish with roasted almonds/cashews, crispy shallots and chopped coriander.
Can served with most curry dishes, chicken in red sauce, pajeri nenas, mixed salad or any type of acar (mixed vegetables in a simple vinegar+sugar dressing)
Serves 4 adults comfortably.

* I used the normal thai rice, but you may use basmathi rice if you prefer, so the amount of water required may vary. I am old fashioned and still use my finger to measure my water so cant really tell how much I actually used.
** I still cook my rice on the stove, so usually I let it boil on high uncovered until the water level recedes to the very surface of the rice, reduce the heat to low, give it a good stir, then cover the pot. I let it steam itself for about another 10 minutes then check if the rice is done by taking a few grains and pressing it in between my fingers. If it's thoroughly tender, then it's done, and you can take it off the heat. Electric rice cookers tend to undercook any type of rice dish that has tomatoes or milk in them, so if you're using one to prepare this dish, check often and keep switching on the cooker till your rice is done.

Links to related recipes:
Pajeri Nenas
Kid-Friendly Ayam Masak Merah (Not spicy Chicken in Red Sauce)

Happy trying, and don't forget to tell me how yours turn out!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Wishing Space

Here's a space, just in case you want to wish me anything today ;)
I'm just humbled to still be alive and still be a practicing muslim.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Famous Ahy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Eversince rotikacangmerah promoted her brother's cookies on her bloglast year, I had been drooling over these cookies. Reading her describe it, (and she does have a way with describing good food), you get the impression that it's the best chocolate chip cookie in the world.

So, when I was back home for the holiday,I decided to order some to bring back to Saudi. 'Some' is an understatement. Ahy said one 'batch' yield about 8 packs, with each pack containing 50 cookies. That's 400 cookies, ladies and gentlemen, and I ordered them ALLLLLLLL.

The very moment Ahy passed me the cookies in IK3A, we (Dory, to be exact) had opened one tupperware right there and then, next to the pine shelves. The aroma that wafted out once the lid was pried open (we were that gelojoh) was a telling preview of the chocolatey goodness we were about to taste.
The moment I bit into one, I had to agree with rotikacangmerah, it was one of the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.
The cookie had crunch, it had the slightly chewy oat bits, and it had the gooey chocolate chip bits. It wasn't too sweet, yet sweet enough, just the way I like it.
My only complain is that they were small, and it made it too easy to eat!!
Ahy had put the cookies in 2 huge tupperwares, and 2 days after I opened the one tupperware, that huge tub was empty!

That was why it took me awhile to put this post up. I had hesitated for a loooong time from breaking the seal of the last remaining tub of cookies. I knew, once I opened it, I (or the kids) would be tempted to eat it. I finally opened it coz it is impossible to tell you about how yummy they are without showing you how yummy they look.
Even Izani couldn't help drooling over the cookies while I was taking pictures. I was so scared that he would jump all over the cookies, but fortunately he did not. He did ask "I want, cooties, please?" over and over again, though.
For his patience, Izani was finally rewarded with some ;)

Ahy is accepting orders for Eid, so if you're interested to try some of these delicious cookies, do give him a call at 012 314 2353 , or email him at
If you cant reach him there, also try emailing

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

1st Ramadhan

Yesterday was the first day of Ramadhan.
Ilham and Ihsan woke up for sahur, and they were quite okay even though we kept having to prod them to eat and not sleep at the dinner table. After awhile they were awake enough to finish their food and have some tea. We went over the 'rules' for fasting, what they can and cannot do. I told them to try their very best at controlling their desire to eat/drink. This is after all, the ultimate test against yourself. I also reminded them that fasting is not an excuse not to participate in school activities. Just make sure you eat right during sahur and do not over-exert yourself during play time, and you'll be fine.
We prayed fajr together, and they went back to sleep.
I had to drag myself out of bed at 6:15am to wake Anis up first, coz she's the only who needs to have breakfast, and only woke the boys up 15 minutes later. They were so happy they got extra sleep time coz they don't need to have breakfast. Ilham yippeed that his schoolbag is lighter without his lunchbox. (And I yippeeed coz I only had to prepare one lunchbox!)

The kids came home in good spirits. Ilham and Ihsan were tired, but they were proud of themselves for surviving. Ihsan was happy he could hang out at the sand dome playing card games with the other fasting kids during lunch break. Ilham asked me if he batal puasa if he killed an ant. Ihsan said he almost drank some water but remembered that he was fasting.
Reminds me of how grown up they've become. I remember a time when Ilham would reply "Ilham tak kuasa" while sucking on his milk bottle when I ask him if he was fasting.

I had wanted to go grocery shopping with the bus, but I had a cold so I scrapped that plan. That decision left me in quite a dilemma : I had wanted to make prawn fritters but had no prawns. How now brown cow.
After procastinating by playing sudoku and watching Monsters Inc over and over again with Izani, I decided to take a walk to the mini market and get me some frozen prawns. It's not as good as the fresh ones (frozen prawns tend to shrink and become tough when cooked), but it'll do.
Ihsan helped me pound dried shrimp, Ilham helped me make air sirap, and Anis was the official taster. Ilham helped me decide on making chicken rice for iftar, coz my brain was dead.
So that's what we had for the first iftar of the year - sub-standard prawn fritters, and chicken rice.
I have NO idea what to cook today :P

On the taddarus front, due to my annoying cold, I only managed to muster 23 ayats of Al-Baqarah in between frying up fritters. Shameful. I hope I'll do better today.

How was your first day?