Relax…

We see a lot of reports in the newspapers about the mental health of government employees such as doctors and teachers and we see suicide cases on the rise each passing day. The authorities may express some concern but it sure does not look like they are doing very much about it.

My girl does seem to have a lot of work to do each waking minute when she is at home. I also had a lot to do too when I was a teacher, perhaps even more but I took it all in strides. Yes, there were times when I was stressed too but most of the time, I was all right. Well, as they say, no two persons are the same so different people will address their problems differently.

One thing that I always tell my girl is to reward herself…and not to wait for other people to do it. She may have to wait forever! Many a time, we see others getting those awards when they hardly do anything, other than apple polishing perhaps, while the rest of us who worked our fingers to the bone were left “putih mata“/empty-handed.

She can go out to do a bit of shopping, buy things that she likes to reward herself, go some place nice for a meal and be pampered by the excellent service while enjoying her comfort food, things that she enjoys eating or if she can find some time, go off somewhere on a holiday.

Last weekend, for instance, she had to go back to school the whole morning on Saturday and only got home way past noon. After a nap to rest a bit, we went to our usual sunset service in church. The next morning, she was up and about very very early to do her school work for the week ahead and that kept her busy till around 5.00 p.m. in the evening before she managed to finish everything that she had to do.

I did not want to suggest going out for lunch when she was still in the thick of things but now that she had finished, I asked her if she would like to go out for dinner and relax a bit. Of course, she jumped at the idea immediately and said without any hesitation whatsoever that she would like to go for her comfort food – biryani rice…

That was how we ended up at our favourite Indian/Indonesian restaurant in town and this time around, she chose the mutton masala

biryani (RM25.00)…

…and she also asked for their aloo gobi masala (RM13.00)…

…with potatoes and cauliflower, one of the vegetable dishes available here, suitable for vegetarians.

That sure was quite a lot for her to handle but she managed to finish most of it. I’ve always told her to take control of her life and never let anyone dictate how much she should eat so if she cannot finish something, she should just leave what is left behind and not force herself to finish everything, something that many Asian parents, those old-fashioned traditional ones, would find most distressing!

I had the tandoori chicken (RM16.00)…

…and as always, it was moist, juicy, tender and succulent…

…having been cooked on the spot and served straight out of the traditional tandoori unlike some elsewhere that may turn out hard and dry, having been left to stand by the side of the oven for too long before somebody orders it and it is served.

My missus had their mee nyemek goreng (RM16.00)…

…from their Indonesian menu which was pretty good and they were very generous with the seafood ingredients, all the prawns, sotong, fish cake and so on…but personally, my favourite fried noodles in town would be this old lady’s mee goreng here.

Having had our fill, we left for home happily. I could tell from the tone of her voice that my girl was a lot more relaxed by then and a whole lot happier than earlier on when we were leaving the house. I told her we can do this anytime she feels like it – just say the word and we wil be on our way.

THE CAFE IND (2.290813, 111.829294)…

…is located along Laichee Lane, right behind one block of shops facing the main road (Jalan Kampung Nyabor) where the Bank Simpanan Nasional, Sibu branch (2.290561, 111.829071), is located

We’re so good together…

I used to enjoy eating Quaker oats, boiled till nice and mushy and sweetened with condensed milk. Eventually, they came out with the instant version where we just need to add hot water, no need for any boiling for a prolonged period of time.

I don’t know when or why I stopped eating it but I always enjoyed those rich and creamy oats cookies/biscuits from Jacobs and anyway, it is not easy to get hold of condensed milk here these days – what they are selling everywhere are sweetened creamers made from palm oil, not cow’s milk.

It so happened that I read somewhere that if I take three tablespoons of oats every day for a month, it will help lower my cholesterol. Remembering how I used to enjoy eating that, I made my way to one of the neighbourhood shops to buy a pack. Yes, they have Quaker but the instant ones and I think I saw somewhere that those aren’t as great.

In the end, I settled for a pack of these organic rolled oats…

…which I have to boil for quite sometime before they become mushy and soggy enough to be eaten.

Of course, I cannot add any condensed milk as I am supposed to stay away from dairy products as well. Needless to say, they are not very palatable, bland and quite a chore to eat and at times, I added a little bit of honey or our low GI gula apong (nipah sugar) but even so, after a while, I, more or less, gave up.

I told my sister about it and she went and ordered this huge pack of dried cranberries…

…for me. It’s from the same people who came out with these sambals that my dear friend, Mandy, sent me sometime ago. I am not supposed to eat those because like raisins, they are soaked in sugar syrup before drying so the sugar content is very high – I can’t eat raisins either!

However, my sister said that cranberries are good for the kidneys so I can mix a bit with my oats for the sweetness and also the delightful taste of the cranberries would make it a lot easier for me to eat the oats.

I tried cooking just a bit with the three tablespoons of oats…

…in low fat milk (it is all right for me to drink that)…

…till it is mushy and soggy…

…and it turned out to be rather nice – I love the taste of the cranberries and there is a hint of sweetness in the oats that makes it a lot easier to eat.

My sister said that I can eat it on alternate days, no need to eat it every day if I am worried about the sugar and incidentally, perhaps I can buy a can of sweetened creamer to add to the oats sometimes – after all, it is not a dairy product so except for the sweetness, it should be fine for me…once in a while. What do you all think?

Not for me…

I’ve been going online to check out the things I should eat and those that I should not and I thought I read somewhere that sweet potatoes are good for me. That was why when I was at the neighbourhood fruit and sundry shop in the next lane, I asked for some of the tuber to take home and cook…

…to eat.

I loved the ones from the Philippines – they were very sweet and were popular here at one time but I do not get to see them anymore nowadays. We have the Japanese purple ones but I am not a fan of those – I’d much sooner stick to our cheaper and nicer orange ones.

That day, the boss told me to take these…

The first thing that crossed my mind was how they looked so pale. I had never seen any like those before but I just went ahead and bought a few to try.

I took two to steam and I was surprised to find that they were yellow inside. They were extra mushy and sticky, not too sweet and were very nice. My girl said that they did get to eat yellow sweet potatoes when they went over to Korea but this was the first time for me and yes, I liked it!

The next day, I took the rest, peeled them and cut them into chunks…

…to cook some Chinese sweet potato dessert/soup. Gosh!!! It was as hard as a rock, so difficult to cut but after much struggle, I did manage in the end.

I boiled them in water with a lot of pandan (screwpine) leaves added for the fragrance and I added a bit of aloe vera jelly as well.

Aloe vera can benefit the kidney in many ways such as protecting it from tissue damage caused by free radicals due to its antioxidant property. It prevents kidney stone formation and reduces the content of harmful substances in the serum such as urea and creatinine. It also has an antimicrobial property which aids in combating renal infections.

To sweeten the soup, I used a bit of gula Melaka (palm sugar). According to this website, “palm sugar is known to have a lower glycemic index (GI) of 35, just over a third of the glycemic index of cane sugar (93)” but “there is no refined natural gula melaka available. If possible, avoid sugar. If not, use natural palm sugar in moderation.” The old folks will usually use rock sugar but I was not using that and anyway, there was none in the house.

Another thing that people like to add is a chunk of ginger. The Chinese believe that sweet potatoes are “cold” so to counter-balance that they would add ginger. I did not do that, of course, as I am not into the taste.

Once the sweet potatoes were cooked, I scooped out a bowl…

…and served.

Yes, it was very nice but I went and googled only to find that I should not be eating things high in potassium like bananas and sweet potatoes as well.

This website says that as sweet potatoes contain high levels of both potassium and phosphorus, avoid eating them BUT sweet potatoes are very nutritious, so don’t remove them from your diet unless your doctor tells you to. The potassium they contain may help lower your blood pressure, and the phosphorus helps your body store energy and repair damaged tissues. Even people with kidney problems need these nutrients, but simply need to limit their consumption to what is necessary for good health.

Oh dear!!! I was thinking of going back to the shop to buy some more but having read that, I changed my mind right away, thank you very much!

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket

Slipped my mind…

The other day, when I bought the very awesome ikan terubok (toli shad) that we enjoyed so much, I also bought some bak chik

…for only RM10.00 a kilo. That’s very affordable and for that kind of money, we could get no less than 20 of the fish, at least – so many of them for our two meals that day.

The nice boys, Madam Lau’s helpers also threw in two ikan kembong for only RM1.00 each. We also deep-fried those…

…to eat and yes, they were good too.

While I was there that morning, I bought one more fish from the boys – they told me it was an ikan senangin. The Malay name sounded familiar but I could not, for the dear life of me, remember what fish that was. It had completely slipped my mind!!!

It turned out to be the threadfin or what we call ngor hu in Hokkien except that usually, it would be very big and I would buy it in thick slabs…

…not whole. This one that the boys were trying to sell to me was very small, around the size of my forearm, for only RM20.00. In the end, I took it and the boys cleaned it for me and cut it into slices, ready for frying.

My missus took two slices that day and steamed them and yes, they were very nice. I did not take any snapshots of those but the next day, she steamed the leftover pieces for lunch…

Don’t you think that looks gorgeous?

For our dinner in the evening that previous day, she fried four slices…

…instead of steaming them…

– I guess she knows that our girl would prefer that instead of having them steamed.

Personally, I felt they were very good either way, steamed or fried and with the price of cooking oil shooting up like nobody’s business, when the fish is suitable for steaming, I think we should just steam it, no need to be too fussy about it, plus that is supposed to be healthier, right?

It was not as good as the ikan lajong

…that we had that day but it came pretty close! I certainly would buy it again if I happen to see it whole at the stall and yes, I would ask the boy to do a butterfly cut…

…for me to conveniently take it home and steam.

I did mention in an earlier post that I am now on a no red meat diet, no dairy products and no egg yolk but I have to take a lot of protein. That, of course, means that I shall be buying and eating a lot of fish.

I went back to the stall the other morning and bought another kilo of the bak chik (RM10.00) and 2.6 kilos of the kilat or small white pomfret/pek chio/ikan bawal putih

These are the big ones and no, they do not come cheap, RM35.00 a kilo so I had to pay over RM90.00 because I bought quite a lot that day.

Usually, they are very small so if we limit ourselves to three per meal, six per day, there should be enough for us for two to three days and usually, we would have them fried…

…but for the same aforementioned reason, I think we shall have them steamed instead this time around.

The fish & seafood stall…

…is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai.

In the air tonight…

I did mention in my previous post that my girl and the mum went out shopping last Friday and among the things that they carted home that afternoon was this air fryer…

We have one in the house – my niece, the one working in Singapore, gave my missus a small one and my missus have been using it quite a lot since. The problem with that one is the size – I think it is more suitable for people who are single. That was why more often than not, I would see my missus cooking something two or three times so that there would be enough for the three of us.

This one is big enough to roast one whole chicken of not more than 1.8 kilo. We have never tried doing that with the small one, of course and the other day, my missus used this new one to cook two chicken thighs and sweet potatoes…

…enough for our lunch and dinner, no need to do it two or three times like before.

You can read this online article here on the health benefits and the risks of using an air fryer. What is very obvious so far is how convenient it is to use and also how one can save a lot on cooking oil – the price is going up and up these days, it seems.

This particular brand is currently on promotion, selling for RM1.4K and it comes with a free gift…

…of this box of classy silverware…

I guess it is not cheap but considering that I am saving over RM200 a week on cigarettes, around RM1,000 a month and the same on TOTO since I stopped buying completely once the pandemic broke out plus I do save a bundle on petrol #stayingsafe #stayingwell #stayinghome all this while, I do have a bit of cash that I can spare and seeing how it made my missus so very happy, I would say it was a very good buy.

Dates…

It will be the fasting month of Ramadan soon – they are going to look at the moon on the 1st of April, if I am not mistaken and yes, those lovely preserved dates…

…have started appearing at the shops and supermarkets in town.

Last Friday, my girl and the mum went out shopping to stock up on supplies and buy whatever they fancied and they bought a few boxes of this brand…

…for me to eat and enjoy…

This is not the brand that I used to buy but yes, I did buy some before and yes, I thought they were good too.

For one thing though, these dates are very sweet, probably not because of any sugar (or honey) added but anyway, I went and googled just to be sure. This website says: “A person with diabetes should consume dates in moderation—up to three dates per day.” For one thing, I am following a low sugar diet and so far, my blood sugar level is under control which, of course, means that I am not a diabetic. Of course, at my age, I should not throw caution to the wind and since the website says 3, then 3, it shall be, no more, no less.

They also list a lot of benefits one can derive from consuming dates, namely they help fight fatigue, improve insulin production, improve digestion, maintain blood sugar levels, reduce vision loss and boost metabolism. They do not come cheap, of course – over RM10.00 a box, so good or otherwise, you will not find me feasting on them like there is no tomorrow.

In the meantime, my sister dropped by my house to pass me a pack of these steamed buns (mantao)…

…made in that special shape that we may see in some Chinese restaurants when served with their awesome dong po rou (stewed pork belly). I shared the photograph on Facebook and a friend said that they came from Ah Pui’s pao shop at Jalan Lanang.

One difference was the presence of the fried shallots in the buns and because of that, eating them with kaya (coconut jam) or peanut butter or fruit jam was out of the question. It probably would go well with stewed pork but since I did not have any in the house, I tried having it with the lovely sambal

from my dear friend, Mandy, in KL Yes, they went very well together and I sure enjoyed eating it this way.

Essence…

In our childhood days, we were made to take all sorts of things. There was the milky white Scott’s Emulsion with the picture of a fisherman and a HUGE fish as big as him on his back. Then, there was the horrible Waterbury’s Compound that tasted like rusty metal.

Come examination time, my mum would wake us up at the break of dawn to get us to do our last-minute revision. She would open a bottle of Brand’s Essence of Chicken and divide it into two, add hot water and make my brother and I drink all of it. They seemed to believe that it was good for the brain and would make the children smart and besides, it would also energise anyone who drank it.

I actually liked it a lot so on some days, I would “help myself” to a bottle from the ones in the pantry to drink! If my mum noticed the missing bottles at the time, she never said anything. LOL!!!

We never drank it anymore once we were no longer in school. People would give my dad boxes and boxes on special occasions, birthdays and for whatever reason and on days when he thought he felt lethargic, he would take a bottle to drink and dunno whether it was all psychological or what but he would feel better after that.

All these years, I only bought a box or two for family and friends who were sick or in hospital for some surgery or those who had just given birth. I never had it myself again until that day when my friend, Yan, gave me a box…

…for my birthday and I actually enjoyed it a lot! Of course, I went a bit slow with the six bottles so it did last for a while.

Well, the other day, my doctor said I would need to take more protein, egg white, fish and all those and I thought this essence of chicken would help in some small way, at least. So I went and bought a box of 24…

…the ones with cordyceps. They also have the ones with tangkwei but I did hear that that is great for ladies, not for men. I picked this as I read somewhere that cordyceps are good for the kidneys.

The bottle seems a bit smaller now and these days, it has a plastic cap…

The cap used to be metal/aluminum with a liver red rubber lining.

I would open the cap and stand the bottle in hot boiling water…

…to heat up the contents and then I would drink it straight from the bottle.

The taste of this one with cordyceps needed a bit of getting used to but after the initial sips, I was fine with it. I still feel that I prefer the original though so when I have finished this box, I would just go for that. I can easily buy cordyceps in capsules at the Chinese medical stores, anyway.

Cover up…

Whenever I go out, I will always wear a mask even if it is only for a while, say when I drop by some place for a few minutes to buy something and after that, I will throw it away without a second thought. That is why I keep these…

…handy.

They aren’t very expensive, over a ringgit each and it seems that they are better than those cloth masks that people will wash and use again and again. According to an article that I read, “A study that was just published in the journal, Science, analyzed data from 342,183 adults in Bangladesh and found that surgical masks were 95 percent effective at filtering out virus particles, compared with 37 percent for cloth face masks.

These come in various colours and the pharmacy that I frequent stocks up on those. I was rather amused that day when I picked up a box of blue for myself and a box of pink for the ladies in the house. The boss kept telling me that I had taken a box of pink masks – I guess he could not imagine this old man wearing those in that bright colour. LOL!!!

He himself uses these…

…which he says are good enough to be worn on their own, no need to resort to wearing double masks. According to him, they are manufactured following some Korean technology.

Needless to say, they are very expensive…

…but I can’t remember the exact price now..

I guess they would be good for use at crowded places but no, we’ve been #stayingsafe and #stayingwell, #stayinghome most of the time and we avoid crowded places like a plague. I did buy a box though just in case school resumes now that Sarawak has gone into Phase 4 and my girl will have to go back to her classes of some over 30 pupils each – I would consider those as crowded, no doubt about it so when that time comes, she can put on these masks, one per day.

I did buy the Korean originals too…

…from one of my neighbourhood shops and they are more or less that same price as well.

The aforementioned article mentions that cloth masks are our 1918 pandemic technology, used 100 years ago whereas these days, we have the technology — the high filtration, electrostatically charged, meltblown [masks like KF94s, KN95s and N95s] — and we should use those.

I also grabbed a box of the cheaper Korean ones…

…from that same shop. These, like those colourful ones above, should be good enough for use…

…under normal circumstances.

This article says that with the increasing airborne spread of the coronavirus, it is important to improve the fit of masks and their filtration — making enhancements that go beyond old, loose, cloth face coverings that became popular in 2020. It also says that Omicron is twice as infectious, and an encounter that you could have tolerated for Delta may well infect you with Omicron. Knowing this, it is worth upgrading the protection you get from your mask.

Despite what the so-called “experts” in our country tell us, the article goes on to say this: The best masks are N95, KN95 and KF94 masks. Don’t wear an additional face covering on top of these masks. Of course, the bottom line is one must put on these masks properly. I find it quite distressing to see people wearing them with their noses uncovered…or worse, with them hanging under their chins.

Even when going some place to eat, I will keep my mask on till the food arrives and take it off only when I start eating and I will put it back on as soon as I have finished. Most people will just take their masks off as soon as they sit down…and will put them on again when they are about to leave the place.

As I have mentioned earlier, Sarawak has entered its Phase 4 now since Monday so I guess that means the situation here is presently a whole lot better than months ago. Each day, here in Sibu, there is a single-digit number of cases and hopefully, it will stay that way or better still, if there is none at all. The onus, of course, is on everyone to make sure they cover up (wear masks), observe physical distancing and do not go here and there unless there is a need for it and avoid crowded places at all times. #kitajagakita

Pretty…

My missus went out on Friday two weeks ago – she did not go out last week as we still had a lot of things in the house – and came back with these pretty bowls…

…that came free with this toothpaste…

…one when you buy a box with two tubes inside.

I love the pleasant colours of the yellow one…

…and also the green…

…and she also got the blue as well.

Unfortunately, she did not get the red one so we do not have the complete set at this point in time. I think the next time I go out, I shall stop by the shop to get that – I have this weakness for free gifts and I would like to have the complete sets. I love the set that I have of the Four Seasons plates that came free once with this toothpaste too.

Incidentally, I read somewhere sometime ago that with this pandemic that is going on and on like it is never going to end, we should have individual servings of soups unlike how we usually have it, Asian/Chinese style, in a big bowl and everybody will help themselves to it. These bowls are perfect for this, just the right size – not too much of the soup and no need for any refill. Of course, we must have separate serving spoons for each dish too. As a matter of fact, this is one good practice, very hygienic, that should be practised regardless whether or not there is a pandemic.

Trendy…

It seems to be the trend these days – this salted egg anything and everything.

We had the lau sar pao, the salted egg custard steamed buns (黃金流沙包)…

Lau sar pao

…and those salted egg yolk mooncakes…

Salted egg yolk mooncakes

…and at one time, over in the peninsula, there was a whole lot of commotion over some salted egg croissants but the excitement dissipated soon enough and there are salted egg dishes served in restaurants – our favourites include the fried salted egg pumpkin and this creamy salted egg prawn balls

Salted egg creamy prawns

…and this salted egg bitter gourd…

Salted egg bitter gourd

…and the salted egg spare ribs

Salted egg spare ribs

…as well and there are salted egg snacks too such as those packets of salted egg fish skin, for instance.

More recently, this salted egg instant mi goreng (fried noodles)…

Salted egg instant mi goreng

…appeared on the market and I did see a few friends sharing photographs of it on Facebook and of course, I wasted no time in asking how it was. Unfortunately, I did not get any response.

Well, the other day, I saw some at the mini-supermarket near my house, four packets for RM6.00 (RM1.50 each) so I bought them to try. I guess everyone would know only too well that this brand comes from Indonesia…

Made in Indonesia

…and in a packet, you will find the “curly” noodles and two sachets of seasoning…

Sachets

…or three, depending on how you look at it.

I was puzzled by the “solid ingredients” and was wondering if that one contained those dehydrated vegetables that I would need to boil to soften. When I cut it open, it turned out to be the bumbu (seasoning)…

Seasoning & chili

…and I could detect the smell of salted egg in it.

However, the sauce in the other sachet seemed rather strong with the smell of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) so my guess would be that they had fish sauce in it and when tossed altogether with the noodles…

Cooked...

…it drowned out whatever smell of salted egg that was there at the beginning.

All in all, I would say it tasted all right – I had it with my kerabu taugeh (pickled bean sprouts) by the side, garnished with a sprinkling of chopped fresh spring onions from my garden, and a fried egg…

...and served

…that I fried using my fairly new marble-coated frying pan. I have since avoided using my non-stick pans after I saw some articles on how they might be bad for health. As they say, better be safe than sorry!

Anyway, back to the noodles, at that price, I do think that I would just stick to the regular ones, seeing how it is not anything that would get me rushing back to the store for more.