This is for you…

My ex-student, Tham, shared on Facebook a photo of the serunding (meat floss, chicken)…

Serunding, chicken

…that he made and I pulled his leg saying, “You still know where my house is, right?” He did drop by once to give me the very nice butter cake from Mita Cake House in Kuching. The next thing I knew he was at my door, sending some of the very nice fruit of his labour for me to enjoy.

His better half, Daisy, also my ex-student, came with him and they had their baby boy with them too. They tied the knot in 2015 and I was at their wedding reception…and now, they have a two-month-old son already, may God bless them all abundantly in all that lie ahead.

They also brought me these…

Oregano 1

…from Daisy’s mum, a very nice lady, also a retired teacher like me. Those are a variety of oregano, so I was told…and this one with the white edges…

Oregano 2

…would be another variety, sweet majoram, I think this is called along with a whole lot of other names, and this one…

Oregano 3

…is probably the same as the latter though I’m not too sure. Daisy did rattle through all the related information but there was a bit too much for this somewhat slow and old brain to register. Hehehehehe!!! According to her, they are very easy to plant – just stick in the soil and that was exactly what I did. For one thing, like all those other herbs, these have a lot of health benefits as well.

She also gave me some mint…

Mint

…which I had before and it grew really well like this pot of daun pegaga (the gotu kola or the Asian pennywort)…

Daun pegaga

…of mine but it gradually withered away and eventually, it was gone. I hope I will be able to do a lot better with this one.

Talking about my daun pegaga, it sure looks really nice, so nice that I decided to move it to the front of the house beside the driveway. It also has a lot of health benefits and is a very common condiment for our ulam though for no obvious reason (other than the fact that we are too lazy to pound the sambal belacan), we hardly ever harvest any to eat.

This is another variety of daun pegaga, the one with a dot in the middle…

Water pennywort or dollar weed

the water pennywort, it is called and it grows rampantly wild in the drains around my house compound and ever so often, I would have to go on my hands and knees to pull them all out and get rid of them. One shop here planted them in pots and was marketing them as “money plants” – they look like coins, they said (and some people call it the dollar weed)! Well, I decided to do the same just for the fun of it in the hope that it will flourish and look as nice as the aforementioned daun pegaga.

Oh yes! Before I forget, thank you so much, Tham & Daisy and your mother-in-law/mum for the serunding and the herbs. Wish me luck with the latter! LOL!!!

ABC…

The other day, we had the ABC soup

Old Street Cafe's ABC soup

…here and we loved it so much!

Like what I said then, I had seen photos of it shared by blogger-mums and others but frankly, from the look of it, I did not think it was anything to get excited about. Of course, I did not know why it is thus called – I only knew of the other ABC, the air batu campur…and there came a whole lot of people telling me all about it. It seems that it is popularly known in Cantonese as lo song tong (羅宋湯), available in the menus at those Hong Kong franchise places over in the peninsula but nobody could explain the name.

One said that possibly, it was because one could add anything from A to Z and another said it was so easy to cook, as easy as ABC like this blogger here who also says it is the Chinese borscht soup. I went to look at some recipes and I saw one using beef and the person concerned grilled the slices of meat in butter first to brown it nicely before use. That reminded me of my late aunt’s soup – we used to enjoy hers very much and yes, I did try cooking it myself once a long time ago. It was very nice though it was not quite the same – you can click the link here to go and have a look at how I/she did it.

Maybe it is a Cantonese thing and Sibu being predominantly Foochow, we do not have it here…or not that I know of, at least. Well, seeing how it was so very nice, I decided to cook my own and I got these ingredients ready…

ABC soup, ingredients

– potatoes, tomatoes, carrot and Bombay onions. Other than those, I also crushed around a teaspoon of black pepper to add to the soup…

ABC soup, crushed pepper

I did not intend for it to be a meat soup so I just used the sides of the chicken parts that I bought, saving the drumsticks and thighs for something else on some other day. I only wanted to use it to make the stock and firstly, I grilled the pieces a bit in a non-stick pan, greased with butter…

Grill the chicken in butter

…and after that, I put them in a pot, filled it with water and turned on the heat. It started boiling soon enough but I just let it go on simmering. One recipe said that I would have to remove the “impurities” using a ladle but there wasn’t much of those flotsam and jetsam but still I did get rid of whatever little there was using a strainer.

After some time, I added everything…

All in

…and brought it back to boil and I let it go on simmering for quite a while before adding some salt according to taste.

Come lunchtime, I served the soup…

My ABC soup 1

…with a sprinkling of chopped spring onion from my garden.

It was very nice…

My ABC soup 2

…but not as nice as what we had at the shop. Maybe it was because we did not add any msg nor did I use any chicken stock or perhaps I would need to simmer it a lot longer. Never mind! We certainly did enjoy it so needless to say, I wouldn’t mind cooking it again sometime but perhaps, I could add more to it, say, some celery perhaps for the added taste and fragrance and I must remember to buy some daun sup (Chinese celery/parsley) the next time I cook this.

Makin’ me look good again…

I sent my car for a thorough bodywork, a complete paint job and all.

It is 24 years old now and the paint was fading in patches, looking pathetically worn and weathered. The left side, at the back, was badly dented

2015

…in 2015 when I went to my girl’s school in the jungle on a Friday to pick her up and take her home – it was pretty obvious that a colleague was in a hurry to go for prayers and probably did not notice my car parked by the side and reversed right into it. To this day, I do not know who it was as nobody ever came to tell me.

The right side was not spared either. I was cruising along one day and decided to change lanes as I wanted to make a u-turn at the traffic lights ahead. Suddenly, somebody rammed me from behind, hitting the car at the side from the back till the passenger’s door, damaging it a lot more severely than what one can see in the above photograph.

It turned out to be the grand-daughter of a relative of mine, right after Form 5 and obviously, a newbie at driving. Never mind, I thought, since we’re family so I offered to pay for whatever repairs that needed to be done. What got me quite pissed me off was the grandma’s remark at that point in time. “Why did you drive so fast?” she said. Gee!!! I was flabbergasted! I could not be sure but I was positive I did not see any car coming and I always use the indicator without fail everytime – the grand-daughter probably stepped on the petrol in a panic instead of the brakes…and if there is a problem with my driving, it is the fact that I am too slow or in the town centre, at least. Old retirees like me are in no hurry to go anywhere…not just yet.

There were, of course, bits of this and that here and there and how they got to be where they were, don’t ask me! I wouldn’t know! Anyway, though the engine was in tip-top shape and I only need to get it serviced regularly – no big problem, no headaches and heartaches, it certainly was not a pleasant sight. The problem was I sold off my other car, the 1st generation SAGA, so I needed this one to go here and there and for my weekend chauffeur duties and I just could not find the time to go and get it done.

Finally, at long last, my Ol’ Faithful went for a makeover and came home looking really good, like brand new…

Looking good again

I decided to stick this…

Wira

…back where it was but I left out the acronym for Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional – they do not have it in their latest models either and  it is not even in their logo…

Logo

…anymore.

This was why in the meantime, we did not go out much and spent most of the time at home. I did cook some dishes for my girl, what I felt she would enjoy, like this Sarawak laksa

Sarawak laksa

…on one of the days.

It has been really hot lately and it sure looks like the haze is coming back – hopefully, it will not be too serious. Well, I think there is this belief that green bean soup is cooling and I did cook this bubur kacang hijau (green bean porridge) with sweet potatoes and sago pearls…

Bubur kacang hijau with sweet potatoes & sago pearls

…to enjoy and also in the hope that it might help cool us off a bit.

My girl also did some cooking and made these gluten-free kuih keria

Melissa's kuih keria

…a local sweet potato delight *click link for recipe* and yes, it was very good.

She tried her hand at cooking the Spanish paella…

Melissa's prawn & chicken paella

…with prawns and chicken, substituting the saffron with serbuk kunyit (turmeric powder), and it turned out very nice. I guess one can’t go wrong with prawns but I thought it would be nice to have, instead of the chicken, more varieties of seafood in it, sotong (squid), mussels, clams and the like. I have never had this before so I am in no position to say whether it was anything like the real thing but we did enjoy it and I guess that was all that mattered.

Share it…

We came across these…

A1 Ak Koh curry laksa noodles & vermicelli

…at a supermarket here the other day and my girl was delighted as vermicelli is gluten-free so she would be able to eat that. They were selling at RM5.00 per packet and I decided to get the one with noodles as well to try.

At that point in time, I thought they were products of Singapore because I noticed that “Singapore taste/Rasa Singapura” phrase. I was thinking that it was very cheap compared to the celebrated made-in-Singapore one which costs no less than RM10.00 A PACKET now and I truly am amazed that there is a supermarket here stocking up on those which obviously means that there is a market and there are people buying, even at that astronomical price. However, upon closer scrutiny, I found that they were made in Malaysia, Johore, to be exact.

I don’t know why they see it fitting to share the limelight or credit or in Malay, tumpang glamor, when it is actually nyonya curry laksa which isn’t quite the same as the curry mee in the central and northern parts of the peninsula and Malacca/Melaka is as much a home to this peranakan culinary delight as Singapore even though I have not heard or read about any place there that is famous for it , only the one in Singapore which we had here and here before but both outlets have since closed down.

Anyway, I tried the one with the noodles…

Two sachets inside

…and inside, there were two sachets, one with the laksa paste (sambal) and the other with the seasoning – it appeared to me like the santan (coconut milk) powder was in the latter sachet.

I cooked the noodles and drained well before putting it in a bowl and then I boiled some more water and emptied the contents of the two sachets into it to cook the gravy. Once boiling, I turned off the heat and poured it over the noodles, served it, garnished with some greens, a few slices of char siew (barbecued meat), an egg and a sprinkling of chopped spring onions…

Cooked & served

…and sat down to enjoy the fruit of my labour.

Yes, I did boil an egg, hard on the outside and runny on the inside…

Egg by the side

…to go with it.

On the whole, I would say it was very nice…

A1 Ak Koh curry laksa moodles

– just like the nyonya curry laksa as I know it to be but considering that kampua mee is RM2.80-3.00 or less and a plate of Foochow fried noodles costs around RM4.00 and this is RM5.00 without the added ingredients and I would have to cook it myself, I certainly would think twice about buying it again.

Of course, it would come in handy for my girl in her school in the jungle for times when she runs out of things to eat or when she does not feel like having much else…and of course, at less than SGD2.00 a packet, this would probably be a steal for Singaporeans coming over across the Causeway.

To your health…

I blogged about my aloe vera plants the other day and somebody asked me if I ate them or not. Well, I did try and make a drink with it once and my girl said it was quite tasteless and besides, I thought it was rather tedious getting the gel out of the leaves for the purpose.

I know of a couple of places where they have the drinks on their menu and I also heard of a lady selling it by the bottles at the Dewan Suarah wet market but I have never tried any of those.

Anyway, since I have a lot, and I have read of a lot of health benefits that one can derive from the drinks and according to this websiteit’s not just physical benefits that you can reap by drinking aloe vera juice, but mental benefits as well. Aloe vera is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stress. Incorporating it into your diet can balance your mood, calm your nerves, and reduce your overall stress levels. That was why I decided to make my own, other than placing them all over the house as air purifiers.

To do that, I took the leaf…

Aloe vera leaf

…cut it into shorter lengths…

Cut short

…before slicing off the thorny edges…

Slice off edges

…and then I removed the green part, front and back…

Remove green skin

…to get the gel inside. It may not be that easy as it is slimy and slippery.

Lastly I cut the gel into thin strips and rinse it again and again to get rid of the slime…

Cut into strips and rinse

The first time around, I boiled some red dates and wolfberries with some pandan leaves in water and then I added the aloe vera and some sugar. It tasted nice but it reminded me of the Chinese cooling sweet potato soup/dessert so the second time I decided to use some lemon instead.

I boiled the lemon juice and slices of the fruit with some pandan leaves, adding a bit of sugar to counter the sourish taste…

With lemon juice

…before adding the aloe vera and it turned out all right…

...and slices of lemon

…but something was not quite there – maybe it was the pandan leaves and it tasted different with the not-all-that-compatible fragrance and taste…

Aloe vera lemon drink

Because of the aforementioned, I did not add any pandan leaves when I made the drink again but using orange juice (Sunkist) instead and my girl loved it! I know one place where they have the aloe vera drink with mulberry but my plant, though it is growing well, has not been bearing fruits for a while now. I wonder why…

These days…

So what have we been up to these days? Nothing much really, I would say – just the usual routine, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

My girl made these gluten-free cheese and almond flour cookies…

Gluten-free cookies

…which turned out very nice but they were not sweet – in fact, they were more on the salty side and she used olive oil following the recipe that she had at hand. I wonder if it would be the same if she had used butter instead as I do prefer its special fragrance and taste.

These deep fried or koi (Chinese steamed yam cake)…

Or koi

…that my missus bought from the Kanowit ladies here were very nice. I could feel the texture of the yam in it – many around here are kind of wobbly and wriggly, the result of too much flour and not enough yam so I would steer clear of those.

She also bought these Nestum-coated mochi with peanut butter filling

Nestum-coated peanut butter mochi

…from the shop round the corner from our house and of course, I was delighted. I am not a fan of mochi but I love these. In the past, they would only get them from Sarikei on Saturdays but for a long while now, they had not done so and it wasn’t a Saturday that day when my missus dropped by there. Of course she wasted no time at all in grabbing a pack for me knowing how much I enjoy them.

We did drop by here that evening for a quick dinner for the simple reason that it is near my house and the guy opens his shop quite early – before 6.00 p.m. The ladies said they were still quite full from our lunch that day so my girl just had their Sarawak laksa (RM5.50)…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa

…and the mum had the fried noodles (RM4.50)…

Colourful Cafe fried noodles

I ordered this bowl of beef noodles (RM6.00)…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles

…with a special request for all the taugeh (bean sprouts) to be omitted as I always feel that it would affect the taste of the soup in some way.

I thought we could share these honey chicken wings (RM9.80)…

Colourful Cafe honey chicken wings

…as well but they said what they had individually would be enough and in the end, I had to finish all three myself.

What about all of you? Been up to anything exciting lately?

COLOURFUL CAFE (2.316673, 111.837539) is located in the Renew4U building at the junction of Brooke Drive and Lorong Kwong Ann 8, across the road from the Church of Jesus  Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

There’s always a first time…

My paternal cousin mentioned in passing that night at his birthday dinner that he had never tried babi hutan (wild boar) before for fear of its gamey smell but he had heard of people cooking it with a whole lot of ginger, lengkuas (galangal), serai (lemon grass), pepper and everything else but of course, you would never catch us doing that, not in my family.

My friend, Mandy, on one of her working trips to Selangau and beyond, did get to eat it cooked that way, probably at the zhi-char place at this coffee shop, along with all the other exotic meats available there. She said that every dish was cooked that same way and with all the ingredients used in the cooking, she could no longer tell what meat she was eating…and she added that everything was way too oily so she did not enjoy any of it at all.

The way we cook it is very simple and I did blog about it here – no ingredients are required except perhaps some salt and msg at the end, if one so desires and these days, with the slow cooker, it is a lot easier and there is no need to worry that the meat will be tough, no need to put a porcelain spoon in the soup during the process of simmering either.

Well, it so happened that I managed to get a couple of kilos of the much coveted meat at the Selangau market so I cooked the soup…

Wild boar soup 1

…and gave a bit to my cousin to try – just a bit in case he did not like it and would throw it away, such a waste of such good stuff and of course, we got to enjoy it…

Wild boar soup 2

…ourselves that day.

He and everyone in the family tried it for dinner that night and even before it was time to sit down and eat, they were bowled over by the lovely fragrance that filled the whole house when they were heating up the soup. Yes, they loved it! The soup was so very nice, he said and the meat was so tender and when eaten with the super-spicy chili sauce from Payung…

Payung chili sauce
*Archive photo – current stock in bottles of a different shape & size*

(I gave them a bit along with the soup), that sure brought it to a whole new level.

I was such a great cook, he said but honestly, it does not need a great cook to cook that soup. If you click the link to look at how I did it, you would agree that any kid would be able to do it.

The next day, we had a little bit left in the house so I decided to do something different with it for a change. I got these ingredients…

Ingredients

– a shallot, peeled, three cloves of garlic, crushed, some slices of ginger, a few thin stalks of serai (lemon grass) bruised at the ends, some daun kesum and tapioca leaves, crumpled.

I lined the bowl with young daun kunyit (tumeric leaves), mixed everything together in the bowl…

Ready for steaming

…and put it in the steamer to steam till it was good and ready…

Wild boar soup with added ingredients 1

There was just enough for one meal, that one bowl…

Wild boar soup with added ingredients 2

…and yes, we enjoyed it very much. For one thing, the fragrance and taste of all the ingredients drowned out that of the wild boar meat but since it was also good cooked this way, I will keep the option open – sometimes, we may cook it like this again for a change.