That’s the way I like it…

Sometimes, especially after having been eating out a lot, I would yearn for some simple food. Yesterday, I cooked some sayur masak lemak again or what some people would call sayur lodeh

sayur masak lemak

As usual, I had sweet potatoes, cabbage, bean curd sticks, baby corn, fish balls…and this time I threw in a bit of cangkuk manis, button mushrooms and fresh water prawns, and I also added a bit of hay bee (dried prawns) and belacan to the pounded ingredients; I did not use these the last time as my mother had some itchy rashes. As a result, I think it was much nicer this time around.

For one thing, there are vegetables for roughage and sources of protein in that one dish, so eaten with rice, we would have a balanced meal already. Today I cooked sayur rebus with the leftover sweet potatoes and cangkuk manis (Usually I would not be using all of the RM1.00 bundle as there is simply too much of it!)…..

sayur rebus

…and since it was a vegetable soup dish, I had to prepare something else for protein. Most of the time, my wife would go to do the marketing…and whenever I want to cook, I would just have to make do with what is in the refrigerator. Well, I found this bundle of pork in the freezer so I just boiled it…and pounded some belacan to eat it with.

Boiled pork and belacan

I wonder if you all know it or not, but boiled pork, roast pork, phak lor pork/pork leg (in soy sauce and five spice powder) and so on will taste much nicer with belacan! Ok! OK! The fatty pork isn’t exactly good for health…but my wife always insists on buying such three-layer pork cuts as she feels the meat is nicer! I always tell her that I’ve this uncanny suspicion that she is trying to kill me! LOL!!! Anyway, we would just eat the lean and throw away the fat (which I feel, is such a waste)! 

I did not have much time nor the necessary ingredients like prawns and bean curd skin, otherwise I could mince the pork (then you do not get to see all that fat! Hahahahaha!!! What you don’t know won’t hurt you!) and make ngor hiang (meat roll)…..

Ngor hiang

Well, it’s Friday tomorrow and usually, I do not eat meat. Perhaps I’ll just cook some sweet and sour fish fillet, with cucumber and tomatoes and eat that with some rice…and that again would be a balanced meal by itself…..

Sweet and sour fish fillet

Well, it certainly beats eating out as not only is it cheaper but there is not that much oil used and a lot less salt and msg. Often, after eating out, I would feel very thirsty and end up drinking a lot of water…but not when I eat my own cooking at home…and that’s the way I like it!!!

My boy…

This is an adaptation of a short story that I like very much. The original is entitled “Christmas Boy”; I don’t know who the writer is. In fact, I first read this story in a school examination paper a long time ago. A colleague had chosen to use it as the comprehension passage.  Well, I have changed it quite a bit to give it a Malaysian setting…..

Kamelia and her husband were indeed baffled at the sight of the crowd at their Hari Raya Puasa open house.  They had been forewarned regarding this but never in their wildest dreams had they expected their relatives from far and wide and even their neighbours – regardless of colour and creed – to show up by the droves, each bringing a special home-cooked delicacy to share with one and all.  Every corner echoed with the drone of their chatter, and also the laughter and shrieks of the excited and happy children among them and the whole house seemed to glow with warmth and love once again, exactly like how it was years ago when Aidil Fitri was around…


Hari Raya lamps (selinz's


                        It used to be a lonely and quiet affair, Hari Raya at her own house when she was growing up.  Unlike most children, Kamelia did not look forward to the occasion because she had no siblings to share the excitement with.  She was the only child.  “When I grow up, Mak, I’m going to have no less than six kids of my own,” she had announced one day, and her mother just smiled pensively at her candid remark.


                        At twenty-four, she met Mr. Right and soon tied the knot.  However, they did not imagine that they would be plagued by the problem of producing children.  They reckoned that it was God’s way of testing their patience but as the years rolled by, eventually, they opted for adoption; it was the superstition of some that childless couples would be blessed with their own flesh and blood eventually.


                        It was almost a year before he came, the baby, barely a month old. She named him Aidil Fitri because he had come to her during that joyful season in the Muslim month of Syawal. Then, be it miraculously or by mere coincidence, they had two biological children in succession, and although it was not as many as Kamelia had hoped for, she was thankful enough that at least, it was much better than what it was like for her during her solitary childhood.



Beef rendang (Deddie-sion's photo @


                        As he grew up, Aidil Fitri developed a love for cooking and his culinary skills were known far and wide.  He even perfected his mother’s beef rendang which, already, was reputed to be the best in the neighbourhood.  Everyone made it a point to drop by every Hari Raya just to savour the impeccable taste of his cuisine.  Each year, without fail, Aidil Fitri, who was no less adept with his hands, would personally make all the ketupat shells in a myriad of colours using ribbons to decorate the house.


                        Tragedy struck on his 28th Hari Raya Puasa when he left his family as unexpectedly as he had come.  He died when a speeding car in the balik kampung rush crashed into his vehicle.  At the time, he was on his way home to his dear wife and little daughter after having stopped earlier at his mother’s house to decorate it for the festival and also to give the old lady some of the beef rendang that he had painstakingly prepared for the auspicious occasion.

Road accident (shawnblog's

                        Grief-stricken, Kamelia and her husband sold the house where in every nook and cranny, they would be haunted and tormented by memories of Aidil Fitri.  They settled in a small house in the country, away from the hustle and bustle and the bright city lights.  Their life in this desolate place reminded Kamelia of her lonely childhood and each year, Hari Raya Puasa would pass unnoticed.  Kamelia’s second son moved to Sabah after he got married and he would carry on the Hari Raya traditions with his own family there.  Her third son, a lawyer, seemed fulfilled by his career and was not very much into these traditional festivities.  As soon as the holidays arrived each year, he would take off to some posh holiday resort in some inconspicuous corner of the world to laze and idle around until it was time to get back to work.


                        One day, Kamelia was sitting on the verandah of the wooden house, staring into the far distance at nothing in particular.  She heard a car approaching and when it screeched to a stop right in front of her house, out stepped her granddaughter.  Nek! Nek! Assalamualaikum!” she shrieked in her chirpy voice while waving her arms hysterically from the distance.  Behind her, carrying a huge cardboard box, came her mother.  After paying their respects to Kamelia, they swept past her into the house to put up the decorations.  In her granddaughter’s deep brown eyes and cheeky grin, she saw the reflection of Aidil Fitri and Kamelia recognised the ketupat shells instantly and she felt her warm tears flowing down her cheeks.  They were Aidil Fitri’s; they had kept them all these years…

Hari Raya decor ('s photo/

                        It was a delightful Hari Raya Puasa that year.  Everyone sang praises of the mouth-watering beef rendang prepared by Kamelia’s granddaughter who obviously had not only inherited her father’s facial features but also his gift at cooking.  Some time later that night when everyone had gone home, Kamelia sat alone and a thought flashed through her mind – that a true family would not need to be one’s own flesh and blood.   No doubt he was adopted but even though he had gone away from them, he had left behind so many things that would remind them of his warmth, his love…  The memory of Aidil Fitri would forever stay and be cherished in their hearts. “Thank you, my son,” Kamelia whispered, as she wiped away a tear that had trickled down her cheek.   

Click photo for acknowledgement of image source