Sambal Hitam, The Official Sambal Of Pahang

Well, well…look at that… finally this humble sambal called Sambal Hitam is now the official sambal of Pahang, as declared by the HM Tengku Puan Pahang, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah. The black sambal is due to the use of belimbing buluh/Averrhoa bilimbi. This fruit is essential to the making of this spicy sambal. There is no water involved at all when “cooking” the belimbing buluh. The fruit is washed, placed in a pot on top of small fire and left to dehydrate from its own juice for  at least 6 to 7 hours. A kilo of belimbing buluh will only yield about a cup of the dehydrated version. It is indeed a long process and it is not even halfway yet!

The other essential ingredients are dried anchovies, bird’s eye chilis, onions and some oil for frying.

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For me the sambal hitam serves as a base for several kampung dishes that I cook. For instance, the sambal kulat sisir has the sambal hitam used as the base sambal. The add-ons are the kulat sisir and petai (stinky beans). Kulat sisir, by the way is a variety of mushroom/fungus which thrives well on dead rubber tree trunks. Before cooking, you need to wash it thoroughly to get rid of the grit that got trapped in between the “combs”. The effective way I have used is to soak the mushroom in a bowl of salted water for about 15-20 minutes.

Photo0378(Top)The uncooked kulat sisir, ready for the pot!

Photo0380(Top)Sambal kulat sisir and petai.

The Little Furby Munchkin

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munchkin2

 

Tiny Furby Munchkin, fostering for The Daughter. She was found abandoned in a brown box next to the lift nearby The Daughter’s apartment unit.

Isn’t she a cutie pie?

 

Do You Remember Your First Road Trip Or Even Your First Trip On A Plane?

PART 1 – The journeys of past

I was inspired to write down my thoughts today after reading a blog by the CEO of Marriott International, Arne Sorenson. He asked a simple question – “Do you remember your first road trip or even your first trip on a plane?”

What a thought provoking question.

I cannot really recall my first ever road trip because I grew up in a family who loved travelling whenever we could especially during school holidays. These trips were all extremely exciting because you just did not know where you will end up at! My parents usually did not tell me about all these plans. Our road trips will usually involving them picking me up after school session ended, usually on the last Friday which was the last day of school. I will see the big travelling bag already in place on the back seat. I was supposed to change from the school uniform into something more comfortable at the back seat of the car and all the while excitement just get built up depending on what I saw in the bag….

Plenty of beach towel, swimming suit, slippers meant we will be heading towards somewhere with PLENTY of water, usually the beach. Sweaters and socks meaning were will be heading towards the mountains.

And mind you, these trips will take days and days and days. My dad with his trusty big camera will snap away plenty of pictures (back then they were in black and white). I usually get confused using his camera because the focus frame will show an upside down image. You can now imagine how many years ago was that….

Big trips to the beach will usually see us ended up in Penang, Port Dickson or Kuantan. The drive took forever as there was still no big highways back then. Those long, winding roads that passed through tiny villages and small towns were interesting. Sometimes we had to over night at some of these tiny places as it was already so late at night and Abah was too tired to drive. Remember, in the old days, the cars had no air cond and power steering.

Accommodation was usually something basic such as government rest houses. We could not afford expensive, fancy hotels although sometimes we ended in some Chinese-owned hotels with names such as Ak Keong Hotel, Excelsior Hotel, Champagne Hotel or whatever, where the bathroom is usually located at the end of the corridor. They will provide you with these basic necessities such as a room with a fan, tiny Lux soap bars and tiny guest towels. The room slippers, if provided at all, will have its back-end snipped away to discourage pilferage.

Meals were simple, usually eaten at simple restaurants or rest houses. No fancy fast food outlets back then. Or, my mom will pack some rice and dishes from home and this will be our journey meals where dad will stop at several places. Sometimes we will stop near a river and this became a mini picnic of sort.

Will keep all of you posted on Second Part of this blog. Will talk about my experience travelling on a plane for the first time…..

For those who wants to read Arne’s blog, click below:

Blog by the CEO of Marriott International

Pokok Galak Kucing

As I was cleaning the back of the kitchen, I noticed a few new plants sprouting near the grouts to the steps. They were pokok galak kucing! Cats simply love the scent from the roots and give them a weird reaction – as if they are high! They will roll on it, drool as they rub their bodies over it. This effect will last as long as a couple of hours. I read that small kittens are immune to it so I tried giving a plant to Jane. She just ignored it when her other brothers and sisters were drooling on the floor, rolling their bodies gently and and purring so loud at the same time.

Other names for this interesting plant is Acalypha indica or in English – Indian acalyphaIndian nettlethree-seeded mercury. This plant is so ubiquitous that you tend to miss it.

According to sources, this plant is also edible to human where the leaves are cooked and eaten as vegetable.

I found a Youtube on this plant as well, explaining about is remedial properties as a herbal medicine.

Interestingly, the furkids did not even bother with the plant. Not until I pulled out a few and gave to them. We even had a visitor cat came out of nowhere to join the feast of this plant in the hall!

I used to contact a friend to grab a few bunches of this plant that grows wildly near her office parking lot but looks like now I have my own little supply of pokok galak kucing at the back of the kitchen.

 

Athena And Fluffy

ATHENA, THE GODDESS OF WISDOM

Remember Cik Nah’s best laksam?

You see, each time I go there to have either my laksam or nasi kerabu, I would sit on this stool while waiting for Siti to prepare my makan. There is usually this kitty who would come from some place and play, or just watch me eat. There was one time when we didnt see her for a while. When we finally saw her again, she was skinny with swollen tits, indicating that she had given birth and her kittens were not suckling. We tried to look for any indication of kittens but there was none.

I ate my laksam that morning and as she usual did, she slept on my lap. Her burnt orange shade of her fur was beautiful. Her pink nose was wet. She looked contend.

I told Siti that by the time I finished off my laksam and she was still on my lap, I would take her home.

I finished my laksam. She was still sleeping like a baby, infact she even stretched a little.

Yeap, she went home with me that day.

I named her Athena, from the Greek’s Goddess Of Wisdom. She is such a lovely girl with even temperament. No fleas infestation when I found her. Look at that pink nose and paw paw. Fine fur is still growing on her tummy after her snip snip.

FLUFFY

As I was driving out passing the guard house to the housing area with The Daughter sometime last week, I saw one of the guards holding a tiny kitten and was putting it away to the other side of the busy inter section.

I stopped the car and asked him who does the kitten belongs to? He said, it was a stray. I came down, asked a few people there, including an Indian lady who found the kitten near the entrance whether she wanted to keep the kitten. Everyone didnt want her.

Hmmm…the decision was quite clear. I couldnt let the tiny kitten on the street. She wouldnt be able to survive the days without food and shelter. She looked pitiful with the skinny body and sick eyes.

We decided to bring her home to feed her.

Nyom! Nyom! Nyom! She ate like a Tasmanian Devil. Poor baby.

The Daughter named her Fluffy. At first I wanted to put her up for adoption but since The Daughter is moving to her own place by end of the month, she wanted the kitten. She named her Fluffy.

Will take her to visit the vet in the next few days to check on her health, deworming and vaccination. She looks alright for now, and her eyes are getting better after some eye ointment treatment.

Interview By Meow Magazine

I feel so honoured when Charyen called me up to ask whether Meow Magazine could do a write up on the furbabies and me. Wow! Me?;-)

And so, one evening, the well known photographer Teng Wei came to the house for the photo session. I never knew that taking photos with these kids can be so much …..errr….trying….

Amadeus was nowhere in sight. Zeus was being himself – so full of himself…Uncle Kucing was very cooperative, and so was baby Whistle and Blackie. The rest were restless. Didnt like to meet our guest and didnt like to be held at one spot.

I was sweating like nobody’s business. This is hard work! In the end, I just simply love his finished work! Beautiful pictures capturing the best moments of me and the furbabies

With Uncle Kucing

With Princess

The front cover of Meow Magazine, February 2012 issue.

You can get the soft copy here. The hard copies can be obtained at all leading vets and pet shops.

As The Year Of The Water Dragon Enters

(Hanie blogging from the comfort of her air conditioned room, slowly recovering from a bout of terrible cough and high fever. She has been sick! Ughhhhh!)

The Daughter and I came from Langkawi last 29th January. Between then and now, I lost track of at least a good four days of my life due to high fever, terrible cough, unbelievably painful body aches and mega headaches. I got sick one afternoon and woke up a few days later the following week. That’s it! 4 days was gone! I lost 5kg too. As I drifted slowly in between the high fever induced sleeps, I was hallucinating.

I thought I saw George putting on his favourite black shirt and was standing by the door, telling me he’s going to Thailand.

Huh?

Then, I found myself standing in the metropolis of Jakarta.

Huh???

Somewhere in between reality and hallucination, I thought I saw these ginormous black mosquitoes flying in perfect formation just above our bed. I woke George up alright.

In between of all of these, there’s The Daughter who came in several times to check on me and asking me questions about this and that. At 10.00 pm. At 3 am. At 4 am. I lost track. I think she refused to think that her mama is not a super woman who can’t get sick.

Sigh.

I am recovering and hopefully fast enough to get started on things. I have to get some project papers going, meetings to attend. I got furkids to play with as well.

The trip to Langkawi was great. Met new friends, learn new things, saw new stuff. I will do it again and hopefully soon.

Stay tuned for next pieces. I’ve plenty of pictures to post and stories to tell. There’s the bad, bad dining experience at the seafood restaurant in Langkawi, the island hopping story, our volunteering experience at an animal sanctuary and also my self realization on several things about life. See? Exciting stuff.

World Bloggers And Social Media Awards

I have been blogging for a few years but never thought to enter into any blogging competition, until a couple of days ago.

Over the several years of blogging, I have written topics that run across from relationships, love, youth, food, travel, pets, a little bit of politics, law, religion, travel, life. All of these topics have touched my life and all of the people around me. On some days where I was just lost for words, I’d put some pictures that reflect what I have in mind, or whatever that I am feeling for the moment.

There were several phases where I had writer’s block. The mind just went numb and refused to spill out intelligent words. It just went blank.

The first few hundred posts covering the first couple of years of blogging reflected of the time when I was recovering from a phase where I was picking the pieces in my life. They were intense posts, filled with reflections of life, self internalization and affirmation for myself that I am still an individual.

As time passes by, the posts have mellowed down, somewhat. I became less critical of life’s issues. Words mellowed.

A lot of readers have written to me saying how my observations on life are pretty vocal, loud and can sometimes unconventional. I agree. I see things as they are and will say it as it is. If I have my way, this blog will become either PG18 rated or above.

But the last thing I want to be known in the blogosphere is as an obnoxious blogger. I do not blast individuals with derogatory names, neither do I question someone’s faith as that is between the individual and his Maker. Ok, so….maybe I have blasted a few people before but with very, very good reason. I hate to be dragged into the current waves of politically correct of writing about some “supposedly” banned breads or sauces or lambasting individuals that I do not fancy of interacting by calling his mother being the cheapest whore in this part of the city.

Unfortunately, some people do that. Why? I have a theory for this. They get a kick out writing all these derogatory words, hiding behind the safe veil of the laptop. They forget that being a blogger or a writer of any medium, you are responsible for your own writing.

I do not fancy being loud to be at a point of being an obnoxious, toxic individual. Being a toxic person should be banned from this planet because they kill other people from deep within, they erode other people’s faith by creating a platform for hatred which is unsanctioned by God.

Anyways, rant, rant, rant…..

I have submitted my blog under the Most Vocal Blog category to The World Bloggers And Social Media Awards 2012.

If you have enjoyed my writings so far, please feel free to visit the website of Social Media Award and vote for my blog. The blog is called Life Is One Big Stage. I have just entered it yesterday so hopefully the numbers will increase in days to come. The online voting ends on 6th February 2012. A simple sign up will take you to the category page. Honestly, I have no idea what are the prizes but that doesn’t matter. For those who have voted for me, thank you so much.

Simple Weekday Dinner Idea – Roast Beef

Who says that roast beef is for Sunday lunch? Or roast lamb? Or lamb chops? Nothing is easier than chucking a chunk of lovingly marinated meat into the oven, and wait for your dinner. In the meantime, make sure you make good use of your time by putting dirty clothes in the washing machine, feed your kitty cats, put away clean glasses, hit the shower, watch CSI and chit chat with your Other Half.

An hour and a half later (that’s for medium well), you know that your dinner is alllllmooooost ready. All you need is some side salad. And, you are done!

 

My mid-week roast beef recipe is simple:

  • A sachet of Lipton mixed-onion soup (if you cant get this, a simple rub of salt, pepper, olive oil, Italian herbs will do)
  • Throw in all your favourite vegetables in the same tray. I like onions, whole garlic, carrots, squash.
  • Cover with tin foil and put in the oven. Make sure you crank up the heat to 240C.
  • Save the pan juice to create that lovely, lovely gravy

 

My simple lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing:

  • Cos lettuce (or Romaine lettuce as some people call it)
  • Pink plum tomatos
  • As dressing, I used a few spoons of honey (I use the tualang honey which we bought from the Orang Asli in our Cameron Highlands trip), a couple of spoons of whole mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Roast beef ala Hanie

 

Simple lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing