Something great…

The oregano that I got from my friend/ex-students’ mum/mum-in-law grew really well and was so very productive so I shared a photo on Facebook and asked if anybody would be interested. A friend said that she did not mind some so I repotted a few and sent them over to her house along with a little pot of dill – my dill is flourishing too. She had not got home from work so I passed them to her hubby.

A few days later, when we were in church that night, she passed me this…

Kelulut honey

the kelulut honey from those stingless bees that was the craze at one time – a lot of people were rearing them. It seems that she is keeping those bees as well so she has her own supply of the coveted stuff that is claimed to be even better than the celebrated New Zealand’s manuka honey which does not come cheap…and neither is this kelulut honey – somebody in Singapore said that he bought a 500 ml bottle for SGD50.00! I guess that is why there are people producing it commercially and marketing it now.

I did try a bit – it has its own taste that is not quite like our regular honey and yes, I did like it very much…and I saw in some websites that it has a lot of health benefits, thank you so much to my friend for that big bottle of the coveted stuff – I am sure that would cost a bundle.

In the meantime, one of the seedlings that my neighbour gave me had flowered…

Butterfly pea flower, 1st to bloom 1

the butterfly pea flower (the clitoria ternatea) and of course, that got me real excited and happy…

Butterfly pea flower 1st to bloom 2

It appeared that mine is a single-petal variety and there is also the double-petal one but they say they are the same as far as the health benefits go.

No, I did not pluck it…

Butterfly pea flower 1st to bloom 3

…to make tea right away. I guess I can wait till the plants have grown really big and are flowering in abundance. I noticed that the flower would have withered by the next day but to my delight, another one…

Butterfly pea flower 2nd to bloom

…bloomed.

At the time of writing, another one of the seedlings has flowered as well, just one – the third bloom so far. Fingers crossed, I will be seeing more and more over the next few days…and I can start brewing the tea to drink, great stuff – this flower and also the honey!

Mashup…

This post comprises a mashup of things that aren’t quite enough for separate posts on their own.

First and foremost, I must say thank you so so much once again to my very sweet and generous friend, Mary, for giving me these…

From Mary

…sets of easy-to-cook instant Thai delights. At this point in time, I am not sure when I will be using them to whip up those dishes yet – for one thing, I will have to go and buy some basic ingredients first but of course, when I do so, I will surely blog about it and give my true and honest review of the product.

In the meantime, I had some of those frozen beef balls in the freezer, Rambly’s, I think, and one morning, I took them out to cook my own version of the Indonesian bakso

Bakso 1

…using another packet of the noodles that I still had after cooking my Marmite mee that day.

There wasn’t much beef taste in the soup so I added a teaspoon of Marmite and a bit of salt and it turned out pretty nice. I also broke an egg into the boiling soup and the thinly sliced sawtooth coriander (刺芫荽 or ci yan sui/ketumbar Java) from my garden…

Bakso 2

…sure brought the taste to a whole new level.

Feeling inspired, I went and bought a packet of frozen minced beef to try and cook this same dish but it was disastrous. I think there was way too much fat in the beef so though it tasted all right, it turned out quite inedible and in the end, we just tried a bit and threw most of it away. One thing’s for sure, I will never buy those packets of minced beef sold at the supermarkets ever again. Once bitten, twice shy!

When we moved into our house in the late 80’s, the previous owner left a lot of plants behind, discarded, some in broken pots, others growing rampantly wild so we had to clear up the mess. However, we did save some that we could salvage and there was this one pot of aloe vera. You can read up on all the (health) benefits and uses of the plant here and according to this website, this is a plant used in the rituals against bad luck and envy, as it is said to be one of the strongest to fight against bad vibes. It is known for attracting prosperity and positive energy anywhere in the home where it is located. Many people believe that when the aloe vera plant grows…it is attracting good luck. If it fades, it is because it has absorbed the negative energies and has protected us.

The plant grew and multiplied in that one pot and I did transfer some into individual pots and they went on multiplying so I got some more pots for them. I have this very big one…

Aloe vera 1

…the mother plant, in my living room now and I took one to my girl’s quarters in her school in the jungle. For one thing, it is claimed that it is an air purifier and will absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen.

After all the repotting that I did, other than the big one in the house, I also have these four…

Alor vera 2

…and a few smaller ones as well. I sure wouldn’t mind giving them away, not all, of course, if anyone is interested.

Love will keep us alive…

This jasmine tree…

My jasmine tree

…that my late father planted in my garden many many years ago, along with the rambutan tree in the backyard, does not seem to be doing very well. It was doing all right all these years even when the branches were covered with wild orchids, moss and parasitic plants. I did make an effort to clear away all those that time when they came to rescue my rambutan tree.

What I found out was there were these HUGE black ants, what we grew up calling padak, infesting the roots of the tree and somebody told me that I could buy one pesticide and mix with boiling water to pour over the roots of the tree and that would get rid of the ants. In the meantime, I had no choice but to saw away the dead branches one by one…

Sawn branches

My problem is I have those daun hempedu bumi  leaves growing all around the roots and every morning, I would go and pluck a few leaves to brew tea with hot boiling water and drink because of all the medicinal benefits of those very bitter leaves. Of course I would not want to drink it anymore if I had poured the toxic pesticide all around.

These leaves are not easy to plant, it seems. The plants will just appear anywhere and everywhere by themselves and if you take them to plant them nicely in a more orderly manner at a proper place, chances are they will eventually wither and die.

I guess I have not much choice so I have tried transplanting the seedlings at a safe place, far away from the jasmine tree and it does look like they are getting on fine…

Daun hempedu bumi

Once they are big enough, it will be time for me to embark on my mission to get rid of those ants.

The tree has bloomed time and time again and once, the whole tree turned white with all the flowers and the fragrance filled the whole neighbourhood. It would be sad to see it wither away – I guess in the meantime, I will just have to treat it well and hope for the best.

So what’s new in my garden these days? Well, not much really but I have planted this sawtooth coriander…

Sawtooth coriander

…that I picked up at the wet market one morning, a whole bunch of the plant, 5 altogether, I think, including the roots for only RM1.00. I planted all of them and I am glad to see them doing very well including this one that I planted in between some bricks – there was a Thai basil plant there before and despite the rather unlikely location, it grew really well too. I wonder why.

For the uninitiated, if you do not know what sawtooth coriander leaves are, these are similar in taste and smell to the daun ketumbar used to garnish a whole lot of dishes in Kuching like their Sarawak laksa

Kuching laksa
*Friend’s photo on Facebook, edited*

…for instance, or their oyster omelette/pancake…or their butter prawns. They are very popular among the people there but it is very hard to come by here. I remember once some folks were having a popiah party and they actually had those leaves air-flown from Kuching!

Generally, people are put off by the smell – they say it smells of bed bugs but I do feel it is an acquired taste and now that I have learnt to take that, I actually quite like it these days. It is used a lot  in the Thai dishes here…and they also use it here and not too long ago, I stumbled upon it being used for the beef noodles…

Restoran Muhajirin beef noodles

here.

My ulam raja plants have all called it a day, the ones with the orange and the yellow flowers but my missus got the seeds for a different variety from a friend and I planted them…

My ulam raja

…and some have sprouted and are growing pretty well. Hopefully, I will get to see the purplish pink flowers soon.

Generally, all my plants are doing very well especially now that I am spending a lot more time taking care of them every morning and late afternoon or evening. Hopefully, the love that they are getting will keep them alive!

Get used to it…

The results of the numerous tests have all come in, tests for celiac disease and what not and thankfully, they are all negative, praise the Lord. In the meantime, after avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing products, the symptoms have disappeared – things like the horrifying rashes on the back, constant migraine and body aches, excessive gas and gastric problems, irregular bowel movement – sometimes constipation and sometimes diarrhoea, always falling sick…and racing pulse rate up to over 120 per minute!

That was why when my girl came home after school closed for the year-end holidays, looking as thin as a rake, so sickly and so very stressed out and depressed, I told her it would just be something we would need to get used to, a change in lifestyle and diet and everything would be all right – think positive…and happy! There are people with all kinds of allergies and sicknesses and they would have to avoid certain things at all cost. I knew someone who was allergic to protein and could not even drink soya bean milk or eat vegetables like bean sprouts, long beans and all those and of course, eggs and all kinds of meat and seafood would be out of the question.

Well, things are getting better. Of course, sometimes we forget…like when we went for chicken rice here

Mei Le chicken rice

…that day, I ordered the stewed eggs…

Mei Le stewed eggs

…which had soy sauce (there is wheat in the ingredients) and she was about to eat it too when the mum who remembered said that she shouldn’t.

I don’t know what sauce they poured over the meat…

Mei Le roast chicken & roast pork

…probably plum sauce and all the fat that had dripped down in the course of roasting but to be safe, the next time we eat here or anywhere else, I would have to tell them to leave out the sauce…completely. Thankfully, my girl was all right after eating that so my guess is she is more gluten sensitive or intolerant so if she avoids the offensive stuff most of the time, just a little bit shouldn’t bring any drastically serious consequence but of course, it is best avoided.

Everything was fine here that day when she had the bryani rice with mutton curry (RM8.00) as always…and the mum had the nasi campur with one meat and two vegetables (RM6.00) while I had this (RM9.00)…

Sri Pelita nasi bryani campur

– their bryani rice with a piece of papadum by the side but with sambal chicken…

Sri Pelita sambal chicken

…and sambal egg plus a bit of paku (wild jungle fern) instead of one of the many curries available there. Wowwwww!!!! The sambal, both the chicken and the egg, was so very nice but so very very hot even for someone like me – definitely not something for the faint-hearted, I must say!

But when we dropped by here…

Ruby Restaurant
*the shadow on the wall inside, the result of the reflection of the bright sunlight on the windscreen of the car parked in front, of the name stuck to the restaurant’s glass door*

…for lunch that day, I ordered the sweet potato leaves, ching chao (fried plain)…

Ruby Restaurant sweet potato leaves

…and I was wondering why there was a bit of sauce in it, black in colour. I tasted it – it came across like there was some of our traditional Foochow red wine, no soy sauce. My girl had that and she enjoyed it…and no, there were no reactions after that.

There was no problem, of course, with the bitter gourd with salted egg…

Ruby Restaurant salted egg bitter gourd

…and I ordered fish, steamed…

Ruby Restaurant steamed tapah with red wine

…with red wine as usually the fried ones would be coated in wheat flour and fried before cooking. That slab of tapah cost a bomb – RM35.00 and it would not have been so bad if it had been really very nice. They do have a lot of very nice dishes here, which probably explains why there were so many people – a full house, lunch time on a week day! Unfortunately, we would have to refrain from ordering most of those dishes now, but, in my honest opinion, you can give their steamed tapah (dunno about the other varieties of fish) a miss.

So, as one can see, actually it isn’t so bad, after all…and we are coping very well with it – as a matter of fact, my girl is looking less thinner now and a lot happier! Still a few weeks left to the holidays and till Christmas!

Who dunnit…

I was mighty pleased when I spotted some buds…

Ulam raja bud

…appearing on my ulam raja plant. Gee!!! So far, I only knew that the leaves were edible and eating them would bring a whole lot of health benefits but little did I know at that point in time that it would flower.

I thought it would look like a mini-version of the chrysanthemum, yellow in colour, but my blogger-friend commented on my photograph on Facebook and said that it would be pink. So I went and googled and saw this – it was a nice shade of pinkish purple, very pretty!

However, when it bloomed, it was indeed yellow…

Ulam raja flower 1

…and never mind the difference, it was very pretty too. It seems there are two varieties actually and the one with yellow flowers has longer leaves or something.

It looked like there were a lot of seeds…

Ulam raja flower 2

…and some people started asking me for them. I would not know how to go about collecting those but somebody said that I would have to wait till the flower had dried up and withered and then I could take the seeds.

It was very lasting, the flower – I think it was in full bloom for at least three days and on the morning of the fourth day, I was aghast when I woke up and saw this…

Ulam raja flower 3

Drats!!! Now, who could have done that? The petals were almost all gone and the seeds as well!!! Was it the wind? Or was it those birds in my garden? When I first planted the two seedlings that I got from Peter – he just pulled two out from one of the pots at his café to give to me, those feathered creatures got to them, leaving behind a tiny little sprig. I managed to salvage that and kept it under cover for a long while till the plant was big enough – let them come and eat, there would be enough leaves to spare.

It is now over a meter high and that is why when somebody suggested cutting away the flowers so more branches would grow, I said no way would I do something like that! Why on earth would I want more branches when we have more than enough for us to enjoy…and for the birds too! Let the flowers bloom and I can find pleasure in looking at them in all their glory.

There is another one now…

Ulam raja flower 4

…though I don’t know if I can get any seeds from it this time around and yet another bud has appeared too – obviously, there will be another flower soon.

Fingers crossed!!!

Believe…

I have been taking these leaves…

Daun hempedu bumi 1

…for a long long time now, way before I retired. I did blog about it here once, if anyone is interested.

They seem to be very hard to plant though. If you see a seedling sprouting out somewhere and you decide to transplant it nicely at a proper place, you can be sure it will wither and die very quickly. That is why I would just let it grow anywhere it appears and pluck the leaves (a friend of a friend said it must be an odd number, 3, 5, 7…but she said she heard it elsewhere and did not know why) every morning to brew and drink.

Lately, however, it seemed to sprout all over the place – in the flower pots…

Daun hempedu bumi 2

…and all the cracks and crevices…

Daun hempedu bumi 3

…so at this point in time, I have an abundant supply for my daily cuppa, once a day…though I did see somewhere that it is recommended that one should have it three times a day.

The problem is after a while, the plants will start to produce seeds and flower…

Daun hempedu bumi 4

…and the leaves that appear are very much smaller, I don’t know why. That was why when they appeared all over the place, I decided to pluck the leaves and dry them in the sun…

Daun hempedu bumi 5

…to keep so I would not have to worry about the supply running out. However, the “tea” that I brewed using those tasted kind of peculiar. Maybe that was due to fermentation or I did not dry the leaves long enough so in the end, I just threw it all away.

I don’t know if they still do that in Sarikei or not but at one time, I was getting a friend there to buy for me – the leaves, dried and crushed and put into capsules. I can’t remember exactly now but I think it was selling at RM13.00 for 100 or was it 50 capsules? I also heard that they did the same at a Chinese medical store here and were selling them at RM1.00 each. I went and googled and I found that these capsules are actually available elsewhere…

Hempedu bumi extract

I don’t know what extract they are talking about – maybe they get the juice from the leaves and put that in the capsules, not the dried and crushed leaves, but they do claim that they do bring a whole lot of the same positive effects that people are saying these “king of bitters” can bring about.

For one thing, I’ve read claims that it helps detoxify one’s body so if one is on some kind of medication, then one should not be taking these leaves, the same thing with lobak putih (white radish), they say. People say that it cleanses away all the tok (poisons) in your body. Yes, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback regarding the leaves but yes, I have also heard people saying that they have no effect on them as well. I guess like medicines and medical treatments in general, they may work on some but not on others…

Believe it or not…

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
…But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason
and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live up to it.

-Buddha-

My daughter made me this very refreshing drink the other day, nicely chilled…

Drink

…using the mint leaves that we have growing in our garden…

Mint leaves

…and the sweet mulberry fruits…

Mulberry fruit

…plus some Sabah snake grass.

I had blogged about the latter a while ago here during the time when everyone was talking and blogging about it and my missus got some from my sister-in-law and started planting our own…and blending the leaves for me to drink and THANKFULLY, the novelty soon wore out and she stopped doing it so we did not drink the concoction made from the leaves anymore after that.

Now, why “thankfully”, you may ask? Well, a doctor/ex-blogger friend of mine in Sungai Petani, Kedah saw the photograph of the drink that I had shared on Facebook and he quickly warned me about the Sabah snake grass as it may damage one’s kidneys and I quote from this link that he provided in his comment, “…there has been some feedback on other possible side effects besides the drop in blood counts…Body aches and more importantly, kidney impairment seems to be a common theme…”

I also clicked this link to an earlier article on the issue and what caught my attention was this sentence, “Ingesting these plant alkaloids is essentially taking chemotherapy in a raw form.” No wonder there have been claims that some cancer victims have survived as a result of taking these leaves but we jolly well know that not everybody will respond to chemotherapy and hence, not all will pull through if they resort to these leaves for some kind of a miracle cure.

But the bottom line is this: “Please, please do not fall for the “natural = safe” misconception. Poison ivy is “natural”, poppy plants are “natural”. The Sabah snake grass is “natural” but it is chemotherapy. It probably warrants further research and identification of active compounds for use in modern chemotherapy, but if cancer patients take it, it is at their own peril or risk for there is a lack of proper safety and efficacy studies. Normal people certainly should not take it. Please help spread the word.” So never mind what they say about it – I am not going to touch those leaves again, not unless the need arises. Touch wood! Ptui! Ptui!!! Choi! Choi!!!

I guess the mint and mulberry are all right though – safe for consumption for pleasure rather than for any health purposes. We have a lot in our garden – the mint leaves but our mulberry plants are somewhat stunted…

Mulberry plants

We have two pots of them and they pale in comparison to those huge mulberry trees that an ex-classmate of mine has in his garden in Perth. I guess the climate there is more conducive to these temperate plants and the conditions here are simply too hot for them to thrive well. We dry the leaves too…

Dried mulberry leaves

…to make tea…

Mulberry tea

…and my friend in Auckland says it will get one running to the toilet and is good for weight loss but unfortunately, it does not work that way on me at all…on both counts. I would just drink it as I find it is quite nice – something like Chinese tea, maybe a bit milder.

One thing’s for sure, should anybody tell me any kind of stories any time in the future about what is so good and what not, he or she can jolly well keep it and eat it all by himself or herself. No, thank you very much and THAT is final!