Ask me…

I am not an avid photographer – it is not my hobby and neither am I one by profession. Yes, I do take photographs using my cheap and simple digicams but they are mainly for my blog posts, solely for the purpose of illustration.

When I first started, I was using my handphone camera so of course, the snapshots then were far from nice but it did not matter much to me then – as long as they served the purpose, that was fine by me. However, after much nagging and pestering, I switched to a small pocket digital camera. Now let me rephrase that! I bought a new one for my girl then so I inherited her old one, a hand-me-down that I could then use in place of my handphone one. The new one did not come cheap, around RM1K then as it was newly released – I did buy the same one sometime later for only RM800.  I bought a newer model during the Hari Raya sales recently for only RM299.00 (as I was struggling with the one my girl bought for me at the end of last year)…and the other day, I saw that they still have it in their current promotion…for only RM277.00. I guess that would give you a fair idea as to the kind of “equipment” I have at hand to take all my photographs. Nothing fancy, nothing sophisticated, that’s for sure!

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that many, bloggers and non-bloggers alike, take a long time to snap a shot of just one dish, trying to get a good angle and all that, right down to even rearranging the presentation or doing something to make up for the lack of it. Not me! I would just go click…click..let’s eat!!!

Well, I guess some of the photographs that I took did turn out pretty good, by hook or by crook – good enough for people to want to take for their own use. I did mention about one instance here where my photograph was used by some writer and published on what I think is an online magazine. I did comment to complain that it was taken without the decency of asking for permission and somebody replied saying that yes, they have credited the photograph now and added that they take these things very seriously. I wonder about the other photographs though – I do know for a fact that a few of them, at least, were taken from other blogs…but I guess since they never said a thing, they just let sleeping dog lie, so to speak. Then, there was also the case of a photograph of mine being used on somebody’s Facebook post on Kelantan cuisine – I did go and comment but whoever it was, he or she just turned a deaf ear…or as they say, there is none so blind as he or she who will not see.

More recently, I noticed some links on my Site Stats from pinterest so I clicked on those to have a look. I found out that some people have shared two of my photographs there, complete with the links and the complete posts some more. I mentioned that on Facebook and somebody told me that that is the whole purpose of that website – for people to pin photographs of interest to share with everybody. It seems that some of my friends are among them and there are quite a number of my photographs, a lot more than just two, that have been pinned…by them or by some strangers, whoever they may be.

That prompted me to go on some kind of a witch hunt to see where my photographs have gone to and I found these…

Sibu Airport 1Sibu Airport 2

…from this website of the Sibu Airport  taken when it was newly-opened.

This one on the left…

Kueh kosuiSumber Rejeki

from this blog was probably taken during the days when I was using my handphone camera, hence, the poor quality but it did not look too bad, reduced to a very small size. The original of the one on the right that I got from here was very much nicer but in the process of being downsized, it seems to have lost its quality.

This one of the durian flowers

Durian flowersTelur ikan terubok masin

…was also taken using my handphone camera, if I recall correctly whereas around the time when I took this one of the telur ikan terubok masin, I was already using my girl’s hand-me-down digicam. I definitely have some very much nicer photographs of the flowers in my very recent post on the delicacy.

This one…

Midin belacan

…was taken and used in an article in another of those online magazines, I think while I found this one…

Kopi-o-peng

…from this blog, probably belonging to somebody in Singapore.

Now this one…

Penang lobak

…was used here to promote the Cebil Market Food Court at Lebuh Cecil in Penang but I have never been there before! That platter of goodies actually came from the Red Garden Hawker Centre along Penang Road – I don’t think it is the one and the same place.

No, no, no, don’t get me wrong! I do not mind these people taking my photographs and using them, not at all. I guess I should feel somewhat flattered that they liked what they saw and chose mine over so many others that they could have chosen from. So don’t ask me to watermark my photographs – I certainly would not bother to do so. For one thing, if you have your watermark at the sides or the top or bottom, they can easily crop it away and if you have it right in the middle, that may spoil the photograph…or they may still use it just like that, like this one here in their menu, dunno if they paid her for the use of her photograph or not.

At least, they have given me due credit for the photographs – I am sure there are others who have helped themselves as they like and kept very quiet about it. Whatever the case is, I do think it would be very nice to just drop a brief comment to ask me. Instead of simply taking and using like that, just let me know about it beforehand. I would think that would be a show of sheer courtesy, doing something like that. If you look at the comments on this post, you will see a few people asking for permission to use the poem that I wrote and of course, I said yes! Why not?

These boots are made for walking…

No, no…nobody sent me any boots…nor shoes, just a shoe box…

Shoe box

– a shoe box meant for running shoes, if I am not wrong. As for what was inside, read on… LOL!!!

My friend, Rose, in Kuching PM-ed me via Facebook asking me to collect something that she would be sending me via one of our local bus companies. Oh no! I quickly told her not to go through all that trouble as I know Kuching Sentral is quite far away – I did go past it on my way from Kuching to Serian and home that day. However, she said it was perfectly all right as she would be sending it via one company that has its own ticketing office and station closer to home, somewhere opposite her son’s kindy so she would be going that way anyway. Ok, since she insisted, I said ok…and waited to see what was in store.

Now, what on earth would she be sending me? The suspense was killing! It could not possibly be food as I asked if I should collect it on the same day but she said, no and I was to go the next day instead. Hmmmm…so that would rule out mooncakes. That was my wild guess since the festival is just round the corner, sometime at the end of next week, if I am not mistaken.

After she had sent it, she PM-ed me again sending me a photo of the box, captioned, “No, not shoes inside!” and another one of the receipt. I downloaded the latter and printed it out so I could take it to the bus terminal to claim the consignment…which I did and as soon as I got home, I quickly opened it to see what was inside…

Hungry Jacks pancake mix

A box of pancake mix made in the US of A!!! I think I do recall seeing her making pancakes using this and blogging about it so I asked if it was good. I always made pancakes from scratch so I never paid much attention to the ones we have here – I think they’re all those of a local brand, Nona. Now, what appealled to me most, of course, would be the part where one only has to add water to it and fry. Ooooo…I can’t wait to try but that would have to wait till my girl is home. I hope when the time comes, I will remember to take some photographs when I get down to it so I can blog about it.

She also sent me a box of this lovely nyonya sauce

Gimson nyonya sauce

…that I got from my friend, Merryn, in KL a long time ago. I used it to cook in more ways than one and yes, it was very nice and yes, I finished all that was in the bottle a long time ago. It will only expire in December, 2016 so there is no hurry to finish all of it soon – I think I will save it for use on special occasions especially when I do not know when I will be getting anymore. I have not seen it anywhere around here so I guess it is not available locally.

Thank you so very much, Rose, for sending me these goodies…

Goodies from Rose

You shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble really! Please don’t send me anything anymore – just wait till I hop over to Kuching again and we can go jalan jalan cari makan or we can do that should you be coming this way anytime soon. I sure am looking forward to that!

Something for you…

My niece, my brother-in-law’s daughter who is working in Singapore, was home to celebrate her birthday. The sweet girl travels very frequently to places abroad and everywhere she went, she would buy a whole lot of things to bring home and give to us. That was why to reciprocate, I went to this bakery (2.311137,111.831564)…

Aroma Bakery
*Archive photo*

…in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah here to buy something for her to enjoy – their very nice chicken pies…

Aroma Bakery chicken pie 1

The price has gone up now though – it was RM2.80 when they first started and it kept going up till it got to RM3.50 each the last time I bought some. It is now RM3.70 but it does not matter much as the pastry is still as good as ever and the filling just as nice…

Aroma Bakery chicken pie 2

After all, in the face of our frail economy and the ever-dwindling value of the ringgit, what has not increased in price?

I think I did mention before that I was no fan of coconut tarts until I tasted theirs…

Aroma Bakery coconut tarts 1

…and since then, I would make it a point to buy some home everytime I drop by the shop. Thankfully, the price is still the same – a ringgit each, 2 for RM2.00 but it actually started off at RM1.80 for 2, 90 sen each, before that.

I thought the tart shell tasted a little harder than usual that day but other than that, they were as good…

Aroma Bakery coconut tarts 2

…as ever and I enjoyed them all the same.

I noticed there were some new things at the bakery including these ang koo (4 for RM2.50)…

Aroma Bakery ang koo

…except that they were green, not red in colour. The lady boss kept reiterating that pandan leaves were used for the skin and no artificial colouring was used in the making.

There were only two packets left and I decided to buy one to try only to find out that I should have grabbed both as they were really very good! Yes, as you can see, the skin was rather thick…

Aroma Bakery ang koo 2

…but it did not matter as it was so very well-made, so soft and nice and not so rubbery and difficult to chew (and swallow) like some that I have had before…plus it was so fragrant with the pandan. The mung bean filling was the same as the usual though there was not all that much of that. Ah well! I guess one can’t expect much for around 60 sen each, right? I am not sure how much the regular ones cost elsewhere but these were not very big – maybe half the size only…but considering that they were really very nice, I sure would not mind if they could make them bigger and sell at RM1.00 each or at double the price.

At the time of writing, I am already thinking of going back there to buy more. Maybe my mum would love them as well…

Making today a perfect day…

I’ve shared the video clip and lyrics of this song here sometime ago but unfortunately, it has been removed “due to multiple third party notifications of copyright infringement” even though it is still available for viewing on the website proper

I love the song so much as it holds a special meaning for me in my heart.

The lyrics in the song are somewhat relevant where my girl, in her capacity as a teacher, is concerned like when it says:
Journey far and travel safe
Make this world a better place
…even though the school where she is teaching now is not all that far. One thing’s for sure, she is trying her utmost best there to
teach your children how to sing and dance
…teaching the little kids in the hope that it will make the world a better place for them specifically and for the society and country at large.

And these lines, later in the song, of course, say it all:
Try to be the best you can
Show compassion to every man
And always take the higher ground
I’ll be right by your side

I hear your laughter echo through this house
I miss you, all of this there is no doubt
I wasn’t perfect, this I would admit
I was always trying to make the pieces fit

Don’t ask me now where all the time has gone
I’ve loved you since the minute you were born
So many times we have laughed and cried
I see you now – it fills my heart with pride

Her actual birthdate is today – the 17th of September but when we went to collect her birth certificate, the people at the office somehow got the date wrong and it is registered officially as the 18th instead. We celebrated it earlier last Saturday

Melissa's brithday cake

…but nonetheless, there will be another round when she comes home tomorrow for the weekend, followed by the mid-term holidays.

In the meantime, HAPPY BIRTHDAY again, love, and here’s hoping that today and every other day will be a perfect day for you. As I always say in my prayers, may the Good Lord protect you and keep you in good health and safe from all harm each passing day and may He grant you strength physically, emotionally and spiritually and guide and guard you always in all that you do.

Quick…

Last Sunday, we went to church in the morning as we had the double birthday celebration dinner the night before and we could not go for the sunset service. After that, we stopped by here briefly, our second time there, for a quick bite before heading home to get everything and go on our way to send my girl back to her school for the week.

It appeared to me that they have done up the place a bit with nicer photographs at the stall…

A-One stall

…and a bigger display on the wall inside.

My missus had the kolo mee (RM4.00)…

A-One kolo mee

…that she had the previous time and liked a lot while my girl opted for the kampua pian sip (RM2.80)…

A-One pian sip kampua

…and she said that it was all right. I did try a bit of the noodles and though I thought it was nicely done, firm and not soft and soggy or starchy and sticky, I felt that they could cut down a bit on the msg. I certainly would request that they do that should I be dropping by here again as I seem to have grown extra-sensitive to the white stuff ever since I have reduced or stopped using it at home.

Thankfully, my century egg meat porridge (RM5.00)…

A-One century egg meat porridge

…was fine. With the horrendous haze around here, even though it is not as bad as at certain places, I was fighting back a flu so I decided to have that instead of any of the noodles.

I enjoyed it very much especially with the fragrance of the added fried shallots and garlic…

A-One porridge

…in it. Thankfully, I spotted just two little bits of tang chai (salted preserved radish) and was able to pick them out and put them aside – I am never a fan of that even though I do not mind it in soups and other dishes but I would not just leave it behind, uneaten.

We finished our orders quickly and were soon on our way…

Share this day…

No, they do not have their birthdays on the same date. My niece, my brother-in-law’s daughter, that is, the one working in Singapore, celebrated hers yesterday…

Birthday cake 1

…and my girl’s is coming up real soon later this week…

Birthday cake 2

…but for convenience sake, we celebrated the two together last Saturday night.

Yes, there were two cakes that night! My missus went and ordered one, thinking that they could cut it together but my in-laws got one too so in the end, they got to cut their own. LOL!!!

We went back to this restaurant again as we like the food there plus it is not in the town proper – it would not be a great idea to venture there as Sibu was the centre for the celebration of the head of state’s official birthday and there had been massive jams even in the days preceding the main event.

I had one ngor bee th’ng

Ngor bee th'ng 1

…all to myself like I said I would the last time we were there and for the uninitiated, it is some kind of Chinese cooling drink/dessert…

Ngor bee th'ng 2

– nice and cold and very refreshing.

I don’t know if it is just a figment of my imagination…or whether it was because on some days, I might be hungrier or had a better appetite than on other days but I seemed to notice that at this place, though what they dished out was generally very good, I thought that at times, some were better or otherwise. That night, for instance, I loved the Foochow tofu soup…

Foochow tofu soup
*Niece’s photo on Facebook*

…with canned oysters a lot more than the last time I had it and I was quite positive that I could taste some crab meat in the lovely soup.

It was the same too with the fried cangkuk manis with egg…

Fried cangkuk manis with egg

…that my mother-in-law wanted and we could recall that we liked their salted egg chicken very much when we had it sometime ago but what we had that night…

Salted egg chicken

…was very much nicer with the very strong taste of the salted egg yolk coating the chunks of chicken.

Everybody loved the pork with cincaluk (fermented shrimps) dip…

Pork with cincaluk dip

…but I feel that when I first had it a long time ago, the meat was not as hard and dry but despite that, it was still very good.

Some of us were of the opinion that the fried mee sua (longevity string/thread noodles)…

Fried mee sua

…was nicer than many other places in town and my brother-in-law’s favourite, the tri-egg omelette…

Tri-egg omelette

– the salted egg, century egg and regular egg combo, also seemed to look nicer this time around but I thought their prawns with young coconut…

Prawns with young coconut

…were nicer the first time we had it or perhaps it was because we had never tasted it before and we were simply overwhelmed by it then whereas this was the second time around so we knew what to expect already, more or less.

All in all, it was a great dinner and the best part was the fact that with so many dishes for seven people, the bill only came up to RM135.00 inclusive of drinks and one bowl of rice. We all thought that was really cheap…and since it was our girl’s birthday and my niece had treated us all the time, we picked up the tab this round.

Happy birthday once again, girls. Here’s wishing the two of you all the very best in the year ahead and God bless always. Cheers!!!

Be together…

How good it is to be able to be together to share the joy of a happy event like a wedding or a birthday…and it sure was great last Friday that we were able to do that to celebrate my mum’s 85th.

After the delightful dinner that we had not too long ago, my dad wanted to order the dishes from the same restaurant again so of course, we had what my mum enjoyed the most that previous time, the chess or checkerboard duck…

Chess duck

…thus named as the squares were arranged like a chess board.

My girl came home in time that evening for the weekend and we had her favourite from the last time, the deep fried pomfret fillet with the very nice sauce…

Pomfret fillet with sauce

…as well.

We also had this then – their poon choy-like hot plate with prawns and abalone and a whole lot of other delightful stuff…

Hot plate

…one of our two versions of the Four Seasons, the other one being the so-called leng pua, meaning cold plate and it was good so we had that again.

I loved the stewed pork belly…

Stewed pork belly

…eaten sandwiched in between pieces of mantou so much that I just could not resist having two! Yum yummmm!!!!!

There was also this dish of asparagus…

Asparagus

…with mushrooms and some kind of snails and also this one with the huge sea cucumber…

Sea cucumber

…both of which were pretty good as well.

We had the longevity mee sua in chicken soup earlier in the day so for a change, we had this dish of fried noodles…

Fried noodles

…and that was great too!

I remembered how my mum loved the macarons the last time so I went and bought some more…

Macarons

…for dessert, my favourite two – the mint…

Mint

…and the salted caramel…

Salted caramel

…that were not as sweet as the rest and it sure pleased me to see her enjoying it, smiling away happily.

It was more expensive this time around, RM460, a little bit more than the last time but that did not come as a surprise as the sea cucumber does not come cheap, especially those big ones and asparagus isn’t either, not here…and I am sure those snails that they cooked it with was a special delicacy as well…plus that hot plate alone would be more than RM100 already, I’m sure.

Of course, on occasions such as this, nothing beats seeing everyone’s smiling faces, all so happy to be able to be together to celebrate the special event and enjoy the scrumptious dinner.

I’m so excited…

Indeed, I was so excited when I saw this banner…

Banner

…at this shop (2.293347,111.821331)…

Shop

…the first one in the block of shops to the left of Paramount Hotel (this one that I’ve blogged about a few times before is the last one in that same block). “The best in town“? Where would I be able to find the 2nd best or 3rd best…or not so best? I wonder if anybody can enlighten me on this for as far as I know, this is the only place around here selling this.

Now, why was I so excited, you may ask? All this while, I have heard talk about this ice cream in Kuching, how very nice it is and how there would be long queues of people all the time lining up to buy but unfortunately, when I went to Kuching that day, I dropped by the Open Air Market in the morning hoping to give it a try but it was closed – they told me that it would only be open in the afternoon around 4 something. Thus, I had to leave the place disappointed and no, in the end, I did not get the chance at all during my brief stay there.

For the uninitiated, gula apong is our version of palm sugar. The one in the peninsula would be derived from the coconut tree and is called gula Melaka while ours here is from the nipah palm, found growing wild among the mangrove swamps in the lower reaches of our majestic Rejang River. In Chinese (Hokkien), we call it attap therng or attap sugar, attap being what was made from the leaves and used in the old days for the thatched roofs of houses. So ais krim gula apong would be simply ice cream served with the sugar…

ais krim gula apong 1

I asked the man at the stall…

Stall

…and he said that it would be RM3.00 each but if you want to add any of those things in the plastic jars with the red covers, those would be an additional 80 sen each.

The ice cream was like those soft-serve ice cream that you can find easily at places like Sugar Bun or McD and the one here was very good – very smooth and nice, vanilla flavour. I asked for the peanut and Nestum but somehow, I could not taste the latter…

Ais krim gula apong

…and I was charged RM3.80 only so my guess is the guy probably just gave me one of the two.

So was it really all that great? Well, it was nice, I can’t deny that, and the gula apong with the ice cream came across to me like salted caramel, and that was something that I liked about it. However, at the end of the day, I would have to say that unfortunately, it did not get me jumping up and down with delight unlike the durian ice cream…

Payung durian ice cream
*Archive photo: Payung Cafe’s durian ice cream*

here. That one sure has an edge over this and has that wow factor! Everyone who has had it would, without doubt, be wanting to go back for more whereas in the case of this one, I don’t know if it has that same effect on other people but no, it sure did not bowl me over, not at all. Of course, the durian ice cream is more expensive, RM8.00 but it has fresh durian cream in it and the serving is bigger, around double that of this ais krim gula apong…and considering the satisfaction derived, no prize for guessing which one I would much sooner go for.

I can do it…

I guess most everybody knows by now that I do not watch television at home but when I go over to my parents’ place every morning to spend sometime with my mum, if she is awake and sitting up, chances are the tv will be on and she would  be watching some travel and food or cooking show. The other day, this handsome celebrity Malaysian chef and his mum were on and one of the dishes they cooked was fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and potatoes. Potatoes? Now, that was interesting! I did not really pay attention but it gave me the idea of serving deep-fried potato cubes or wedges tossed with this very familiar dish…

Payung fried ikan bilis
*Archive photo: Payung’s fried ikan bilis with onions*

…and I was pretty sure it would be nice.

Well, the other day, I thought of giving it a try as some two weeks ago, my Bintulu brother-in-law gave us one buah sukun (breadfruit), a very huge one almost twice the size of a football. There are many ways to cook the fruit but my missus would usually just cut it into slices and deep-fry lightly to store in the fridge and we would eat it slowly with peanut butter or kaya (coconut jam) like bread. We still had quite a lot left…

Deep fried sukun slices

…so I decided that I would use them to cook something like what I had seen on that tv show.

It was already deep fried so that would save me the trouble of doing that. All I had to do was to cut the slices into cubes…

Cut into cubes

…and get all the other ingredients ready.

Somehow somewhere along the way, I got sidelined and ended up cooking something like one of my many versions of fried rice with the finely-chopped garlic, sliced shallots, chopped spring onions and chilies…

Ingredients

…and ikan bilis and bubuk (dried shrimps).

I fried the ikan bilis in some oil till golden brown and crispy and pushed those aside and then I fried the shallots and garlic, also till golden brown…before throwing in the bubuk and the chili and mixing everything well. Once done, I added the sukun cubes and the spring onions, sprinkled a bit of pepper (optional) and dished it out…

Sukun with pusu and bubuk 1

My!!! It certainly was very very nice…

Sukun with pusu and bubuk 2

…with the lovely taste of the sukun complemented by the garlic and the fragrance of the ikan bilis and bubuk and all the other ingredients that went into the dish, with no added salt or msg!

I think I can do this same thing with potatoes as well. Hopefully, I will get down to trying that soon.

Everything red…

I’ve been here a few times before though I have not gone there for quite a while now. I do recall that what I had there on those occasions were not too bad including the pek ting eyok mee sua. Well, the other day, I decided to stop by there with my missus for brunch as I was feeling like having some of those longevity string noodles in traditional red wine chicken soup.

If anybody is wondering where this coffee shop (2.322037,111.837046) is, you will find it in the block of shops on your left as you turn round the corner from Sing Ang Tong/Kwong Ann (or if you are coming straight ahead from the direction of RTM or SMK Kpg Nangka) – the poslaju main office is on your right – just before you turn round the corner into Sungai Merah bazaar…

Hua Kwong Corner
*streetview screenshot from Google Maps*

Upon arrival at the place, I noticed some changes in the stalls. The mee sua stall was nowhere to be seen but I saw the photographs on the kampua stall so I placed my order for that. My missus asked for the ang chao kampua (RM5.00)…

Hua Kwong Corner ang chao kampua

…which had the meat cooked in ang chao

Hua Kwong Corner ang chao pork

– the lees or the residue of the red yeast rice from making the traditional Foochow red wine. I did try a bit and I thought it was pretty good just that I would prefer the noodles to be done like the regular kampua mee and served with the ang chao pork, not tossed with the ang chao gravy as I felt that was somewhat an overkill. Of course I may be biased – others may love it this way – but my missus cooks this all the time so it really is not anything that I would get excited about as I would get to eat that so very often at home.

When I wanted to pay for our orders, the waitress collected for the kampua only and said that I would have to pay for the mee sua separately when it was served. It seemed that it was from some other place, not the same one as the kampua stall, somewhere inside the shop and I did not bother to go and check so at this point in time, I do not have the slightest idea what kind of arrangement they have there.

It did come soon enough (RM5.00)…

Hua Kwong Corner mee sua 1

…in this very nice bowl with a lid.

Yes, it was good with lots of the very nice red wine in the soup…

Hua Kwong mee sua

…and just the right amount of ginger, quite a lot of it but not too much – I would not like it too gingery.

There were just two small pieces of chicken…

Hua Kwong Corner mee sua 3

…and one small shitake mushroom but that was perfectly all right by me as I am more into the noodles and the soup and of course, I love eggs in any form and there was a hard-boiled one in it. I sure enjoyed that and I certainly would not mind going back there again anytime I feel like having this.

There was a stall in front of the shop selling fritters and a whole lot of stuff that looked quite good. I ordered the popiah (RM1.00)…

Hua Kwong Corner popiah

…and it was not too bad – nothing like my own homemade ones or the ones that I love, available only on weekends (RM2.50 each) but this is only a ringgit so really, one can’t expect all that much.

I really liked this a lot though – some bihun or whatever filling…

Hua Kwong Corner stuffed tofu puff 1

…stuffed in tauhu pok (tofu puffs) and deep fried and it…

Hua Kwong Corner stuffed tofu puff 2

…was only RM1.00 each.

I was not able to take a snapshot of the stall as by the time we finished our noodles, the girl had already cleared everything.  I do not know why they do not keep on selling right through lunchtime – according to her, she would fry the things for sale in the morning till after around 10 to 11.00 a.m. and would resume at around 3.00 p.m. for those dropping by for tea and she did say that the response from the general public had been consistently good. I guess I would have to drop by again another day to try whatever else she may have to see if there is anything else that is as nice.