Monday, September 24, 2012

Silhouette in the middle of the night

At around 2:00am this morning, I awoke to the sound of thunder. It was raining heavily and the wind was howling outside the room window. I got up to close the windows in all the rooms and went back to bed. 

As I drifted back to sleep, a bright strike of lighting flashed in the sky followed by a deafening sound of thunder and car alarms ringing through the air. The power tripped.

And then, I saw a silhouette. I wasn't wearing my spectacles and was wondering if my eyes were playing tricks on me. I glared hard. I notice it's a human-like shadow on the wall, swaying very gently. My heart was beating faster. I couldn't tell if there was someone standing outside the window or if something is in the room.

I lay still for a while, observing the shadow and was wondering whether I should jump out of bed or stay still or start screaming. I tried to remember whether my golf stick was beside my bed.

Hubby was snoring beside me and I didn't dare to turn. I quickly calm myself down and said a  quick prayer. I decided to just sit up straight in bed and to confront my fears.

It was Eryn, standing by the foot of my bed, staring at me. She gave me a fright. She said in a hushed tone that her back ached. I knew it was just an excuse and could have been frightened by the sound of thunder. I gave her a back rub and then she went back to bed.

Hubby got up and went downstairs to check on the circuit box. I went back to bed and closed my eyes. Once again, I had a big fright when there was this face right in front of me, with eyes wide open and whispering in a slow voice in Mandarin saying that the power has tripped. That was Brendan, speaking slowly and whispering so as not to fighten me. Sigh!

This kind of experience is definitely not for the faint-hearted. I remember the older folks used to have a chinese saying : "frightened by a human being can cause a fright to death where else frightened by a ghost can still be overcomed".

This is not the first time that Eryn has given me such fright. She has always stood there quietly and very straight and looked at me, always careful not to disturb me - while I'm cooking, while I'm in the toilet or while I'm watching TV or working on my pc at night. 

She's not always like that though. She likes to come up to me and snuggle and hug me but cooking time and toilet time are a big no-no. When it's bed time, she's not to come downstairs too. So, she'll just stand still and look. 

During such times, when I noticed a silhouette, I would normally turned very quickly, and there stood Eryn, looking at me and then breaking out in a wide grin. 

What would you do if you encounter a silhouette in your room?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sperms and Eggs (part II)

Here's the 'sequel' to my earlier post titled "Of sperms, eggs and balls", the kids know how fertilisation occurs but has never gotten down to the details of where sperms actually come from.

My little 7 y.o. Eryn came up to me after dinner and said she's got a very interesting story to tell me. So, I sat with her and she took out her kids' magazine, 小星星  or Bintang SinChew, and showed me this page below.

She then went on to tell her story which goes like this :

"These are all the sperms and the fastest and strongest sperm will go to the egg in your body 

and make a baby. Just like how the sperm, which was daddy, and the egg, which is inside your body, 
meet and made me. 

"The little egg baby will go inside your womb and slowly grow into a real baby and when the baby is ready
to come out, it will come out from this part (pointing to the vagina in the picture)".

I then proceeded to ask her, "Where did the sperm come from?"

She answered like a girl full of wisdom, "The sperm is quite invisible. It is very tiny, and you can't see it. 
It's like the size of kutu (lice). Wait, it's more like the size of germs because you can still see kutu. This
sperm will go down your mouth and inside your tummy to find the egg."

I almost chocked on my guava hearing that! Gosh! Trying to be smart indeed. he he he....

She continued, "And only married people can have babies."

Earlier this year, Brendan's version of where sperms come from is from kukubird and two balls.

I wonder what new versions I'm going to hear.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Kari Ikan Tongkol" to go with Nasi Dagang

Yummy Yummy!

From my earlier post on how to cook nasi dagang, here is the recipe for 'kari ikan tongkol' (Kelantanese style fish curry). I'm not sure what 'ikan tongkol' is called in English. I think it's some kind of a Malaysian tuna?

Well, we eat rather heathily on weekdays as I cook almost everyday, and we definitely do not consume much salt, sugar, santan, oil and stuffs that contribute to the high level of diabesity and overweight problems that is increasing in our country. So, do take it easy with the curry since it's generously laden with santan (coconut milk). I think you may opt to use evaporated milk or use less santan, but the taste be slightly less fragrant.

This is an occasional treat where we usually invite some friends over to indulge in this yummilicious meal.

Here's sharing with you our recipe. We prefer ours with more gravy. Do note that we do use any specific measurements as every ingredients are based on estimation according to our preference.

 Our 'Kari Ikan Tongkol' recipe for approximately 10-12 pax :

Ingredients A :
~ one big bowl of shallots (approximately 4-5 handful)
~ a quarter big bowl of garlic (approximately 1-2 handful)
~ 4-5 stalks of serai (lemongrass) - more if you like the fragrance

Ingredients B :

~ 5 to 6 medium sized 'ikan tongkol' or 'tenggiri' (Malaysian tuna?)
~ santan (coconut milk) from one coconut
~ one/two cucumber (cut in big pieces)
~ long beans (cut in thumbsized length)
~ 5-6 fresh red chillies or green chillies (the light green type) - we like to have more of it
~ a few cili padi (bird's eye chillies) - if desired
~ cili giling (chilli paste, comes in a container and is easily available in the market)
~ a few pieces of asam keping or asam gelugor  (dried tamarind skin),
~ fish curry powder (we prefer Baba's brand)
~ lengkuas, thumbsize (1 to 2) (galangal)~ 2 to 3 big bowls of water
~ salt and sugar to taste

Method :

( Pre-cooking steps ) :

1) Boiled a big bowl of water in a pot with 2-3 pieces of asam keping (dried tamarind skin) for approximately 20 minutes. Turn on low fire and add in the fish. Turn off fire when fish is halfway cooked. Leave the fish in the water and let it cool totally. Cover pot and let the fish 'soaked' in the asam water overnight in the fridge. This is to ensure that the fish would have a slight sourish tangy taste. Alternatively, you may soak it for a few hours prior to cooking.

2) A few hours before cooking, do the same for the cucumber and long beans. Boil half a big bowl of water with 1-2 pieces of asam keping. Turn off the fire and add in the vegetables.
Leave the vegetables in the water for approximately one hour. You may pour away the water afrer it's cooled down.

( Cooking steps ) :

1)  Heat up oil. Lightly fry two tbsp-ful of the chilli paste.
2)  Add in ingredients (A), stire and fry over medium heat till fragrant.
3)  Add in 2-3 tbsp of fish curry powder and continue frying over medium-low heat. Be careful not to burn.
4)  Add in the bowls of water and let it boil.
5)  Add in the fresh chillies and one or two more asam keping (to your preference)
6) Add in all the fish and let it simmer on medium heat and then to low heat.
7)  Add in the asam fish water (tamarind water) from the pot that was used to 'soak' in the fish.
      Simmer on low fire for around 20 minutes or so for the flavour to come out.
8)  Add in approximately 2 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of sugar, to your preference.
9)  Gradually pour in the coconut milk and simmer on low heat for around 5 minutes.
10) Turn off fire. Add vegetables from the pre-cooking steps above into the curry before serving.
      (I prefer to keep my vegetables separated so that it's easier to scoop out).

As mentioned in my earlier post, 'kari ikan tongkol' goes well with nasi dagang which is a well known dish in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu and southern Thai, accompanied by 'acar' (pickled vegetables), hard boiled eggs, salted fish, 'sambal belacan' (a type of chilli shrimp paste) and keropok.

I've made a video here for your perusal. Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nasi Dagang recipe


Our kitchen is our mini bonding time for DH and I on some weekends when we undertake the task of cooking together. I cook for the family on weekdays and on weekends, DH would be the one who normally does the cooking. Occasionally, when the mood sets in, he'll go on a huge marketing spree and we'll then decide at the very last minute to call a few friends over.

Since we do not have a maid, our day starts right from the early morning till the evening, starting with the marketing, cleaning, chopping, slicing, cooking and washing the dishes. The rice will be soaked the night before. The kids love these cooking extravaganza weekends cos it means that they can watch unlimited cartoons or play games online while we toiled in the kitchen :-)
DH is a kelantanese and learnt this dish with recipe taken from the web, and improvised according to what we want. It's actually easy to cook, minus the time consuming processes in the preparation. With such a famous dish in the east coast, it would be a shame for those from the area who cooks but do not know how to cook this dish. Really! It's that easy!

A quick introduction on nasi dagang. It is a well known east coast of Malaysia and southern Thai dish, commonly eaten with 'kari ikan tongkol' (a type of Kelantanese style fish curry), accompanied by 'acar' (pickled vegetables), hard boiled eggs, salted fish, keropok and 'sambal belacan' (a type of chilli shrimp paste).

You can find the 'kari ikan tongkol' recipe in the next post.

'nasi dagang' and 'kari ikan tongkol'
The rice itself is rather reddish brown in colour and is like glutinuous rice. You may opt to use 'beras merah' (red rice) mixed with 'beras pulut' (glutinuous rice) as it can be quite hard to obtain it in KL area.

Below here is our version. Most of the ingredients here are just 'agak-agak' (based on estimation) on the ingredients used. You may improvise it according to your taste buds.

shallots, ginger and 'halba' (fenugreek seeds)

Nasi Dagang recipe for 8-10 pax :
Ingredients :

~ 1 kg beras nasi dagang (nasi dagang rice, or you may substitute it with a mixture of red rice and glutinuous rice)
~ Santan (coconut milk) from two coconut (you may opt to use lesser santan if you find it too 'lemak', or too rich)
~ one rice bowl full of peeled and chopped shallots
~ one knob of ginger, sliced and shredded (approximately palm size in length)
~ 1.5-2 tbsp biji halba (fenugreek seeds)
~ sugar to taste

Method :

1)  Soak the nasi dagang rice overnight in water to soften it.
2)  Discard water the next day and rinse rice. Heat up steamer.
     Place netting in the steamer and place the rice on top of the netting.
     (You may get this netting in sundry shops. We got our cotton netting from a fabric shop)
3)  Steam rice for 20 minutes in steamer.
4a) Remove rice and scoop them out into a huge clean pot.
      Add in some santan (approximately half).
      Stir well to mix the rice evenly with the santan.
4b) Scoop rice back into the steamer and steam rice for another 20 minutes.
5)  Remove rice once again and scoop them out into the earlier pot.
     Add in more santan (approximately one, depending on absorption)  
     to stir and blend in together with the rice. This will ensure that the rice absorb the santan)
5b) Once again, scoop rice back into the steamer and steam rice for another 5-10 minutes.
6)  Remove rice for the third and final time and scoop them out into the other pot.
     Pour in remaining santan. Add in shallots, ginger, halba and a little sugar. Stir evenly.
7)  Scoop rice back into the steamer and steam rice for approximately 5 minutes.
     Turn off fire after that and serve rice warm with the curry.

Appended below is a video for your reference on the steaming method of nasi dagang.

Do try it. You'll love it!  :-)

Kids outing to KLCC Park and Istana Negara

It was Merdeka Day (Independence Day) last Friday. Since it was a public holiday and the kids' little cousin, Jas, came visiting, we decided to take them out for a short outing to the KLCC Park just before Jas leaves KL in that same afternoon.

We would have expected to see lots of foreign workers hanging out there but were surprised to see that the park was rather empty at 10:30am. It started getting rather crowded about half an hour later. So, we had to drag the kids out from the pool in less than an hour.

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

Kids lying down by the pool
While driving towards Federal Highway, we decided to just make a quick stop to Istana Negara as the kids have not been there. I have to admit that I've never been to the guard post nor the main gate outside Istana Negara before. So, was rather surprise to see that the place were opened to the public.  We didn't know this prior to this visit.

It was a lovely place surrounded with lots of greeneries and a nice garden with a pond. Unfortunately, what was once a beautiful garden and nursery, was a big let down with unkept surroundings. The field was pretty well kept though, and the grass were green and trimmed.

Overall, it was a good experience for us all as it was our first time visiting Istana Negara.
Inside the Istana Negara grounds near the entrance

Tiled road leading up to the main halls

Beautiful landscaping garden with a water fountain feature in the middle of the pond

Not a pretty sight : stagnant water in a boat by the pond


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