Aug 31, 2011

4 A Merdeka of Sorts

She called me in. Her fragile hand reached for mine. It's day three in the ICU but today, she worked up a smile for my benefit. I caught a glimpse of her old cheerful self.

She struggled to speak through the tube in her throat. I listen intently, I was captivated. I couldn't make out the words but that's alright. 

This is one Merdeka Day I'll cherish, not for the fireworks display..

A Happy Merdeka Day - the flag goes up

Aug 20, 2011

2 Baked Apple Chicken

An apple a day keeps the Doctor away, so they say. And I've plenty from generous friends who visited my aunt, who has been staying with us for the past two weeks. Red scrumptious apples sure to delight even the fairest of them all, Snow White.

Snow White would fall for this - non poisonous!

Some were eaten raw and some I baked. It was hard to resist. I thought I could stay away from my oven but it was too convenient to ignore. While I stir-fry a dish of bitter gourd and cook the rice in one corner, the oven takes care of our meaty protein intake. How's that for a balanced diet?

I didn't plan very much on the hows of cooking this dish. Simplicity seemed best on this rainy day. I just added in whatever I thought would compliment the taste of apples and add to the juiciness. Hence, onions was a logical choice over garlic. 

I guess I could have added carrots if I felt I wanted some colour, but not today. This suits my mood!

Lightly sweet and savoury, this is a wholesome dish that's easy to make. Just three main ingredients and you're on your way.

Baked apple chicken makes healthy soup

Yum yum.. look at that juice

Oh, so tender - Onions, apples and chicken!

The rough guide.

- 4 pcs chicken drumstick
(slice 2 lines across like in the photo above - cooks faster and to get the juice in)
- 1 large onion (sliced thick)
- 2 red apples (remove skin, cut into cubes)
- 1/2 tsp red sugar
- A pinch of salt and pepper (or to taste)
- Coriander leaves for garnishing

1) Marinate chicken and apples with red sugar, salt and pepper for 5 minutes or so.
2) Preheat oven and line baking tray with foil.
3) Place marinated chicken and apples onto baking tray. Sprinkle onions on top. 
4) Cover with foil and bake for about an 1 hour 15 minutes at 230C, until the chicken is tender.
5) Remove from oven and be careful when lifting the foil open. Hot steam will gush out. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice.

Aug 18, 2011

0 A beacon of light at Beacon Hospital?

Hospitals, my aunt hates them. She's been to four different ones, all in a span of two weeks.Travelling from East to West and all the way to Singapore. The answer was always the same, almost. 

No, not the same. He, of great Singapore, was important and blunt. She, the popular one, seated in the air-conditioned office of a well reputed local hospital,  was rushed and treated us like flies to be swatted away quickly. The one in the East was humble and concerned but he did not have our trust. It was not because he was incapable, we were just stuck on a belief brought on by word of mouth that the West was always a better bet. They all cost a bomb, these oncologists, RM150 or more per visit.

Then, we chanced upon an ad in The Star newspaper - Cyberknife New Hope for Cancer Treatment. We made our way to Beacon Hospital, fervently praying for a breakthrough. We were tired. 

A middle aged nurse with a cheerful disposition greeted us. She was like the solid rock we needed to keep distressing thoughts at bay. Quick in her actions, an obvious go-getter type. My spirits lifted a little as I admired her show of energy.

The nurse took my aunt in to see Dr. Manivannan. I think that is his name. I was too distracted..

There was a firmness in her eyes as my aunt walked out of the oncologist's room. A satisfied smile, not one of victory but one that says, "she understood". While it was explained that the Cyberknife treatment could not be option for my aunt's case, this Doctor had been kind enough to spare some additional time to attend to my aunts queries and insecurities. What had been a question mark hanging above our heads was now clear, the whys and the whats, in layman terms. We left paying a mere RM60 for consultation.

Though we were no nearer to our desired goal, which is just to have a fifty-percent chance, we left not too disappointed.

Flyers I took from Beacon Hospital

Aug 16, 2011

2 Ginseng Revitalising & Moisturising Bath

Think about "ginseng" and the first word that comes to mind is "revitalising". Perhaps a good distraction would help me pocket some of the feeling of anxiety that has recently engulfed my heart.

I took my dearly loved aunt to Desa Parkcity recently for a breath of fresh air and to shop for some groceries. It has been close to two weeks since she was diagnosed with Stage 4, stomach cancer. My ten days have been spent learning much about the disease, but getting nowhere in the end. I was as confused as I was when I began.

A breather, does that really help? I found small respite in the form of an unusual bath gel we found at MaxValue. The 600ml bottle of gel costs RM18.99. Value for money? I can't tell, I've not tried it. Maybe it's value is greater than that of money since it offered my mind an escape route.

I'm calmer today and have removed the angry rant I had posted earlier. I feel remorseful over my lapse in good manners and I need to be stronger for my aunt's sake.

Neat, huh? A piece of Korean ginseng root

o'Naomi revitalising and moisturising bath

With the Malaysian flag in the background

Aug 14, 2011

0 The Long Journey Begins..

Frustration, nothing but a bane to positive chi. It's been 14 days. A cure? So near, yet so far. What stage are we - seek and you shall find.

We are still seeking. We pray for a find and hope it will be soon. She weakens by the day from a soft diet. I watch her pale, boney hand reach out to give me a high five, a sign between us that "We can pull through this together".

While we scour the hospitals for a miracle, she has dedicated her days towards alternative treatment. A week goes by, the PET scan shows only what was and still is. This is a test, I know it. Mayhaps a bit more time.

We place our faith still in Sabah Snake Grass for the moment. Will this be our miracle cure? I pray it is.

Sabah Snake Grass

In the blender with slices of apple and iced water

Are we ready?

There she goes..!

A herbal cure, a hope

Aug 6, 2011

2 Bovril Chicken Liver and Heart with Carrots, Mushrooms and Potatoes

Chicken parts like the liver and heart has never appealed to me, not in any meal, and although I enjoyed this dish, my sentiments have not changed. My partner was quick to rave about it ..a fan of liver, that he is.

Bovril is just another brand that's been in the family for years. Everytime I looked into Mom's kitchen cabinet, it was there. Something handy to appease the kids during mealtime. She would boil us some porridge and add a spoonful of Bovril into it. We would finish our bowl quietly.

I've always wondered why we've never used it in our cooking. So, I decided to experiment it on a dish of 'other' chicken parts. It turned out quite tasty - rich in flavours. But which cook wouldn't praise her own cooking.

Soft baby carrots, tender potatoes and mushrooms..yums!

Can't say much about the liver, but the heart was a "thumbs-up"

- 400g chicken heart and liver
- 10 baby carrots (mini-peeled carrots), cut into bite sized pieces 
- 5 big button mushroom (canned), sliced
- 1 potato, cut into small cubes
- 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
- 1 tbsp Bovril (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp red sugar
- 1/3 tsp thick dark soy sauce (just for the colour)
- 1 tsp corn flour in enough water, to be stirred (slightly watery)
- Pinch of pepper

1) Heat oil in wok. Add garlic, stir fry until lightly brown.

2) Add baby carrots, potatos and a bit of water. Cover and leave to simmer.

3) Once the carrot and potatoes are cooked tender, add mushrooms, chicken liver and heart.

4) Stir in Bovril (to taste), red sugar and pepper. Add a bit of thick soy sauce to darken the colour a little (be careful about not overdoing this, don't want the dish to get too salty). You can choose to leave out dark soy sauce altogether.

5) Stir and let it cook, but don't let the dish get too dry as you want some gravy to remain. Add water if this happens.

6) Once the meat is cooked, add cornflour. Give is a quick stir to thicken the sauce and serve.

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