Be healthy…

My foster-cousin gave me this sometime ago…

Dayak new unpolished rice

Some native workers at the construction site where the husband was working gave it to him but he and the daughter would not eat it as they were quite put off by the colour, so she gave it to me.

This is the rice that they planted themselves in their padi (rice) fields, quite recently harvested and not totally polished – that explains the colour and it is supposed to be a lot healthier than those white rice sold commercially. When I was young, my mother used to buy from the shops and cook for us and I had no problem eating that (Ah well! I guess everybody knows that I do not have  a problem eating most things, hence the shape and the size! LOL!!!) but if I remember correctly, what we had when I was young was of a very much darker shade of red than this. Perhaps, this was partially polished, not completely unpolished…so that some folks would not find the colour too different for their liking.

For some reason known only to her, my missus just left the bag of rice sitting there on the kitchen table and did not bother to cook it at all. Eventually, I decided to take things into my own hands and took a bit of it to cook some sweet potato porridge for breakfast the other morning…

STP's sweet potato porridge 1

I think I had a post on cooking the porridge sometime ago, I’m not too sure now but anyway, it is very easy to do so. I just used the rice cooker – one cup of rice to 6 parts water…and I added some sweet potatoes, cut into cubes and two slices of ginger. You may wish to add more if it pleases you but I, for one, would not like things with an extra-strong ginger taste. What I do know is that when my mum cooked sweet potatoes in syrup (water, sugar added) and pandan (screwpine) leaves, she would add a bit of ginger. She said that it was to counter the “coldness” of the sweet potatoes. Do keep stirring and when the water has started boiling, you must leave the lid open a little bit so that it will not boil over and make a miserable mess. You may wish to add a bit of salt and msg, according to taste or a chicken or ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock cube or granules. I would have put in some pandan leaves for added fragrance but unfortunately, when the people came to do the renovation works on the house recently, they had to remove the plant at the back of the house and right now, I am still in the process of re-planting but it is not big enough at the moment.

I would prefer my porridge to be a bit mushy but I was too hungry and could not wait any longer. I had it with some salted egg and leftover canned stewed pork that I found in the fridge…

STP's sweet potato porridge 2

…and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed that sumptuous breakfast which I had that morning.

Now, I do not think this is all that healthy but on another morning, I had some prawn curry left. I usually buy that from my regular Malay food stall at Bandong and they are very generous with the curry gravy. Well, rather than letting it all go to waste, I thought I could boil some noodles and eat it with the curry and I did…

Curry prawn noodles 1

I did add some fish cake that my sister-in-law gave us, thinly-sliced and I also added some salt as I thought that once the noodles were added to the curry gravy, it would render it somewhat bland.

Curry prawn noodles 2

So, was it nice? I’m sure anyone can tell from the look of it that it most certainly was… Yummmmm!!! LOL!!!

Chocolate…

According to this website, chocolate has a lot of health benefits. It is claimed that it is good for your heart as  it lowers blood pressure and can reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent. Other than that, it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure and it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant, as well as theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants.

I’m not really crazy about chocolate but I would love a slice of  Chocolate Indulgence from Secret Recipe anytime or the double chocolate mille crepe from the Noodle House here in Sibu

NoodleHouse double choc mille crepe
*recycled pic*

…and I do like some of those available locally as well as those that I have received from family and friends here, there and everywhere but this is new on the market, it seems – the Cadbury’s mint bubbly…

New from Cadbury

– milk chocolate with an aerated mint flavoured centre. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t say right now whether it’s any good.

I got it from a cousin of mine who was back in Sibu for a couple of days from Brisbane, thanks so much, and she also gave me this box of Belgian Cherry Liqueurs…

Belgian cherry liqueurs

I hope I will not get drunk from eating those. LOL!!!

Actually, she gave them to me in this paper bag…

Victoria's paper bag

…but no worries! No Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie or whatever inside. They wouldn’t have my size, anyway! LOL!!!

Well, moving away from the topic of chocolates now, in case anybody doesn’t know, it’s Easter Sunday today…

Happy Easter

…so allow me, if I may, to take this opportunity to wish one and all a Blessed and Happy Easter.

Everybody’s talking…

Everybody’s talking about it…and there have been feature articles on  it in the Chinese dailies as well, so I’ve been told, singing its praises and extolling it for its ability to cure cancer and all kinds of sicknesses. I’m talking about what they call in layman’s terms, the Sabah snake grass or Clinacanthus

Sabah snake grass 1

However, I am not going to vouch for the truth in any of the claims as I’ve yet to encounter first hand any real-life cases where the miracle leaves have saved the day.

My missus got to know about it from my in-laws who claim that they’ve been consuming it and they feel a whole lot better in more ways than one. So she got the seedlings from them and has planted some of our own…

Sabah snake grass 2

…and every day, without fail, she would blend the leaves together with some green apples and lemon, strain it and make me drink the juice…

Sabah snake grass 3

…and when I said I did not feel anything (not that I have any ailment that would need curing, or at least, none that I know of), she insisted that I ate the pulp as well.

Sabah snake grass 4

I still do not feel anything but being very much the wiser now, I refrain from telling her in case she would decide to double or triple the dosage, Lord have mercy!

Gee! Looking at the amount of all the green stuff that I’ve been consuming, I certainly hope that it doesn’t turn me into this…

Green Man
*Photo from Facebook fan page*

Muahahahahaha!!!!

White on white…

When you order Chinese carrot (chai thow koi) cake from your favourite hawker stall…

Carrot cake stall
*recycled pic*

…rest assured that carrot will be the last thing you can find in that culinary favourite of many. The main ingredient is the Chinese white radish (pek chai thow) or lo bak…which, I understand, is also called Daikon.

My father would not touch it at all as he claims that it will “wash away” all the medicine in the body. But lately, I’ve heard that there are a lot of health benefits that one can derive from eating it and they claim that it can detoxify one’s body system and remove all the unwanted toxins. Well, I guess that makes sense…and certainly confirms my father’s claims that it will flush out all the medication that one has taken.

My missus will cook it as a soup…

Chinese white radish soup 1

…by boiling pork bones for the stock and adding the radish, chopped into chunks, plus salt and msg according to taste. You can add chopped daun sup (Chinese celery, which they say lowers high blood pressure) or spring onions to make it more fragrant or perhaps, you would want to add some fried sliced shallots instead.

Chinese white radish soup 2

According to this website, the Chinese white radish is also known as little ginseng in China. You can click the link to go and read about all the health benefits that it is claimed to have. In the meantime, excuse me while I go and enjoy my soup…

U can’t touch this (2)…

I had a post in this particular brand of instant noodles not too long ago and HORROR OF HORRORS!!! Imagine my shock yesterday when somebody shared a link to this video clip on Facebook to bring the matter to my attention…

If you are not proficient in Mandarin, it seems that the noodles are banned in Taiwan and this is due to the presence of certain chemicals used as preservatives in the seasoning – namely methyl p-hydroxybenzoate and benzoic acid, permitted for use only in the manufacture of cosmetics, that are harmful to your health. If consumed, consumers are at risk of vomiting. Also, when consumed regularly or in amounts substantially, consumers will suffer metabolic acidosis, or too much acid in the body.

You can read the detailed report here.

I understand that this particular brand is the best seller in New Zealand and with all their stringent laws and checks regarding the import of food into the country, I am very surprised that it has not been banned there yet. According to the report:
The Indomie importer, Fok Hing (HK) Trading, said the noodles meet the food safety standards of Hong Kong and the World Health Organization, citing a June quality examination that did not find banned preservatives.

“The Indomie noodles are safe to eat and they entered the Hong Kong market via legal import channels,” it said. “The poisoned products found in Taiwan are suspected of being imported in illegal ways.”

It seems that two supermarkets in Hong Kong have taken the noodles off their shelves. Whatever it is, I am definitely not going to take any chances – I quickly informed my daughter in Wellington about this, asking her not to eat this particular brand anymore and on my part, I still have two big packs of the noodles that I bought when I was in Kuching…but in view of  the situation, I will resort to using my own seasoning when cooking them…and that would be mean that I will be tossing the cooked noodles with Bovril instead.

As they say, better be safe than sorry…

Born for this…

This really very delectable dish is actually for mothers during their 30-day confinement period after the delivery of a baby…

Kacang Ma 1

Locally, it is called kacang ma. It is a Hakka specialty where chicken is cooked with a lot of ginger and white wine…and used to be more commonly enjoyed by people in Kuching. Among the predominant-Foochow population in Sibu, the women will usually eat mee sua in chicken soup with ang chiew (Foochow red wine) and ginger instead.

I did not cook this though. Actually I was planning to so that day but my friend beat me to it. He and his wife are actually from Kuching and the missus is due to give birth to their third child in early November. Since the eating of kacang ma is not as widespread here, they are afraid that the confinement lady may not be able to cook it, so the onus is on the hubby to master the skill and cook it for the wife while she is in confinement.

It certainly looks like he did a pretty good job…

Kacang Ma 2

…and when the time comes, you can guess who will be dropping by the house uninvited to help the missus finish the kacang ma. LOL!!!

Kacang ma is actually the leaves/herbs. I did not know the English name for it until I chanced upon this recipe book featuring many of the special Sarawak dishes including Foochow mee sua and ang chao meat…and even fried midin (jungle fern). Then only did I know that it is actually called motherwort herb…

Kacang Ma recipe

I googled and found this piece of information:
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca [Latin]), also called leonurus, lion’s tail, and heartwort, has been used to treat heart disease and depression for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recommends motherwort to promote longevity and treat menstrual disorders. Today motherwort is still recommended by herbalists for treatment of heart palpitations and anxiety, and to encourage normal menstrual cycles.

Recent studies performed in China have shown that motherwort helps prevent blood clots, relax the heart muscle and lower blood pressure. Motherwort contains lionurine and stachydrine, alkaloids that not only help lower blood pressure but also have a sedating effect on the central nervous system, which supports motherwort’s traditional use as a treatment for depression and anxiety.

Gee! It certainly has a lot of benefits! I didn’t know that…

Under the same sun…

I have two blogger-friends from the Philippines – bluedreamer and Ishmael Ahab…and I’ve found that we have some similarities in our languages. After all, aren’t we all under the same sun?

Correct me if I’m wrong but we call a chicken “manok” in local Sarawak Malay and also in the ethnic languages and so do they…and our bean sprouts or taugeh, they call “to-ge” while our”siew mai” is “shoh mai” to them…and male is “lalaki” in Tagalog, almost the same as our “lelaki” in Malay….and I just learnt the other day that jackfruit is “nangka” in both our languages. Amazing…but true eh?

Well, I was watching Tablescapes – the Filipino food, cooking and travel show and I saw an old lady cooking balao-balao fried rice. Wait a minute! Balao-balao is in fact, fermented shrimps or what we call cincaluk…and we do have that here as well. It had been quite a while since I last cooked my cincaluk fried rice, so I decided to have that to go together with my baked pandan fish that I had featured in yesterday’s post.

These were the ingredients that I used…

STP's cincaluk fried rice - ingredients

– sliced onions and finely-chopped garlic, thinly-sliced chillies, prawns and two stalks of serai (lemon grass)…and of course, some cincaluk or balao-balao.

I fried the onions and garlic in oil till brown, added the chillies, serai and prawns and stirred till the prawns were cooked and then I added two tablespoons of cincaluk…plus half a tablespoon of sugar to counter the saltiness of the cincaluk. Next, I added the rice and mixed it thoroughly with all the ingredients. Finally, I broke two eggs into the wok and blended that into the rice and added half a teaspoon of msg.

After giving it all a really good frying in the wok, the cincaluk fried rice was soon ready to be served – with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions on top…

STP's cincaluk fried rice

Looks good, doesn’t it? Tasted good too… LOL!!!

Why does it hurt so bad…

Once, I was having the set lunch at a local hotel and there were a few slices of it in the complimentary soup. Initially, I thought they were ginger…but later, I found out what they actually were and ate up those few slices. They actually tasted quite good. But later, I came down with what I figured was gout.

We very rarely eat it. In fact, I can safely say that we never eat it anymore. We have not had it for a long, long time. I remember when I was young sometimes my mother would cook it in with pork in tomato sauce and at other times, she would put it in her sayur rebus (kampung-style boiled vegetable soup). Then my father had some problems with a nerve as a result of an extracted tooth and everytime he had it, the pain would come back. So we stopped eating it altogether, along with a whole lot of other things.

My missus loves it very much though. I saw some at the Bandong stall the week before last…and I told her but added that I did not buy for her to eat as she had this recurring back pain and all kinds of pain all over. She did not look too happy, so when I saw them selling it again, I bought RM2.00 worth of it for her to eat…

Bandong's rebung masak lemak

I’m talking about bamboo shoots. What is it about them that will cause pain? People say that we should not eat too much kangkong or paku either as these are “cold” and may lead to rheumatic pain…and nuts and beans including bean sprouts (taugeh) can trigger off gout attacks because of the high protein content. Then they also claim the kuchai (chives) will bring out all past sicknesses that one may have suffered from before while lobak putih (white carrot/radish) will “wash away” whatever medicine you have taken and render them ineffective. Personally, I eat most of them but in moderation as I’m not really a fan of any of them. Do you know of any others that should be avoided?

Well, if I may digress a bit from the topic, while I was at the Bandong stall that day, I also bought RM2.00 of this buah kedondong sambal

Bandong's sambal buah kedondong

It was very nice and certainly contributed towards stimulating one’s appetite. But I would prefer buah emplam though.

Generally, fish is a bit expensive at the stall. They sell this kari ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret curry) at RM2.00 a piece and it is not a very big piece…

Bandong's kari ikan bawal hitam

…but then again, fish is expensive these days and getting somewhat scarce.

This is expensive, that is expensive. You can’t eat this and you can’t eat that! What is there that is left for us to eat? Sigh!!!

Good for you…

I got the following information from this website:

As for health benefits, the unsaturated fat content in peanut butter helps reduce the risk of heart disease by 25% (if you eat 1oz per day), its rich folate and niacin (vitamin B3) content helps increase the HDL (good cholesterol) level by as much as 30%, all while being a very good source of proteins (up to 25% of peanuts consists of proteins) and dietary fiber; the most unique property of peanut butter, though, is its high content in Resveratrol, a substance that’s been shown to have very strong anti-cancer properties.

So, do you take peanut butter? Not me! I don’t usually buy them as they’re way too expensive…especially the imported ones that can go up to over RM10.00 a bottle. But the other day, I spotted two at a supermarket here that were on offer – around RM6.oo for one brand and RM3.95 for this one…

Peanut butter 1

These are due to expire in November but as far as I know, there isn’t much one can do with peanut butter other than to eat it with bread or with cream crackers. I love putting margarine or butter on one slice and peanut butter on the other…

Peanut butter 2

Then I sandwich them together, dunk it in my coffee…

Peanut butter 3

…and eat it. Yum! Yum!

I guess it is ok with big families. The bottle of peanut butter will disappear in a jiffy…but most of the time, I’m the only one in the house eating that, so I doubt I can finish the whole lot by the time November ends.

Anybody with any wise ideas as to what I can cook or make with peanut butter, by any chance?

Dangerous…

I was at my parents’ place as usual that morning…and I was doing some editing work at the table when I spotted some of these…

Cotton buds 1

…so I took one and started twiddling it in the outer part of my ear. Imagine my horror when I found that I only had the stick in my hand! Good grief! The tip must have fallen into my ear!!!

I quickly called the maid to have a look but she said there was nothing inside. We searched all over the floor and there too, we found nothing! Then, I called my father who was already out on his daily rounds in town by then…and he took me to his regular barber. The man saw nothing in my ear…so he just did a bit of cleaning for me and that was it!

Now, just where had that darn thing disappeared to?

Cotton buds 2

Later in the afternoon, I was thinking that perhaps I should go and see a doctor…and off I went before 4.00 pm to the specialist in town. The girl at the reception counter said that he had gone out but she would call him…so I waited…and waited…and waited. It was definitely past 4.30 when I gave up and told the girl that I had changed my mind. So, I went home, the mystery still unsolved.

I did not feel anything, no pain…no discomfort but after a session of karaoke singing the following afternoon, I thought that one ear felt different from the other ear. So, after dinner that evening, I went back to see the doctor with my missus tagging along. Once again, he wasn’t there and they had to phone him but after a not-too-long-a-wait, he came.

I told him that I was cleaning the outer ear and it fell in…

Cotton bud 3

and he retorted, “If you were cleaning the outer ear, the thing would NOT fall in!” Wait a minute…I was about to respond to that but in the end, I refrained from doing anything of the sort considering that I would be at his mercy once he started poking things in me…I mean, in my ear! LOL!!! After all, he’s the wise and learned one – he’s a doctor!

He made me sit on a special chair and used an instrument to check my other ear. I could see the image on the television screen above my head. It was nice and clean! Of course it was! And I guess that would go into my bill too, doctor?

Then he checked THE ear…and lo and behold! There was NO cotton bud inside!!! See, doctor, I wanted to say to him! I TOLD you I was cleaning the outer ear! So the cotton bud did not fall inside after all! But there were two bits of hair inside, so he remarked, “Nope! No cotton bud inside…but you succeeded in pushing some hair into your ear.”

It just crossed my mind then that normally we do not have hair in our ears the same way we have it in our nostrils though I have seen people with hair growing out of their ears…, I think. So I asked the doctor, “Where did the hair come from?” And indicating with his instrument, he said, “Here!!!”  I could see on the television screen that he was pointing it at the hair on my head. Hah!!! I didn’t say anything more after that! After all, he’s the wise and learned one – he’s a doctor! Hahahahahaha!!! I made no mention whatsoever that I had been to see a barber who could have got the bits of hair into my ear. What he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him! LOL!!!

Then he took another instrument and started sucking everything out of my ear – the hair and God knows what else. The noise sounded like I was having liposuction at that point in time, but unfortunately, no! Sigh! I could have been slimmer after that! Hahahahaha!!! And that was it!

So, there was NO cotton bud in my ear and for that peace of mind, I had to fork out RM30. In fact, I thought that was pretty cheap…as I heard that specialists would usually charge no less than RM50 for consultation fee alone before cashing in on everything else! Perhaps, I was given some special concession as he and my missus were both in the same field. Whatever it is, thanks, doc! Now at least, I can be sure that there’s no cotton bud in my ear.

But the mystery remains… Now, just where has that darn cotton bud disappeared to?