Nov 25, 2012

0 And that's a Wrap! Sardine Wrap, Beef Potatoes Wrap

I spent the last couple of weeks exploring food wraps to add a little variety into our meals.

Mission's onion and chives has great texture and is scrumptious to bite into. This is now my favourite...but of course, I've only tried two brands and two flavours so I guess I can't be giving a very reliable opinion. Carrefour's garlic tortillas wasn't to my liking. I found it a little dry and floury. The edges break easily.

The one thing I really like about wraps is that is has a longer shelf life than bread, lasting into a couple of months before the printed expiry date. That gives me more time to do something with it and less the tendency to think about bread puddings.

Whenever I have in hand a loaf of bread that's reaching its due date, the only thing that pops into my mind is - "Bread Pudding". It scorns my creative side..I mean, is that the only thing I know of expired bread?

Anyway, here's my version of a sardine wrap. It's the quickest meal I've ever made. Just coral lettuce and sardine in chilli and olive oil wrapped together. Baked in the oven for a minute and tadaaa! I have a love for food with gravy so I did drizzle a bit of that chilli oil over my wrap.

Sardine Wrap

The mission? Wrap everything!

Yummy Sardine in Olive Oil and Chilli

The sardine wrap project is in progress

Heating it in the oven for just a minute

Well, that was easy but this one took a bit more time. I cooked some sort of minced beef and potatoes filling with sweet soy sauce in a wok. It has chopped garlic, chilli and mushrooms. I threw in a pinch of salt and pepper...out of habit. The gravy was thickened with a bit of cornflour.

It's not obvious in the photo but I have added coral lettuce into this wrap too.

Another great combination! Yummy, I say..and makes a hearty meal.

And that, folks, is a wrap on my wrap adventure in the kitchen!

Minced Beef and Potatoes

Nov 21, 2012

0 What's In A Name..

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet.." ~ Shakespeare

That sums it up perfectly. A flower blooms amongst my green leafy plants but I do not know its name. I've googled, I've asked people outside the world of my computer. The answer eludes me like does that soft feather that floats lightly in the wind.

I ask myself, "Does it matter then?"

I appreciate its beauty nonetheless. Perhaps it will be wise to spend more time valuing the joy it brings than run around searching for its identity!

Nov 18, 2012

0 Of Birthdays ~ By The 4th Decade...

Birthdays were a big hoo-ha in my younger days and it was celebrated with family including cousins, aunts and uncles. We've had Superchook the KFC mascot over, ribbon cutting ceremonies, those prank candles that couldn't be blown out, silly party games and many more.

These days, it's more of a romantic couple thing - just the two of us, hubby and I, taking in the moment in quiet reflection. Is this a middle-age thing? I cannot tell. But I feel that we're closer than ever and perhaps even at peace with who we've become today.

Hubby turned another year older, just. Instead of spending the night out in some fancy restaurant, I made him dinner at home and got him his favourite treat, which is popcorn, as a present.

He loves GSC Cinema's popcorn but I decided that it wouldn't do for such a special occasion so I went a step further by introducing him to Planet Popcorn, the gourmet version. Since I bought two flavours, I wrapped them separately and gave one at midnight and another during dinner. Boy, was he thrilled.

We took our time to enjoy the meal, reminisced the year that went by, embraced the tradition of having red eggs.

Before we flew the coop, it was our mothers who prepared the traditional two hard boiled red eggs on our Birthdays. It is a symbol for wishing good fortune upon us. The practice was left behind when we started leading independent lives away from home. This year, I picked up the mantle. Tradition cannot just end with us, I thought.

Some photos of, our  special day..
Roasted Chicken for Dinner, Red Eggs and A Gift
Eggs for Prosperity

Fresh from the Oven, Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

With Roasted Kiwi and Snow Peas added in

The Present in Caramel Sweetness!

Nov 16, 2012

0 Holiday Inn Melaka - Where Smiling Is Second Nature

Holiday Inn Melaka

Here I was thinking that it was "just another hotel". I do not know if it is like this every other day but I was blessed with a rather good weekend stay at Holiday Inn Melaka during the Merdeka holidays.

Wherever I ventured, with less than a stunning smile, there were cheerful greetings of "good mornings" and "can I help you, ma'am?" to give my lips the boost it needed for a lovely curve. It was surreal. I wasn't used to it. You could say they opened my eyes to the possibility that this level of customer service, though mostly a question mark where I live, is not a hopeless dream.

Oh, and I absolutely love the pool area. It opens up to the big blue sky. Imagine me and my bestie on a big round dull neon pink swimming float bobbing lightly on the small calm waves of the pool, holding some fizzy drink in hand served in a wine glass for humorous class, guffawing over the silliest things.

At Holiday Inn Melaka, they tell you to take it SLOW. Just a signboard I saw on my way out of the parking lot. Stop and smell the roses? I could not find the stop sign anywhere but I was silly enough to try looking for one on my holiday. Aaah, they've succeeded in bringing out the child in me.

On a more serious note, they have ample parking bays for stay-in and banquet guests. Several security personnel can be seen patrolling the area regularly. Lower ground parking is bright and open. Like!

Kiwi Cupcakes
On Saturdays, guests are treated to cupcakes. These are the most scrumptious cupcakes I have ever tasted and the recipe remains a guarded secret. I have asked for it without results. I've even tried cajoling. The only way I can get my hands on it is to volunteer to be their kitchen help for a weekend ...I think, but I am terrible at putting up fronts. They will know I'm a cupcake spy!

Deluxe Room
I really should focus my thoughts on the room and less on that yummy, delicious, mouth-watering, to-die-for cupcake. It is warm and inviting...the room, I mean.

Rooms with large windows give me the feeling that I'm lounging outdoors. I love the idea of not being confined to staring at four walls. There are a lot of things that excite me about this room. For one, I was sad to leave behind the smooth, cool pillows that came with...*sigh*

Neat, we get to choose pillows
I opted for a room facing the Straits of Melaka. My fond attachment to all things with a wide expanse of blue and green is a costly affair. A room with a view always costs a little more..

Breathtaking isn't it?

Reflecting on beautiful clouds
Taken half an hour later. The cloud formation has changed. The sun is hotter.

The bathroom is ok-lah (nothing unique) - simple enough for a good shower.

I wish they had gone a little further by throwing in a bottle of bubble bath soap.

I would have liked a soak in the tub for an hour or so before bedtime. After a full day out in the sun, it would have been heavenly.

That said, the bathroom is sparkling clean and smells as fresh as the morning air. There were plenty of stain free towels to keep me happy.
Other amenities include an iron with ironing board, slippers, bathrobe, some wardrobe hangers, an electric kettle, a weighing scale which I avoided and a safe.

I think they've got us, the guests, pretty much covered comfort-wise.

Other facilities:

The Spa

Sirocco Restaurant
This is the reception area. The staff thoughtfully gave me a map upon check in. It came in very handy and I used it a lot to get around. The discount vouchers are a bonus.  

Lobby full of happy people
A Melaka Map with Discount Coupons - Very useful!

I enjoyed my stay tremendously thanks to their amazing attention to the little details. As Arnold Schwarzenegger says it - I'll be back!

Nov 14, 2012

0 A Whiff Of Freshness For The Bathroom

....and I discovered it quite by being inquisitive.

I've this habit of testing out cheaper brands to see if I can replace pricier items at home to save on grocery shopping.

Sometimes I get a good hit, sometimes I just "gotta suck it in" and keep it until I figure out what to do with it, like this mouth rinse I purchased. The label reads 18% alcohol. I could get drunk on this I think.

I soon discovered that it was made of stuff built to destroy the toughest "meanies" on our gums. I do not doubt its effectiveness and would have gladly added it onto my monthly shopping list but I couldn't endure the burning that came immediate. If I cannot stand it, logic tells me that nothing having made a cosy home in my mouth can.

I was staring at the bottle of sky blue liquid and I thought..

"You look like you could kill an army of germs with just a drop.."

So I poured a couple of dashes into my white toilet bowl. My oh my, I have to say it IS the Febreeze for bathrooms. If there was any unfavourable scent lingering before, it was all gone. The whole place smelled like a breath of fresh air.

Dark bathroom secret revealed ~ Every time I have visitors coming over, I pour some of this mouth rinse into the bowl. The scent lasts into the next hour, until someone flushes of course. It works better than air fresheners. Mmm..I wonder if other mouthwashes are as effective ...

Nov 11, 2012

2 Defining Success

Is it about that highly paid job
Locked in a tiny cubicle with my freedom robbed?
Dressed in short unbreathable pencil skirts
Yet crying foul of the office flirts
Pouring through mounds of paperwork
But insisting, “I’m an executive, not a clerk!”
Composing grammatically correct emails, Cc and Bcc
Proof I’m very important and busy
Walking that corporate gait
Quick steps, back straight
Going for that important meeting
To gain brownie points for public speaking

What an achievement!
What achievement?!
I impress general society
THAT makes me a success ............……how empty.

~ Sharon D. @ 11 November 2012

Nov 8, 2012

1 Lattice Top Seafood Soup Pie

I'm nowhere near MasterChef level but I do love to cook. I can't count the number of times I've terrified myself with my amateurish cooking. Terrified, yes. I mean, "Who's gonna eat this stuff?"  ..other than me.

I don't throw food away unless very necessary. It has been drummed into my head since young. Mom would always *roll-eyes* use the Remember-the-hungry-children-in-Africa!  line if any of us showed any intention of doing so.

Anyway, I was trolling the net and printed magazines for recipes again, as I do almost every other day. I read recipes like they're romance novels. There is such a gush of emotion every time I find something exciting, like this lattice pie. It's just so pretty. I knew I had to try it!

The next day, I rummaged my souvenir magnet filled refrigerator and cheap wooden cabinets for something to fill my little round baking dish. Some fresh prawns, white mushrooms, garlic, coriander, an egg, creamy mushroom spaghetti sauce..... off we go. The plan was to have a soup dish with pastry to dip in.

First up, I made creamy seafood soup in a separate pot. I only threw in some coriander when the dish had cooled completely.
Creamy Seafood Soup
Then comes the exciting part, that is, making the lattice pie crust. Up, down, up, down..down, up, up, down?..huh? I think I got a little cross-eyed with all the crisscrossing that was going on. I just lost my rhythm. That's about what happened to my lattice design.

I'm just glad that it wasn't obvious once it was baked and browned over. I ask for your patience. My creative side has yet to make a full appearance.

Ready-made Puff Pastry cut into strips
Brush with egg whites and into the oven it goes!
Anyway, I could not contain my excitement so I waited near the oven. I kept looking into the glass door every once in awhile. I can't explain the feeling but I'm pretty sure that's how Fabio felt when he gazed into the eyes of the woman he adored..romance novel-like.

I pulled out my dish of piping hot creamy soup topped with a lattice pie crust less than 20 minutes later. The results were amazing. After a couple of bites, I've got to idea I've ever tried, yummiest thing I've ever tasted. Haha.

Ho chiak (Yummy in Hokkien)

Nov 5, 2012

0 When Coca-Cola is not C-O-K-E

The humour of it all and I believe I would have fallen off my chair very ungracefully if I had not restrained myself from letting that whoop of laughter out.

This is what happens when you hire foreign help with little understanding of the language we speak hereabouts. I cannot blame the poor fellow. He struggled to understand what I wanted to order.

"Kok? Waddat?", came the reply.

"Coca-cola, coOoolaaa?", I tried explaining.

The drinks came and I got my coke. I was pleased....half an hour later, I got the bill.


Gotta be kidding me

Where? At the branch in Bukit Jalil.
(Not at the address printed on the receipt)

Nov 3, 2012

0 Oohing And Aahing Over My New Door Guard

It had to happen I guess. People have been saying that the crime rate has increased noticeably over the years.

I have never taken it very seriously. I rebel at the thought of being told that I cannot walk the land I was born and bred in safely and freely. Where are my rights in the middle of all this unjustified calls that I be more fearful than the devil who robs. Who is their protector that they conquer over us without an ounce of doubt that any repercussions would be light on their conscience. 

While there has been a steady flow of friends and family coming up to me with horrifying accounts of being held at knife point and having their bags snatched, I still felt safe behind the comforting closed doors of home...until recent. This is the year I took extra precautions.

Three of my neighbours had their homes broken into. It was the work of those in-the-know. They knew exactly which units would be completely empty during work days. They also knew how to avoid the many cameras that were installed in every lift and exit/entry point of our apartment building.

If security was poor, the fault did not 100% lie with the guards the building management has hired to keep these unsavoury characters out. The residents themselves had a hand in allowing strangers, without pass cards, to come in. Who can fault them for acting out of compassion.

Some strength is required to pull the latch up
So, Hubs bought some extra locks for the home. One, which enthralled me, was this door guard. It's no ordinary latch.

Not as flimsy as the ones I'm used to seeing from back home when I was child - you know, that squarish steel contraption with holes on its sides for screws, holding a small bar that is slid across to lock it into the other side of the door.

This fancy-looking door guard costs more than the average lock at over a hundred ringgit. After a couple of heave-hos trying to push the door open with my new door guard on, I'm pleased with how solid it felt. ..not to mention that it's aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Verdict: Worth the investment.

How does it work? You have to pull the latch (with some strength) to the right to lift it open and to lock.................dreadfully complicated to put into words.....

So, here's a video to show you how it works instead..hehe


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