Thursday, December 17, 2009

Achievement of the day

Yay! (That's a strip of peel for one whole apple, by the way).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Extra! Extra!

She was licking her nose, hence the red thing around her mouth in the picture.

Introducing "Duo yu", literally meaning "extra" in mandarin, the oldest (8.5 years old) female canine in the family. She is no doubt the smartest dog in our household, as evident by her ability to open her own cage from both inside and outside, which kinda moots the purpose of a cage.

Naturally, she is also incredibly cunning yet adorable at the same time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's ALIVE!!

Remember the previous post about my dying chili plant? It seems that it was not quite ready to go yet.

Shortly before that post, I had actually just transferred it from a pot to the ground. After the move, things were still not looking up so I thought it was not working. But a few weeks later, lo and behold, the yellowish leaves have been replaced with fresh, healthy green leaves!

Before & After

It seems that a little care goes a long way after all :)

On another note, it seems that our yard has a penchant to grow things on it's own. For example, these lovely curry leaves inexplicably appeared in our yard a few months ago and have since grew to become a prominent resident. Needless to say, we are more than delighted with it.

Curry leaves. Named after the dish. Or vice versa.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vacancy - Neighbour needed

First of all, I feel I owe my readers an apology for the lack of updates on this blog. Work life always catch up with me when I am having fun, and when it does it is often relentless. In any case, I promise I will try my best to post something new at least twice or thrice a week.

I just read about Chatterbox's nosy neighbour from her blog post and it reminded me about the owner of the piece of land next to my house. At first, we learnt that our supposed new neighbour makes dumpling for a living. He was thinking of tearing down the dilapidated wooden house that was occupying the land and build a new one. Later, rumors has it that he was not doing well financially and health-wise, and thought that the piece of land and the house is cursed. Last we heard, he was looking for a new buyer.

Even though his affairs are none of our business, the abandonment of this plot of land next to ours brought us a lot of problems. Unchecked, the grass were growing out of control and became breeding grounds for rats and snakes. Especially troublesome were the rats who would pay our house a visit every night. As a result, we can't put the food around the house like we used to, not even our dog biscuits. All foodstuffs have to be placed inside a container or a locked cupboard. We even have to install another layer of netting around Rabbit's cage to keep the rats out. Mouse traps were set around the house but it looks like they are getting smarter and not that easy to bait now.

I suppose one of the neighbours contacted him about the problem and every now and then he would send someone to have a look and cut the grass. The situation has improved somewhat, but it is still an eyesore in our neighbourhood.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2012 - Possible spoilers!

A few weeks ago we won a couple of tickets to an opening weekend private screening of Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic film 2012. Even if you are not familiar with Emmerich, you probably have seen or heard about his work, namely Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. Claiming that this would be his last disaster movie, Emmerich decides to throw everything in: Where he put half of the US in ice age in his previous movie, he went ahead and sunk the whole country in this one.

In a nutshell, 2012 is about the world coming to an end due to a catastrophic calamity caused, in part, by our sun. Much of the story follows the journey of Jackson Curtis (portrayed by John Cusack) and his family in their bid to survive the event. On the other hand, there is also the unfolding White House drama, complete with the villainous politician and heroic scientist.

2012 is pretty much the formulaic disaster movie one would come to expect: over the top destruction sequences, inappropriately comedic moments, impossible odds and the corny speech that inspires everyone in the movie but the audience.

Without a doubt, the visual effects are astounding, but that's about the only merit I'm willing to give the film. Gone are the human dramas that actually intrigue us nor any sense of impending doom because we all know that the main characters will always come out on top despite incredible odds. But going into an Emmerich film, one would be foolish to expect anything else. I have come to consider it an impressive 158 minutes long visual effects showreel.

If you're looking for mindless fun and loud thrills, 2012 is for you. Just remember to check your brain at the ticket counter.

View trailer below:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Long absence

It's been almost a week now since I last updated this blog. My laptop was so sick that it refused to wake up when I tried to turn it on. So, I had no choice but to send it to the ICU for a few days. Luckily, almost all of the important files can be recovered. I was informed that the computer was diagnosed with a "corruption" of some sort.

Glad to be back after a few days of clearing the backlogs of work!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Beef Noodles

Beef Noodles with the works.

There was a comment from Chris Hoke in my Wonton Noodles post that gave me the idea of introducing a local beef noodles restaurant that I frequent. This particular shop is situated in Taynton View Garden, Cheras.

There are two specialty eateries that sell this dish in Taynton View Garden, one of which is called 3U Beef Noodles. 3U was featured on a TV food programme (Ho Chiak on 8TV) so this was also the first shop that we tried.

The second time, we went to another shop in which was located just off the main road, called Lai Foong Restaurant. In contrast to 3U, it was never featured in any TV show nor any (food) blogs / websites. Nonetheless, we were pleasantly surprise to find that their variety of beef noodles came in more generous portions in terms of meat and actually tastes better.

There are several choices on how you would like your meal served: from the different types of noodles to the different types of bovine parts, including the stomach, intestines, beef, tendons and meatballs. One of the differences between the two restaurants was that Lai Foong restaurant actually put in chunks of the tendons, as oppose to 3U which only sprinkled tiny shreds of it. Yet, 3U is more pricey than Lai Foong restaurant.

All things considered, I would definitely recommend Lai Foong restaurant over 3U. It's a shame that Lai Foong's location is somewhat sequestered in the residential area and not that easy to be discovered.

Despite it's somewhat "regular" facade, the interior is actually pretty cool and comfy.

If you live near or in the Cheras area and would like to give it a try, the exact location of Lai Foong restaurant is 3.088195,101.735613 on Google Maps.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Top 5 Treat List

Nuffnang Malaysia is holding a contest to give away a few Dell laptops. To participate in the contest, all I have to do is share 5 things that I would like to treat myself to (Of course, the laptop would have to be in the list as well). I thought this would be an interesting topic and since I could do with a new laptop, so what the heck.

Here goes:

Number 1 - Durians, lots of durians!

If you follow this blog, you'd know I have a deep affection for durians. I would love to treat myself to a truckload of durians and indulge every-single-day, even if that means I will spontaneously combust (durians are known for their heat).

Fill a truck with this and I'm golden.

Number 2 - A nice bicycle.

My main mode of transportation is a car, so why a bicycle? First of all, a bicycle is slow so I can actually smell the roses as I go. Secondly, I have no patience to walk or jog, so a bicycle is a perfect compromise between sweat and speed.

I'd prefer something more chic, though.

Number 3 - Sushi in Japan.

I'm no stranger to the Malaysian variety of sushi. But after being told by a friend who came back from Japan that the food there, especially sushi, is extraordinarily scrumptious, I have made it a personal life goal to go to Osaka and consume all their sushi. MMmmmmm....Salmon....

I can finish this platter all by myself.
(Image credit Sushi Chef Francis Daniel)

Number 4 - Vacation in New Zealand.

Why New Zealand? Because it has been deeply indoctrinated in my brain since childhood, after countless reruns of the Dutch Lady milk TV advertisements, that I must go to New Zealand. You know, like a mindless zombie....who wants to go to New Zealand...and tip their cows.

Somewhere in the picture, hides a cow.
(Image credit

Number 5 - A Dell Inspiron 13.

Lastly, the obligatory item to be eligible for this contest. As a matter of fact, I do need a new laptop. I am currently blogging using a brick of a laptop, so with a new, lighter laptop I can carry it around and blog whenever and where ever, like New Zealand and Osaka :P. Dell's laptop got my attention because of the lollipop TV ad and I would love to win a pink one!

As part of the promotion, Malaysian customers can receive an instant cash redemption of RM 100 if you purchase a Dell Inspiron 13 (S510701MY) from their website or call them at 1800-88-0301. Simply provide the following coupon code 7ZQVQF2RLZRKW3 during your purchase. This promotion lasts until 10 November 2009.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fatty Friday

I went to Kajang for a meeting last Friday. Food lovers in Klang Valley should be familiar with Kajang's most famous delicacy, the Kajang Satay. Even though I have been to Kajang countless times for work purposes, this is, embarassingly, the first time I'm trying out this dish (I've ate Satay before, just not Kajang Satay).

A Satay is basically marinated grilled meat on a bamboo skewer. The meat can be either chicken, beef, mutton or fish. Usually the dish is served with sliced cucumbers, onions and a special peanut sauce for dipping.

Chicken and beef satays with sliced cucumbers.

Along with the special peanut sauce.

Peanut sauce for dipping.

As far as I can tell, there wasn't much difference between Kajang's Satays and the regular Satays you can buy elsewhere in KL. I have never, however, tasted fish Satay before so I might give it a spin next time I stop by the place. If there is anything different about Kajang Satay, I'd say it's the slightly more expensive price.

After having Kajang Satay for lunch, we decided we shouldn't stop there. So, for dinner we drove another hour and a half through heavy rain to Klang, the birthplace of the Bak Kut Teh.

Bak Kut Teh, literally translated as "meat bones soup" in Hokkien, is a popular dish among the Malaysian Chinese. It is a distintively Chinese fare that found its fame in Malaysia. It consists of fatty pork, spare ribs and pig internal organs eg. intestines and stomach linings, in thick, rich herbal soup.

Again, Bak Kut Teh stalls and restaurants can be found all over KL, but they are quite different from those found in Klang. For starters, most Bak Kut Teh in KL have more variety of ingredients, including mushrooms, vegetables, fried tofu and so on, whereas the Klang "originals" consists of only meat, organs and nothing else. The soup is also much thicker in the Klang version. You can also order vegetables as side dishes.

My main peeve with this food trip is that I had to pay more for less, after having suffered a difficult trip and spending a good half hour looking for the particular shop where we wanted to dine in.

meat, meat and more meat. Then there are the organs.

After another ardous trip back to KL, we returned to our trusty mamak stall to enjoy nasi lemak for supper.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Asam Laksa

If you are a Malaysian, you will definitely know what is Asam Laksa. It's a soup based noodle that tastes sourish, spicy and sweet. Asam literally means tamarind in English and Laksa refers to the thick rice noodles. The ingredients consist of laksa noodles, shredded mackeral fish, sliced cucumbers, onions, chillies, pineapples, mint leaves and sweet thick shrimp paste. As you can guess from the ingredients, the dish pretty much include the entire gamut of taste sensations, although it is dominantly spicy and sour. If you like your Laksa to be more zesty you can always squeeze in more lime, which is usually provided (as shown in the picture above, on the spoon).

I am always on the look out for good Asam Laksa and fortunately in Malaysia, there are no short of restaurants or hawker centers that offers a variety of tasty and unique blends, some with slightly different ratios of sourness and spiciness.

These pictures were taken at a Hawker center in Cheras, KL. The stall is operated by a middle-age gentleman and for RM 4.00, the ingredients are pretty generous. I'd say as far as KL goes, this is one of my favourite Asam Laksa stall.

If you like to give it a try, you can find the stall at these coordinates in google maps: 3.082721,101.737056

Fishy goodness.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bukit Tinggi Trip

Last Friday we took half a day off to visit Bukit Tinggi (literally means Tall Hill in Malay), some sort of highland resort but unlike Genting Highlands or Cameron Highlands, is nowhere as high or as cold.

Years ago, the resort was opened with much fanfare, introducing it's French and Japanese themed tourist spots as the main attractions. So, we thought it's time we pay a visit to check out what the hype is all about.

Although technically located in Pahang, the place is rather near to KL, about 30-40 km from where I live via the MRR2 expressway. However, after going past the unguarded guardhouse, we have to drive for another 20 minutes through a narrow and winding road before reaching the drive-thru ticket booths.

What could have inspired such an explicit warning?

There are four main areas that we wanted to visit: the Colmar Tropicale, Botanical Garden, Japanese Village and a rabbit farm. The RM 10 ticket purchased at the ticket booth includes the entrance for everything except the rabbit farm, which we found out was actually located before the ticket booth.

Colmar Tropicale
The Colmar Tropicale was inspired by the 16th Century Colmar Village in Alsace, France, except it is located in the middle of a tropical forest (hence "tropicale"). There are French themed architectures, carnival stalls and restaurants inside the village and, believe it or not, an arcade center.

The entrance.

French building lookalikes does not a French village make.

Cuckoo Clock Tower.

To mildly put it, it was an underwhelming experience. Giving your restaurants Frenchy names and installing French-like buildings, or even asking your hotel reception staffs to wear French themed uniforms, does not make it a French village. The least you could do is get some people to walk around or man the stalls in French period costumes and maybe, just maybe, speak with an European accent. And where are the mimes?!

Botanical Garden
First of all, we're pretty displeased at the fact that we need to take a 10 minutes hike by foot up a ridiculously steep hill because for some reason, they won't let us drive into the area even though there are perfectly legitimate and empty parking bays up there. The botanical garden is located halfway up the slope, before the Japanese village. It might be associated with the village as there is a Japanese restaurant in the garden.

The entrance.

The botanical garden and it's botanical...things.

At first, the garden looks promising, with a nice pond and a small stream running across the entrance path. Then, as we venture deeper, it begins to appear like a garden in the middle of a jungle, except the plants are labeled with their scientific names. Honestly, we were fully expecting to encounter a wild tiger in there, probably with its scientific name on a tag around its' neck.

Japanese Village
Like it's namesake, a Zen garden-like path leads into the Japanese village features a Japanese tea house and small shack. There are also a small stream and a customary Koi pond. At the entrance was a large signboard outside that awkwardly announces that this is "the world's first Japanese tea house in a tropical forest"!

The tea house

In case you are curious, I think this stream is artificial.

Oddly, we weren't allowed to enter the tea house and they were peddling boxes of green tea satchets which I could've bought from the supermarket for a cheaper price. Other than that, the Japanese Village is by far the best place of the three even though it is relatively the smallest. I would like to say that the Japanese Village alone is worth the ticket price, but the Colmar Tropicale and Botanical Garden left a bad taste in my mouth.

Rabbit farm
The rabbit farm was an afterthought because we only remembered to visit it while on our way back.

Itchy rabbits.

Kung Fu Storks

There were only three other people in the farm, and one of them was a farm keeper. The ticket counter was unoccupied, so we simply waltzed in and nobody seemed to mind. Other than the rabbits, there were also storks, donkeys and know, like a zoo. It was fortunate we did not pay for the entry, the place was practically deserted and was looked literally like a poorly maintained farm than a tourist attraction.

The Verdict
First of all, we visited the place on a Friday morning, so that might explain the lack of other visitors / tourists. But I can't help but feel that what made Bukit Tinggi famous in the first place is no longer there, as if the place has suffered from a budget slash yet there is a new hotel under construction there. If you're planning a visit, you might have better luck on weekends where there might be a crowd to lift the ghost town vibe, perhaps making it easier to ignore the shortcomings that plagues the resort.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Winter Melon Dessert

Over the weekend, we finally picked the first winter melon from the garden.

We have tried a winter melon dessert in the past and we enjoyed it so much, my youngest sister, who we nicknamed Furball, suggested that she make the dessert again. Of course, we were only too keen to agree.

The preparation of the dessert began by slicing off the top part of the winter melon. The part that was removed was set aside first. The core of the winter melon was then removed together with the seeds.

The core and seeds were removed simply by scooping it out with a spoon.

The ingredients: white rock sugars and dried longans were then placed inside the hollowed core. There are no set rule as to how much you should put in, it is entirely up to your own preference and of course, the size of the winter melon.

The white, translucent bits are the rock sugars.

Next, we filled the core with water and closed it with the top of the melon that was removed earlier. The melon was then wrapped in aluminium foil to prevent water/vapour to come into contact with the winter melon during the double boiling process.

The melon was actually completely wrapped instead of an open top like this.

The melon was then left to cook for about 4 hours.

Fresh from the pot.

Lastly, we scooped out the flesh together with the contents and transferred them to a bowl, ready to be served. Furball said that it is best served cold along with canned longans.

This winter melon dessert is known to help clear the heat and toxins from your body, as well as improve metabolism. But best of all, it tastes heavenly!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A fist full of hare

There are almost as many pets in my home as there are people. We have four dogs, sometimes six when 4E needs to sit for her friend's two dogs.

About 7 months ago, we added a rabbit to the family. Due to our lack of experience in naming rabbits, he was eventually named...Rabbit.

Rabbit came to us as a one week old baby:

We love to hold him like this in our hands and go all gaga over the him.

When he was about one month old, we discovered that he was shedding fur excessively, especially around the feet where the skin has become crusty and flaky, courtesy of mite infestation. After a couple of agonizing months and three vets later, on top of 4E's unwavering patience and TLC (not to mention hundreds of $$ in vet fees), he was finally cured.

Note the crusty hind feet.

Today, Rabbit has grown up to become a handsome young furball.

He is a pretty moody bunny, and not very fond of wood shavings.

Embarrassingly, we always thought that HE was a SHE until a few weeks ago, when his male parts begin to emerge from his fur.

In the past couple of months, Rabbit has become 4E's favourite furry companion. In fact, my sisters and I have often lamented that Rabbit feeds better than us, which might not be an exaggeration.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mint Condition

While I'm no expert in gardening, I do like to plant something now and then. The picture below are the mints I planted today. Not sure what type of mint, spearmint perhaps?

You're not suppose to take pictures with front on angles like this, so I am told. But anyway....

Another batch my sister planted some time ago.

On another note, the chilies that I am attempting to grow seems to be dying (again). If you have any tips as to how I can salvage them, please let me know!

Weed, formerly known as Chili.