Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

THE MAKING OF A SURGEON

Pictures taken from Haneem's photopages without permission! Sorry! Thanks!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

AN EXTREME JOURNEY


Life is so full of ironies. Just when you think that everything is fine and sunny, down comes the rain pouring with relentless vengeance. That aptly describes our most recent Sunday . The day went brilliantly, all plans executed accordingly and on our back home journey at night, just as we were reminiscing the great time we just had, "zap" came our tribulation. Our car decided to fail us at the most difficult hour and place. Initially we thought the engine ran out of water. After patienly waited for the engine to cool and several on foot trips to the nearby Geliga mosque to fetch water in a plastic bag (we had no big bottles in the car), we slowly adjourned with the journey again. This time, much slower, as we were worried of more serious engine complications (read: sudden cooling of engine causing sudden contraction). Alhamdulillah, the car went smoothly and I gave a sigh of relief.


But alas! It was a short-lived triumph, when suddenly we heard a high-pitched rotating sound and a sudden 'snap'. This time, we dare not take further risks and pulled to the side which actually was at a bridge! We called AAM for immediate assitance which in reality took an hour to reach us after what seemed to be an inifinity as the various tow-truck drivers were hesitant to help us. We also called our personal mechanic and requested that he waited for us as his work-shop. At this point I was thinking how so similar this episode was to a sick patient who badly needs medical attention from his/her doctor at an ungodly hour! Yes, we reached Beserah at 1 am! But not before enduring an hour plus journey in our on-tow car! Exhausted I kept on sleeping at intervals and too tired to even think of the bad concequences if the tow-car cable snapped! Nauzubillah! The tow-truck went at a steady speed and even managed to overtake a lorry at one point. Imagine! We were on tow and even overtook a lorry!


But all that was worth undergoing as we've had had a wonderful day filled with lots of friendship and closeness with friends of old and new! You see, my friend Lolo and hubby have been asking us to visit them at Paka since three years ago. We have been making promises but never fulfilling them that we became so embarrassed. So making this journey was tremendously meaningful. When Maklang invited us recently, I decidedly made plans to see all of them in one go i.e. Maklang in Kerteh, Lolo in Paka and KKL/OK in Dungun. Thus it was a 3 in 1 journey.


Maklang's house is heavenly! It absolutely qualifies as my dream house. Wooden flooring with a touch of country. Fabulous green landscaping with pegolas and gazebos. To top it all she's a great cook too! Apparently she had cooked for us early in the morning before going to work! She's such a gracious host! Not forgetting also, I am at awe of her fine needlework. Well, it's not at all surprising though as she's a Johorean! Indeed it was a great pleasure to have met both Maklang and Paklang. Our copious thanks to them.


Then it was off to Dungun to see KKL and OK. KKL had prepared Laksa Penang and dungun keropok lekor for us. OK made a special concoction of iced lime mint tea which went down well with the food despite it being a bit 'strong'. We had so much fun talking about any topic that comes to mind and I also had the chance to witness KKL's cute sketching of OK on her new Wacom board! Afer performing our jama' solat we excused ourselves and headed back down to Paka to meet Lolo and planning to meet them again at Kerteh for the 'much-talked-about' dinner.


Lolo is my sis OG's friend actually whom I got close to. After making so many visits to our place and asking us to drop by at theirs, they sort of almost gave up. Thus this trip was also to compensate our guilt! They brought us to their small beach house by a hill, facing the sea, right next to a river mouth. Stretched upfront is a sand-bank forming an island-like structure with trees on it, thus breaking strong winds from fully reaching them. Over here, the fishing boats would load their catch of the day and you could buy fresh sea-catch at unbelievable bargains! And fishing by the river-mouth is also another activity worth doing as the sea-fish also swims there. And there's a big gazebo perched at the front edge where you could view beautiful sunrise in the morning or perhaps enjoy barbeque at night. Lolo has furnished the cute wooden cottage-like house for her guests and we've been invited! Luqman has set his heart for it! Btw, this place makes a perfect 3h2m getaway for a someone we know, eh?


We were so carried away with the place that we were late for the dinner in Kerteh! Our greatest apologies to OK and KKL who patiently waited for us for more than an hour! Masyallah! I have never tasted a truly gastronomical feast of delicious sea-food spread before. 3 large plates of huge crabs fried with chilli. The crabs were tastefully fresh and 'sweet'. They even provided us with a claw cracker which I didn't use as I find eating the claws so cumbersome and chucked all of them into iKelah's plate. Being the crab eating expert he is, he handled the claws with ease and as always he'd say that the claw-meat tasted the finest! Oh well. There were sotong goreng tepung, grilled pari in sambal and freshly grilled oysters and they were exquisitely delicious. Needless to say that we ended up as 5 very satisfied sea-food devourers. Oh yes, there was also Jamil, OK's friend, who made our company merrier.

Alhamdulillah we truly had a fruitful trip, enhancing ties with beautiful friends and kins. Although we were tested with a small calamity in the form of a faulty car, we praise Allah swt for giving us good friends and may the tribulation serve as a reminder for us.

Monday, November 13, 2006

THE INHERENT COOK IN US

Somebody was curiously asking why iKelah and I kept on blogging on food and depicting photos of our recent raya food. Well, there are several reasons for the spamming of entries with food pictures. You see, I love to see well-taken food pictures that are artfully arranged. Mynn and 23/24 are good at that. Thus whenever feasible, I'd make iKelah take photos of what we've cooked as practice makes perfect, doesn't it? Let's just say that food is a subject close to our hearts (and stomach)!

Between my husband and I, he is the better cook. He thinks so and so do I (especially when my mood for cooking hits the floor!). Apparently he cooks from memory (heart) and only 'experts' can do that. Whenever he chanced upon a fabulous delectable food, he'd savor it heartily and scrutinize the possible ingredients incorporated in it and puts into memory. I guess he has a set of highly charged taste-buds that are able to distinguish the various herbs and spices just by tasting them even when cooked! Later when he has the opportunity, he'd recall the mentally conjured up recipe and tries it in the kitchen. And most of the time, he succeeds. Another important fact to mention is that my FIL is also a good cook. Perhaps that's where my husband got his cooking genes from!


Every time he cooks, when reaching to the final part, as he tastes the food, he'd ask, "cukup garam? Cukup masam? Cukup manis? Cukup pedas?" Whereas when it comes to me, my main concern would be, "cukup manis?" You see, I am a Johorean turned Kelantanese! I have a very sweet tooth but only to savory cooking! I find that whatever gulai cooked, it needs a tinge of sweetness in it to be of my liking. I hate savory cooking that is blandly hot, spicy and salty without any hint of sweetness! But mind you,in contrast, I loathe sweet drinks or cookies/kuih (except for Indian delicacies of course!)! Nowadays, I find drinks of teh tarik or nescafe prepared at shops are so sinfully sweet that many a time I had to ask them to dilute them further!

You can say that besides photography, cooking is another deep passion of ikelah's, but only on a much smaller scale and very much influenced by his fluctuating cooking mood and the time of the year, namely Ramadhan and Syawal. During the fasting month, his signature bubur lambuk is much sought after by us and his close siblings. It is truly authentic as he seems to have a specific mental ratio for the amount of ingredients used, i.e. the various traditional leaves/herbs, dried fish/prawns, boiled fish fillet and perhaps some unknown 'secret' ingredients or mantra as well! Thus it's no wonder when Pang5's wife asked him to buy bubur lambuk Kg Bahru, he scoffed and replied, "I am waiting for Long's bubur lambuk". And when Syawal comes, I'd prefer if he dons the apron and concocts his famous rendang raya, a thick, rich, dark, very spicy slow-cooked dish that brews together beef, spleen, liver and lungs. The rendang goes down well with lemang or ketupat.

As for me, soto has been my personal forte. I don't claim to cook the dish well but the outcomes thus far have been encouraging with various acclaims by certain reliable quarters. And when I say reliable it means trusted and sincere comments made by trusted and sincere souls, :p. I am imparting my recipe so that you can try it and decide its goodness. But I need to forewarn everyone that it doesn't come with accurate measurements as most of the time I cook with my basic taste/smell intuitions.

For the uninitiated, Soto is a dish that probably originated from Jawa. In my recent trip to Jogja, I managed to sample their version but I can vouch (no malice intended here, whatsoever) that Malaysian soto is pretty much better. Soto comprises of nasi himpit (packed cooked rice - often cut into cubes) and spiced soup, topped with pegedil and extra appetizing condiments. To add extra sweet-hot flavor, you are encouraged to sprinkle a generous amount of ketchup-chillie sauce .Now, pegedil is a must accompaniment. To serve soto sans pegedil is an epicurean crime! (at least to my cooking standard). Pegedil is similar to the French croquettes. It's basically mashed potatoes mixed with other ingredients and then, deep-fried. To me, pegedil is the cherry on top of the cake. It enhances the final flavor. To those who have requested for the recipe, here goes:

My Soto
Ingredients
Soup:
Chicken breasts
5 cloves garlic-pounded
10 shallots-pounded
2 inches ginger-pounded
2 big sticks of lemongrass- knocked
Tossed spices (rempah campak)
-6 cardamoms
-1 stick cinnamon
-2 star anise
-10 black peppers
Rempah Sup powder 6 tbs
Rempah sup bunjut
Asam keping
3 Limau nipis (extract juice)
10 Cili Padi
Freshly pounded peppercorns
Salt and pepper for seasoning


the ingredients

Pegedil
2 kg Potatoes quartered and deep fried
1 nutmeg, grated
5 eggs, yolk and white separated
Minced meat
Fried onion
Spring onion sliced thinly
Chinese parsley sliced thinly
Salt and pepper

Condiments
Chicken breast (cooked)- flossed thickly
Chinese parsley sliced
Spring onion sliced
Soh oon fried
Fried onions
Bean sprouts (blanched)
Pounded ground nuts

Dark ketchup Sauce
4 tbsp kicap manis
20 bird chillies (blended)
sugar to taste

Method

Soup:
1) Heat oil and toss in rempah campak. Once fragrant, add in pounded garlic, onions, ginger and lemongrass and fry till brown and fragrant.

2)Mix the 'rempah sup' with bit of water and then add to the sizzling onion mixture.

3)Once the frying mixture has thickened and emitting an aroma, add in the chicken breasts.

4)Add water to fill the pot. Place in the rempah sup bunjut, asam keping and freshly pounded peppercorns.

5)Cover the pot and simmer.

6)Once the water level has lessened a bit, remove the chicken meat and floss for condiments.

7)Add in lime juice and cili padi (whole). Season with salt and pepper.


Pegedil:

1) Mash the already fried potatoes.

2) Add in grated nutmeg, egg yolks, sliced Chinese parsley, spring onions, fried onion, minced meat, salt and pepper. Blend thoroughly till uniform.

3) Shape into flat balls or oblongs.

4) Dip in egg-white and deep fry till brown and crispy outside.


Condiments:

Prepare the various ingredients as indicated


Kicap Sauce:
Blend all the ingredients together

Finally, when serving, arrange several nasi himpit in a bowl.
Dish in the soup. Garnish with the various condiments and top with a pegedil or two (I can't have enough of them!). Lastly sprinkle few teaspoons of the kicap sauce.




Friday, November 10, 2006

Polishing The Art Of Perfect Timing!

With the UMNO general meeting around the corner, the recent high-profile murder news can't have chosen a better timing! I am sure those politicians who are supposed to give fiery speeches have to now re-write its contents to make them more juicy! Definitely, the UMNO jinbeng have more to say and gossip, now that a famous political analyst working for a private think-tank is a prime suspect (even though his lawyer says he is 100% not implicated). When I first heard of the news with all the hints, the first name that came to mind was his and I was hoping I was wrong because I have known him to be such an eloquent figure and well-known internationally. It would be a crying shame. But alas! I guessed right. Boy, aren't we scoring high in the crime department eh? To blast an already dead body?? Astaghfirullah!

And somebody has also chosen to have chest pains (mild heart attack? Blimey! Who diagnosed that? ) at the nick of time! That's what we call perfect timing! :p

Inquisitive query: How come the Star and NST deliberately mentioned the main suspect's name and showed his photo, whilst the rest of the mainstream media didn't and had to blur his picture? Anybody can answer? Azhar?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Syawal nan indah


Get Your Own! | View Slideshow


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The Not So Enchanted Woods - The Sequel

Papa and Mama bear had gone ahead with the initial invitation plans, going against the most popular sms votes. They decided that ditching the whole thing as suggested by someone was an outright cowardice move. And holding it out at the nearest A & W outlet was not feasible as most of the animals are still steadfast with the recent boycott strategy. Thus, hosting the meals at their humble abode, it was.

The person sending the most number of sms with the most popular vote was Mama Sarah. She had been texting non-stop since the line was opened. Obviously, she's a die-hard fan of the Raja sms. Since she can't fly back here, Mawi has agreed to fly to Coventry to fulfill her winning dinner with him. Good luck Mama Sarah!

After 2 days of hard-bullish-work which encompassed traditional gourmet-bearish cooking and entertaining bear-ful guests, Papa and Mama good-naturedly took their little teddy bears out for a joy-ride around town. First they stopped at a quaint little cafe which served toasted kaya buns. Secretly, they felt that the hot crisp buns would have faired better if slathered with fresh honey instead.

They then circled the small town and finally ended at the Bay of Jackfruit. They had a meager dinner at a road-side stall and headed home straight after filling up their tummy. Mid-way towards home, they stopped at a traffic light. Whilst patiently waiting for the green-light, a motorcyclist adamantly chose to squeeze pass the bears' jalopy and hit its side-mirror. Showing not the slightest remorse for any wrongdoing, the cyclist passed through and stopped ahead. (wonder how many of you out there has had such irritating encounters??). Mama bear looked hard at the motorcyclist and realized it was a young girl!

At home, Papa and Mama bear had a short discussion on the incident. Mama voiced out her strong long-held opinion that young girls shouldn't be allowed riding motorbikes all alone especially at night. This trend has definitely turned them into a bold and careless group of society. It's a dangerous freedom for them. What do you think?

Friday, November 03, 2006

THE NOT SO ENCHANTED WOODS,


Papa and Mama bear have decided to hold a small dinner to commemorate the recent ausipicious celebration. It's decidedly going to be a very small ado, inviting close kins. Furthermore it is to reciprocate C who had cooked up a fine dinner for them a few days ago.

But the enchanted woods is not without life predicaments. The used-to-be-simple animal kingdom way of life has now become severely complicated, entwined with many mind-boggling inter-species rifts and feuds. Papa and Mama bear's thoughts are completely muddled. They can't decide whom to invite. If they invite A, then it would mean that they have to leave B out. You see, A and B have been estranged for a few years due to reasons only known to them. And inviting them both in one occasion would mean either both won't turn up or if they do, it might mean rekindling of an old cold feud!

Thus the bears decided to ask A, C, D for the dinner and plan a separate ado for B. Papa had to execute tactfully the task of calling and forewarning them of the complex and sticky situation. He requested them not to mention anything pertaining the dinner to B, lest B will get hurt. When Papa explained the whole mumbo-jumbo to C, being a simple straight-forward person she is, she excepted it without much exasperating queries.

Unlike C, explaining the perplexing issue to obdurate D proved to be more challenging! "Why can't you invite both A and B together? Isn't it our responsibility to bring them back together?" And D rant and rant further, supplying Papa Bear with a short sermon on the obligations of mending inter-species ties. Blah, blah....Irritated, Papa bear was quick to retort, "Puhleeze! I planned this dinner in my gesture to thank my elders for their kindness. I don't want this ado to freakily turn into a confrontation of some sort! Especially not in front of glorious food!" Exasperated, he added, "You know what D? When one does a deed which is 'sunnat' but at the same time if the deed could provoke bad consequences which in turn might sever already weakened ties, then one might as well abandon the deed altogether, lest the deed might transform into a sin!!" D became quiet, probably trying to absorb Papa's rather ' intriguing ' fatwa'.

Sigh! Why must one make life so complicated? Life as it is, is so brief. Why can't we just forgive and forget and try to be nice to each other?? Papa bear gave a long sigh and told Mama to remind him not to plan such dinners anymore next year!

Papa and Mama bear could still vividly remember the regrettable incident that occurred in their previous house party, a few moons ago. Their dear cousin, Winnie the Pooh, created an uproar when she overheard a famous female crooner in the crowd pronounced her name wrongly as Winnie the Po-Oh! What an unsightly scene! And not to forget the dumbfounding visit by a strange gold-haired girl who invaded their privacy by sampling their porridge, testing the comforts of their chairs and lastly, having the utmost cheek to criticize their beds and horrors of all horrors, to finally sleep in Baby bear's cot! The reminiscing thoughts send cold shivers down both their already osteoporotic spines! No! They won't let such ridiculous incidents happen again under their noses!

Papa and Mama stared at each other quizzically. Maybe they should just call the dinner off?

What do you think? Send your thoughts and ideas on what should be Papa and Mama bear's next course of decision via sms. The person sending the most number of sms with the most popular suggestion will win a dinner for two with Mawi Bear at The Mawi World Resort. Winner will also win a life-long supply of Mawi mineral water (however this prize is subjected to the outcome of the impending suit against the mineral water producer).Type <<>papa-mama bear<>><<>your suggestion<>> to 8234. The line is opened now!
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