Dec 30, 2011

4 A Christmas Eve Special

Festive themes are my favourite. I put in the effort because of my love for variety. It is the spice of life, they say.

Christmas Eve arrived. I stoked myself up to surprise everyone with a warm hearty meal. On the menu? Fried rice...*pause*, baked chicken and pumpkin soup.

When food was served, it became an affair for the paparazzis at home, including me. Clicking and clicking away on my little digital camera until the food was no longer piping hot. Well, that's a silly thing to do..

The table is set

Christmas, Asian style!

Baked 4 chicken drumsticks with tomatoes and potatoes

A special dish for Aunt Em

The day ends with good fruity wine

Dec 24, 2011

2 They have a HOME?

Citizens of  the less
What do  they possess
Certainly not a prestigious address!

Some become squatters
Others are low-cost apartment dwellers
Those on the streets? They’re homeless beggars

We’ll give you a 100% loan
We, the Government, we listen to your moan
The poor?…. They groan

Expensive apartments are constructed
Million dollar bungalows are mooted
What’s there for the lower income bracket?

“Material costs are high!”
Developers cry
Their crocodile tears never dry

Home is where the heart is
But how can it be this?
Broken lifts, cramped conditions and graffitis..

~ Sharon D. @ 24 December 2011

Dec 23, 2011

5 A night with Martin Yan, courtesy of a friend

Martin Yan brought True Passion to our shores recently. A night at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with wine from Jacob's Creek. How did I get in? Through Meri, who's currently holding the good luck charm. She won an entry to the exclusive event from a contest organised by AFC channel.

Chef Martin Yan - he's not drunk. That's just my camera.
Wine's always been a drink that I associate with the words "acquired taste". It isn't something that would easily storm my taste buds into awe, like Coke or Ice Lemon Tea.

This dinner event was certainly an eye-opener, wine-wise. My enthusiasm for it heightens with each passing day, particularly Jacob's Creek's Sparkling Rose - this would make a delectable gift if anyone cares to get me one as a Christmas ..ahem. I am so, SO inspired to buy a bottle myself to toast the New Year in. That's a LOL moment in my books if my friends, who know me well, hear of this.

The 6-course meal was served as Chef Martin Yan regaled us with stories of his cooking experiences and showed us his mad chopping skills. It was a rich and delicious offering which I am more accustomed to seeing on TV and comes paired with an excellent selection of wine.

Photos of "sustenance", as Thor would put it..

The wine

Oven Baked Sea Treasure Broth (Chef Ricky Thein)

Cantonese Stle Steamed Cod Fish (Chef Ricky Thein)

Peking Sweet and Sour Prawns (Chef Martin Yan)

Australian Lamb Cutlets, 3 chili sauce (Chef Martin Yan)


Sweet Temptations (Chef Holger Deh)

Before we left, Martin Yan left us a souvenir in the form of photos and a personally signed thank you letter.

Me and Martin Yan

Thank You!

What's in the goodie bag

Dec 8, 2011

2 Marché Restaurant and Lin

Lin buzzed me on Facebook.

"Hey, I wanna go to that market place you wanted to bring me"


And this was like for the hundredth time. I had promised to take Lin there but every time the opportunity came up, we'd already stuffed ourselves full from a heavy breakfast or from some in-between snacking. Typical of both of us. We enjoy good food with a dose of hometown gossip.

We finally made it to Marché after what seemed like ages. 

"Eh, have you ever eaten snails?" Lin asked, not really caring for an answer.

A wave of trepidation washed over me as I answered her with a cautious no. But there she was, nicely piling the bowl up, making sure she maximized every inch of space available. I could only stand and watch in admiration at her enthusiasm.

The first thing we did, as we settled down on our table, was to try out the snail sausage salad. I had imagined it to be chewy and something-pretty-nasty... but it was exactly the opposite. I'm sorry I doubted it's deliciousness based on it's name and what I know it to be.

Our taste buds were further excited with one slurp of pumpkin soup, so rich and creamy  that it was a dream come true.

Then, came pizza and dessert, which did not disappoint either. Maybe we're just greedy..

Anyway, check out our spread.

Snail sausage salad

This snail sausage salad up close!

Pizza

Pumpkin soup

Yummy desserts

Market-like set-up

He's preparing our fresh juice

Nov 24, 2011

0 StART FM (Flea Market) Charity Bazaar

Meri's always passionate when sharing about her experiences in Bentong Farm Sanctuary. I've never been there but the animated expression of her face and voice excited me enough to find out more.

She showed me photos which spoke of that lovin' feeling. What they do is amazing. It's a place where animals can truly call "home", a no-kill sanctuary. Dogs, goats, cows, ducks and many other animals roam free. Their medical needs and food are taken care of. They get lots of TLC from the keeper and volunteers of the farm.

A stream where you can dip your toes in, green trees which dance to the call of the wind, hilly paths with furry friends. That's what I call inner peace.

As it is, there's a charity bazaar being held this Saturday to raise funds for the sanctuary, which is in dire need. Be there, because you care

Flyer taken from StART's Facebook Event's page

Check out the details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/158900090872472

Nov 20, 2011

0 The stars shine on Seri Pilmoor, Ara Damansara

Beyond my means, but not beyond jaw-dropping admiration.

The year is almost at an end. I'm still scouting for that perfect home. I believe I've found it many times and would have signed on the dot if it weren't so costly. The price tag on these properties are downright illogical these days, especially in mediocre salaried Malaysia. I would not stretch the Ringgit in present conditions.

Seri Pilmoor is built on one of the last vestiges of freehold land, located in the highly sought after address that is Petaling Jaya. It's one of the most exciting places I've been to.

Lin drove us to Ara Damansara in search of this hidden jewel. She's my BFF, also ardent snooper of new neighbourhoods. I heart her for the adventure she invokes in us.

We drove into an open parking lot some distance away from the show unit, after registering our details at the security booth.

A sense of joy and wonder washed over me as I took in the luscious greens and unusual steel walkways above our heads. It was different. I cannot explain the joy that fills my heart so suddenly, as sudden as the sun shines after the rain. There was a pool and beside it, an odd structure of a building furnished with beautifully carved wooden furniture. Artsy? Yes, but not overly.



 A down-to-earth Saleslady welcomed us. We were left to explore the huge bungalow show unit. There was an element of trust and keenness to please in her eyes that made our visit a pleasurable experience. She attended to our questions without judging our ability to afford the place. 

"Now here's a perfect example of someone every other Developer should think of hiring", I enthused, keeping the thought to myself.

Sime Darby has certainly put an edge into the design of these bungalows. These beauties are priced from RM4.9mil onwards and already it looks the part of a prestigious neighbourhood that could dethrone the likes of Desa ParkCity and the overdeveloped Mont Kiara. Primed for exclusivity, it's a surefire hit for those craving to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

I love the finishing touches and the overall look of the place. There are brick walls separating each unit from the neighbouring unit, but it is not entirely enclosed. An open concept that promotes neighbourliness. 

Maintenance fees are an estimated RM1k per month.

I leave starry-eyed.....

Work in Progress - Oct 2011 (65%)

A close-up

The facade

Solid front door

Love this idea (upper floor has a great view of the lower floor)

Dining area

Bedroom
Living room

Another favourite, an open air top floor

Nov 13, 2011

0 Stir Fried Beef - Venturing into Vegemite

"Eh, this one also can-lar", I convinced my Unc with gusto. It was hard to ignore, the I'm-ready-for-something-new look on my lightly made-up face, accompanied with a grin.

We were supposed to get Marmite for Aunt Em, but I thought we should expand her food variety a little. That's how I landed myself with a whole jar of Vegemite ...uhuh, Aunt Em didn't like it one bit. No doubt producers of Marmite would thrill over this news - Vegemite, not so mite-y after all.

Vegemite
It dawned on me that I was holding a jar of something I myself had never tried in my life. At first glance, it looked like rat glue. I wasn't ecstatic about the scent either. 

Can't possibly donate this to someone else now, could I? It seemed like an impolite thing to do. It seemed like what a spoilt brat would do.

So, I did the only thing I could think of (because it was brown..is that even logical??). I got down to including it into any dish which uses soy sauce as a key flavour.  Vegemite makes a great replacement. I can now testify to that after experimenting with a couple of dishes.

Here's one of my lip-smacking discovery:


Tender, tender

You ARE messy. Clean the sides!

Recipe? Roughly..


Ingredients:
- 3/4 thumb sized ginger (thinly sliced)
- 200g beef fillet (thinly sliced, otherwise cook longer until tender)
-  5 baby carrots (cut bite sized)
- 2 sprigs Spring onions (sliced into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 tsp cornflour (mix with a bit water in a bowl)

- 3/4 tsp Vegemite
- A weeee bit of dark soy sauce for colour
- A pinch of salt and pepper, to taste- A dash of Worcestershire sauce for zing

Todo:
- Heat wok with a bit of oil. Stir fry ginger. 
- Add sliced beef and carrots. 
- Stir, stir, stir, add pinch of salt and pepper. A dash of Worcestershire sauce here and there and finally a teaspoon of Vegemite and that weeee bit of dark soy sauce
- Add water and let it simmer, covered, until meat is tender. 
- Finally, pour in a bit of cornflour. Stir quickly.
- Switch off the heat. Throw in two sprigs of crunchy fresh spring onions (chopped into 1inch sizes). Stir and serve immediately.

Nov 11, 2011

0 A new friend - White Snake's concert

A blessing. Meri offered us a pair of White Snake concert tickets which she'd won in a contest.

I've never met Meri in person before, but we clicked on Facebook and have had countless humorous conversations. She was like the rainbow that cheers the world up after gloomy weather.

We met for the first time that day, 30th October 2011. Let it be written.

I had an awesome time at White Snake's concert. The crowd was noticeably older. A comfortable feeling washed over me. No shrieking teens and unruly behaviour. It was more proper but no less energetic. Everything was just peachy and then it had to happen.

The occasional stench wafted up our noses but we couldn't find the source for sure. We guessed. Body odour, it was dizzily nauseating. Occasionally, I wrinkled my nose as though that would make it go away.  Good thing White Snake put on a solid performance that distracted my mind from focusing too much on it.

David Coverdale, the lead singer, has such charismatic stage presence, I could not help but be lulled into a fan-like trance. My hands were raised in adulation. Here's a short snippet of his performance:



Some photos I took:

Apa khabar!

Is this love..

Hot guitarist

The Stage

Opening Act, Ella was awesome as well

Nov 10, 2011

2 Aunt Aggie drops in to sprinkle some sunshine


A surprise visit! Aunt Aggie flew down. I'm thrilled. She's planned a secret Birthday party for Hubs and sent me a card with a private message ages ago, warning me of her impending arrival. That was a hint to arrange the party.

I've been too busy, of course. Aunt Em has been hospitalised again and this time, indefinitely. The time just went and things were done impromptu.

On one of the days, I took Aunt Aggie out to sight-see. We plopped ourselves onto a comfortable chair in Papparich after a long shopping session in Ikea. We didn't buy much. We just love looking at "stuff". Ikea products intrigue us. It was the land of imagination where homes were made from dreams.

We had a light snack. I was in the mood for something visually exciting and ordered the egg pudding in tau foo fah. I wouldn't say it was exceptionally great, but it was good enough for me to polish off the stemmed glass bowl.

A day I enjoyed. The Birthday party? Oh, that'll be in another write-up.

Egg Pudding + Tau Foo Fah

Nov 3, 2011

0 When..

Two months pass. The bed has been her closest friend, providing comfort none of us could give. Comfort that is detrimental to her well-being. Her muscles are weakening from the lack of activity.

Aunt Em's in the hospital again. She had been reluctant to leave the house for so long, but was forced to when she could no longer withstand the pain that has been plaguing her in the wee hours of the morning. The lack of sleep was disrupting her mood and appetite.

She cries silently in the chill of the night and prays fervently for a miracle. I am powerless to help her. I spout words of encouragement but it seems hollow when it is so easily spoken since I am not the sufferer.

Its been days, emotionless machines monitor her vital stats. A drip is inserted into the wrinkled flesh of her bone-thin hand. We wait...for good news to arrive.

When will we reach the T junction that gives us at least options, to proceed. The road is dimly lit? Can it get no brighter?

Oct 18, 2011

3 Papaya Fest - Baked Fish and an Ice-Blended Smoothie

"Whoaa..that's one big papaya!"

The papaya, eaten over many days

Two days went by. The papaya sits on my kitchen table, untouched by human hands (eeww..I saw a baby cockroach making itself at home on the skin of the papaya). I am glad this fruit does not have the traits of the annoying orange. I would have been driven to chop it to pieces immediately and gulp it all down. It bodes ill for my expanding waistline. I am, of course, talking nonsense.

I was only moved to do something about the papaya when it started to rot (you lazy bum!). Waste not, mom would have advised if she were here.

So I baked it (Just knew I couldn't stay away from an oven dish....the convenience).

That's right, just plonk it into the oven

Orange you bright?
The rough guide.

Ingredients:

- 1/4 papaya (chopped into medium pieces)
- 2 slices of fish
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
- Salt and pepper

Todo:

1) Rub salt, pepper and garlic onto fish. Leave aside for 10 minutes, while you preheat the oven.
2) Blend papaya pieces with a pinch of salt and pepper. Leave sauce aside for later use.
3) Line baking tray with foil. Glaze with oil.

4) Place fish on top and bake for about 10 minutes in preheated oven at 170c.
5) Remove from oven and quickly pour blended papaya sauce over the fish. Bake again for another 10 minutes or so. Not too long, so that it doesn't dry out.


Tastewise, slightly sweet salty, garlicky..yums (When has it ever not been "yums").

I had plenty of the fruit leftover. So I ice-blended it ..papaya, ice cubes and a lil bit of honey (if you like).

Ice cool smoothie

Oct 12, 2011

0 The Attractions - Felda Residence Hot Springs, Sungkai

I heart this place. See?












Err...and all that's in it .. ?



Hot water fountains? Sssssmokin'!

Man-made

I wouldn't test the waters if I were you

Mmm..where does this bridge lead to?

An escape route

There are warning signs along the way.

It's a river of natural HOT water and there are spots
where it bubbles..danger, danger

Stay safe, stay on the bridge
Stop here for a natural sauna experience

Off the bridge!

Picnic tables!
Tap water in the great outdoors

Tree planting is encouraged

Mmm.. I'm hungry. Boiled eggs, anyone?


Haaa?! No more eggs!!

Whose eggs are these? May I have it, pretty please?

There are other stalls (they don't open so early)
Laksa and...mmm..I didn't really notice

I'm going for a dip now. Tata!

The hot water pool

Gotta ease myself into this one. Woo..it's hot!

The cold water pool. Fun.
I'm hot, then I'm cold.
 

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