Oh no! (2)…

It rained heavily on Tuesday…and it was hot but fairly clear on Wednesday and the weather was fine on Thursday morning when I took this photo…

Wisma Sanyan Sibu

Just look at the beautiful clear blue sky! I wonder how long this will last though…because when I sent Sophia to the airport in the afternoon that same day, I noticed that people had been burning here and there along the way and at no less than two places in the distance, I could see thick smoke billowing into the sky…

Burn

If this hot weather persists and people keep on burning like there is no tomorrow, rest assured that the horrible haze that we experienced just a few days ago will be back soon enough with a  vengeance. Thankfully, it rained quite a bit again yesterday so hopefully, with the rain we have been getting at regular intervals, we will be spared of the ordeal.

Already  a lot of people are dropping like flies – complaining of fever and sore throat, cough, running nose…and with the H1N1 rampantly claiming lives each passing day, I am sure everyone is worried, extremely worried. I only hope it is just something resulting from the miserably bad air and the excruciatingly hot weather, and not the dreaded pandemic…and if this on-going burning is not stopped completely and immediately, things are going to get far worse.

And talking about the Sibu Airport, I wonder why nobody has complained that the door to the gents (to the left of the arrival lounge exit) is always open!

Gents at Sibu Airport

I do not know who designed it but two out of the three urinals are located in full view from the outside. I wonder which pea-brain made the suggestion but they have put something in front of the door, Unfortunately, it is quite obvious that it is simply too low to make any difference. Perhaps they should extend the partition inside…or just close that @#$%&* door! Tsk! Tsk!!!

Let’s dance…

Well, the Borneo Cultural Festival is here again. I did not go at all last year…and I don’t think I will be going again this year. I dropped by a couple of times before but that was just to buy some of the local delicacies on sale at some of the stalls e.g. the ayam pansoh (chicken cooked in bamboo).

My ex-student cum blogger-friend, Victor, was there and he took a lot of very beautiful photographs which he shared on Facebook. I don’t know why his blog has been inactive since the middle of March, so I guess if you’re not connected with him on FB, you will not get to see these…

BCF 1

BCF 2

BCF 3

Thanks a lot, Victor, for giving me your blessings to post a few of your photographs here. I’m sure everyone will agree that they are really very nice and will entice anybody to come to Sibu and be part of the festival. Sorry, no photos of the food though…but I guess if you go blog-hopping, there will be some Sibu bloggers who would have posted some of those in their blogs.

For one thing, I can’t stand the heat…and I hate walking around especially in crowded places and with the current piggy flu pandemic, I guess it’s best to be careful.  So wearing a mask when going to the venue of the festival may be a pretty good idea and be sure to make a run for it should you happen to see somebody looking like this…

HINI
(Pic from Gundot via email; original source unknown)

As “that fella” said in yesterday’s BP, it is better to be safe than sorry… LOL!!!

Going out of my head…

BRAIN DAMAGING HABITS

1 No breakfast
People who do not take breakfast are going to have a lower sugar level. This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain, causing brain degeneration.

2 Overeating (Oops!!!)
It causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power.

3 Smoking (Oops again!!!)
It causes multiple brain shrinkage and may lead to Alzheimer disease.

4 High sugar consumption (Oh dear!)
Too much sugar will interrupt the absorption of proteins and nutrients causing malnutrition and may interfere will brain development.

5 Air pollution
The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, bringing about a decrease in brain efficiency.

6 Sleep deprivation
Sleep allows our brain to rest. Long term deprivation from sleep will accelerate the death of brain cells.

7 Lacking in stimulating thoughts
(Those who memorise their way through exams, please take note!)
Thinking is the best way to train our brain. The lack of brain stimulation thoughts may cause brain shrinkage.

8 Talking rarely
Intellectual conversations will promote the efficiency of the brain.

Extracted from a recently-received email. Author and source unknown.

Smells like teen spirit…

Nope, it certainly does not smell like teen spirit. As a matter of fact, many old people smell of it, old women in particular. A Kuching friend once called it the “Foochow perfume” (Now, don’t shoot me! I wasn’t the one who said it! LOL!!!)…

Minyak cap kapak

This is “Minyak Cap Kapak” or Axe Brand oil or what we call “hong eyew” (wind oil). It seems to be some kind of panacea; they use it for insect bites, headaches, stomachaches…and if you have heat stroke, some Amazon-like Foochow woman lady would come and pour a whole lot of it on your back shoulders and neck and pinch you black and blue. When I was still working, sometimes I would get bitten by a mosquito or something and all I needed to do was to ask around the office and without fail, there would be some lady who would fish a bottle out of her handbag…and let me use it.

Students would keep a small bottle handy in their pencil boxes to apply when their heads started to spin and some would even apply some on their eyes when they felt sleepy so they could stay awake. I did not mind this…but I could not stand the other type – green in colour with a strong horrible smell. Somehow, I do not seem to notice its presence that much these days. Maybe people do not use it anymore? I wonder if those of you who are younger are familiar with this “Minyak Cap Kapak”.

And since I’m recalling things from days gone by, you may remember the radiogram that I was talking about in an earlier post. Later in the late 70s, I bought one of these in Singapore…

SHARP portable hi-fi stereo

This is a SHARP portable stereo hi-fi. Someone was saying the other day that stereophonic sound reproduction was the in-thing in those days. This set is quite heavy, despite the claim that it is portable…and it incorporates a radio tuner with an FM band, MW (medium wave, now known as AM) and short-wave bands…and a cassette recorder/player. In those days, we could record songs playing on the radio on blank cassette tapes, so to prevent that sort of music piracy, radio announcers/deejays had to “speak over the songs”.

I had just started teaching in a rural town then…and that set was used during school assemblies, talks, forums, meetings and even parties! One can tell from the size of the speakers that it was loud enough. So at parties, we would play the songs on cassette tapes, thus eradicating the problem of the stylus jumping grooves during the “chu tor liao lor!!!” (the house is falling down) phenomenon! For the uninitiated, these are cassette tapes…

Cassette tapes

…or at least, the cassette cases, and this is what a cassette tape looks like…

Cassette tape

There is a very thin tape rolled up inside a plastic casing…and you should not fast-forward or rewind it too often as it would stretch the tape and spoil it. If it gets stuck in the rollers, you must get it free carefully because it may break easily…and that would be it! Bye, bye!!! If you keep it for too long, the brown coating may come off and stick to the playback head in the player and ruin the sound production. In a nutshell, it had a lot of problems…and eventually gave way to the compact disc (CD) as you know it today.

Well, that should be enough for this time. We’ll go for a walk down memory lane again some other time… 

Heal the world…

What do you grow in the garden? Flowers? Nice to look at, troublesome to take care? Now, certain quarters are asking people to grow their own vegetables but if you don’t have green fingers or are so lazy like me, forget it! Instead of all that trouble, just buy the cheaper veg in the market!

So what do I have in my garden? Well, I have lemon grass (serai) which I use regularly in my cooking. They say the smell will keep away mosquitoes…and even if you live in high-rise apartments or condominiums, you can grow them in pots. Nice spicy fragrance…

Lemon grass (serai)

I have adapted this regarding its health benefits from http://www.buzzle.com.
Lemon grass is known for its calming effect that relieves insomnia or stress. It is also considered as a mild insect repellent. Lemon grass has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Mixed with pepper, it is a home therapy for menstrual troubles and nausea. Drunk as tea, it is an effective diuretic. Lemon grass is a good cleanser that helps to detoxify the liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder and the digestive tract. It cuts down uric acid, cholesterol, excess fats and other toxins in the body while stimulating digestion, blood circulation, and lactation; it also alleviates indigestion and gastroenteritis. Lemongrass also helps reduce acne and pimples and acts as a muscle and tissue toner. Also, it can reduce blood pressure. Lemon grass can be used as a remedy for fevers and colds.

I also have some pandan or screwpine leaves. Instead of buying expensive fragrant rice (which loses its fragrance during storage once you have opened the bag), you can put one or two leaves in your rice cooker…and as the rice cooks, the nice pandan fragrance will fill the whole house… 

screwpine (pandan) leaves

And pandan has its health benefits too, according to http://www.essortment.com
The medicinal uses for this tree are as follows: The entire plant is used as a diuretic, the roots have anti-diabetic properties, and the leaves are used for treating diseases of the skin.

Then I have the indispensible curry leaves. Just drop a few into whatever spicy dish you’re cooking and without fail, it will enhance the flavour. Why, you may have noticed that they even put that in butter prawns in the restaurants…

Curry leaves

As for the health benefits, this is taken from http://www.nzhealth.net.nz
Curry leaves improve the functioning of the stomach and small intestines and promote their action. They improve the quality of digestive juices secreted during digestion. Their smell, taste and visual impression initiates salivary secretion and initiates the peristaltic wave, which is the first step in good digestion. They are mildly laxative and thus can tackle multiple digestive problems caused by food intake.

A paste of these leaves with limejuice and honey/sugar/crystal sugar powder is a time-tested medicine in the treatment of hyperemesis graviderum. Nausea, dry vomiting, vomiting and food intolerance are a few other conditions where this paste is used as a remedy. Curry leaves have some role in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery and idiopathic loose motions. Certain ayurvedic research says that curry leaves have some role in controlling non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Many people have also reported weight loss. One ayurvedic school recommends powdered root/bark for relief from kidney/biliary pain. Traditional healers have observed some effects on premature greying of hair. Few have tried curry leaves for treatment of minor burns, bruises, abrasions, etc.

Another useful plant that I have is lengkuas or galangal, a must-have in curries or when you are frying sambal udang kering (dried prawns sambal)…

Galangal (lengkuas)

…and it is good for health too! According to http://www.zhion.com,
lengkuas or galangal is also a source of sodium, iron, vitamins A and C. Like ginger, galangal has been used for medicinal purposes to treat nausea, flatulence, and dyspepsia. Galangal has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities. It may benefit people at risk of cancer. Galangal has shown to have anti-oxidative and free radical scavenging activities. It modulates enzyme activities and suppresses the genotoxicity of chemicals. Galangal may have benefits of lipid-lowering. Researchers from China found that the galangal extract could potently inhibit fatty-acid synthase. Korean researchers showed a pancreatic lipase inhibitor.

And I am sure everybody knows how useful aloe vera is for insect bites, skin irritation and what not. Actually, you can remove the green skin, take the jelly and rinse thoroughly to remove the slime (which actually is good for you) and cut into small bits and serve with syrup for a delicious healthy dessert!

aloe vera

This extract about the aloe vera is from http://health.learninginfo.org:
Aloe Vera gel is often thought as having one specific function: cooling and helping to heal sunburns. In fact, Aloe is an amazing plant with a wide ability to aid in the healing process, to protect, moisturize, and even extend life. It is a cellular regenerator and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects. Magnesium lactate in the minerals contained in the plant, bringing relief to insect bites, acne, sunburns, rashes, and other topical conditions, Aloe makes sense. Taken internally, it can be used as a laxative and to destroy certain bacteria or parasites in the intestines. Unsubstantiated claims include that it can help heal ulcers and settle a queasy stomach. The gel from the plant can heal, control the accumulation of fluids, and reduce pain. Aloe can reduce inflammation and discomfort caused by fungi and bacteria. In a study performed on lab rats, they showed lowered occurrences of various diseases including arterial thrombosis and leukaemia.

So think green! Have these in your garden and you are in fact contributing towards saving the environment…and at the same time, you have your own spice bazaar as well as natural pharmacy right outside your door!!! And haven’t I read somewhere that we should look at things green in colour regularly as this is good for our eyesight? Gee! Is that why at my age I still don’t need spectacles and I can read messages on my cellphone without bringing it right up to my nose…unlike some people? ROTFLMAO!!!

Welcome to the black parade…

Gundot emailed me this photo sometime ago…

Unique ceiling

It is actually a lounge for smokers with a very unique but somewhat morbid ceiling. I wonder who came up with that idea! LOL!!!

To be honest, I smoke too…but not at the expense of others. When I am at airconditioned public places, I will make it a point to go outside to smoke. Thus, when Sophia took me and my family to dinner at The Junk in Kuching, a relatively posh place with relatively high prices, we were somewhat put off when a guy at the next table started smoking. The management said that people could smoke there as the windows were open, but giving due consideration to the other diners, they should have smoking and non-smoking zones. After all, they have tables along the five-foot way outside, so those who wish to smoke can just go there.

Freaky Nami's photo@www.flickr.com

Here in Sibu, a place that I frequent quite regularly is the coffee house at Garden Hotel because the food is nice and comparatively cheaper for places like that. But unfortunately, I have encountered somebody smoking on more than one occasion. They have a nice and comfortable open air section with ceiling fans…and yet, those inconsiderate individuals simply refuse to eat there. In the past, the place doubled as a pub after 9.00 p.m. with Filipino bands playing ear-splitting music. There was a sign that stated that smoking was prohibited except after 9.00 p.m. but when I had lunch there, there were people puffing away like a chimney. Once, I complained to the captain on duty but she said diners were permitted to smoke. Then, when I asked her about the sign, she just walked away with an expression on her face that seemed to imply that I was the fuss-pot, the bad guy!!!

Elfleda's photo@www.flickr.com

Anybody else has had some unpleasant experiences like these?   

Gimme more…

All my life, I had never eaten sweet potato leaves…until my friends, a young couple, moved from a rural town to Sibu and they planted that in their backyard.  The first time they gave me some, I did not know how to cook them, so I had to ask around and somebody told me that I could just cook them like kangkong.

Last Friday, I saw some for sale at a grocery shop in my area at RM1 a bundle, and I bought one to fry for dinner. It was easy, quite hassle-free, in fact. I just chopped some garlic and cut some chillies, fried that in oil together with a bit of belacan and in went the leaves, adding a bit of ikan bilis (anchovies) stock to them just before serving them on a plate. This was the dish I had for RM1.00, not inclusive of the bit of ingredients that I had used…

Fried sweet potato leaves

On one occasion, my friends gave me one plastic bag full of the leaves…and I left them in the kitchen sink, planning to cook  them later. Then an ex-colleague came to my house to help me repair some leaking pipes and when he saw the leaves, he asked me where I had got them from. He said that they had high medicinal value and were not “cold” like kangkong which would be bad for people suffering from arthritis or rheumatism and the like. In the end, since he was praising them to the skies, I asked him whether he wanted them…and he did! He took away the whole bag full!!! Sulk! Sulk! LOL!!! 

Well, I’ve googled and found some interesting information on those sweet potato leaves, so I would like to share it with everybody…

From http://ifitandhealthy.com:
According to a new research from the University of Arkansas, sweet potato leaves are chock-full of disease-fighting antioxidants. In total, they contain 15 different compounds that could help prevent heart disease, diabetes, infection and some types of cancer.

From a comment on
http://marcsala.blogspot.com

According to LSU professors in Food Science and Horticulture, sweet potato leaves are high in lutein, protective against age-related macular degeneration.

From http://www.tandurust.com
The leaves of sweet potato are…anti-diabetic. They are helpful in lowering blood sugar.

Gee! That ex-colleague of mine obviously knew his greens. The sweet potato leaves actually taste very nice, nicer than kangkong and now that I know they are so beneficial, gimme more…anytime!

Well, just to wrap up the post, that day, we had this plate of steamed white pomfret (ikan bawal putih) to go with the sweet potato leaves.

Steamed white pomfret

I certainly eat simple food and live a simple life, don’t I? LOL!!!

Eat it…

I was on a weekend trip with some friends recently and one of my friends was cooking breakfast for the whole group. I went over to see what he was cooking and saw he was getting ready to make a big batch of eggs. Well, to my shock and horror, I noticed that he was cracking the eggs open and screening the egg whites into a bowl and throwing out the egg yolks.

I asked him why the heck he was throwing out the egg yolks, and he replied, ‘Because the egg yolks are terrible for you. That’s where all the nasty fat and cholesterol are.’

And I replied, ‘You mean that’s where all the nutrition is!’

Oyster omelette
Oyster omelette: Camemberu’s photo
from http://www.flickr.com

This is a perfect example of how confused most people are about nutrition. In a world full of misinformation, somehow most people now mistakenly think that the egg yolk is the worst part of the egg, when in fact, the YOLK IS THE HEALTHIEST PART OF THE EGG! By throwing out the yolk and only eating egg whites, you’re essentially throwing out the most nutrient dense, antioxidant-rich, vitamin and mineral loaded portion of the egg.

The yolks contain so many B-vitamins, trace minerals, vitamin A, folate, choline, lutein, and other powerful nutrients…: it’s not even worth trying to list them all. In fact, the egg whites are almost devoid of nutrition compared to the yolk. Even the protein in egg whites isn’t as powerful without the yolks to balance out the amino acid profile and make the protein more bio-available, not to even mention that the egg yolks from free range chickens are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Yolks contain more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and panthothenic acid of the egg. In addition, the yolks contain all of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K in the egg, as well as all of the essential fatty acids.

Poached egg in instant noodles

And now the common objection I get all the time when I say that the yolks are the most nutritious part of the egg…’But I heard that whole eggs will skyrocket my cholesterol through the roof!’…No, this is FALSE! First of all, when you eat a food that contains a high amount of dietary cholesterol such as eggs, your body down-regulates its internal production of cholesterol to balance things out. On the other hand, if you don’t eat enough cholesterol, your body simply produces more since cholesterol has tons of important functions in the body.

And here’s where it gets even more interesting…There are indications that eating whole eggs actually raises your good HDL cholesterol to a higher degree than LDL cholesterol, thereby improving your overall cholesterol ratio and blood chemistry. And…high cholesterol is NOT a disease!  Heart disease is.

Fried egg with nasi lemak
espion’s photo from http://www.flickr.com

So I hope we’ve established that whole eggs are not some evil food that will wreck your body…and actually whole eggs are FAR superior to egg whites. Also, your normal supermarket eggs coming from mass factory farming just don’t compare nutritionally with organic free range eggs from healthy chickens that are allowed to roam freely and eat a more natural diet. I recently compared eggs I bought at the grocery store with a batch of eggs I got at a farm stand where the chickens were free roaming and healthy. Most people don’t realize that there’s a major difference because they’ve never bought real eggs from healthy chickens. The eggs from the grocery store had pale yellow yolks. On the other hand, the healthier free range eggs had deep orange coloured yolks indicating much higher nutrition levels and carotenoids.

Free range eggs
Free range eggs: smallar and paler but nicer taste. 80 sen each at the shops in Sibu, 60 sen direct from supplier

One more thing about eggs…I read a study recently that compared groups of people that ate egg breakfasts vs groups of people that ate cereal or bagel based breakfasts.  The results of the study showed that the egg eaters lost or maintained a healthier bodyweight, while the cereal/bagel eaters gained weight. It was hypothesized that the egg eaters actually ate less calories during the remainder of the day because their appetite was more satisfied compared to the cereal/bagel eaters who would be more prone to wild blood sugar swings and food cravings.

Disclaimer: I received the above from a friend via email, so I am in no position to claim it to be gospel truth. As always, it’s your body and you decide what you want to stuff in it.

Just like a pill…

Now, now…calm down, everybody.  This is NOT going to be a post on contraceptives! Well, if you’ve noticed, I’m using titles of songs for all my posts (except for a couple of earlier ones) and this is the closest that I can get to what I am going to share with all of you.

As we all know, there is this shift in the medical world to alternative medicine and that includes natural herbs, even those that we can find growing around us. For one thing, I understand that herbal medicine takes some time before there can be any effect.  Recently, I saw the label of one for osteoarthritis (The composition includes ginger, lemon grass, tumeric and so on!) that states that it will take a week or up to a month, so if the pain persists, the indiviidual can take painkillers in the meantime.

I have also been told that some of these herbal treatments will detoxify and cleanse the body and improve blood circulation to enable the body to handle whatever health problem the individual is suffering from, thus promoting recovery through natural healing.  Some people, on the other hand, insist that they should not be taken together with western medicine because not enough research has been done and there may be unwarranted contradictions.  Others say that they will wash away all the western medicine you have taken, rendering them virtually useless; in fact, the same has been said about Chinese tea.

Well, I am not in any way prescribing or asking anybody to follow suit but I have been taking these leaves for a few years now and my blood tests have been encouraging – none of those threatening luminous yellow highlights (though rather high on my triglycerides) in the reports!                                 Well, these are daun hempedu bumi or andrographis paniculata. I understand that they can lower a person’s blood pressure, and others claim that it can lower one’s blood sugar level.  There have been cases of friends and relatives (or their parents) who have taken these leaves…and they will testify to the fact that they are very effective.  Actually, you can google to read up on these leaves; there are quite a number of websites that will provide you more detailed information on them.

Last year or maybe it was the year before, the Sarawak Herbal Society published a series of articles on medicinal herbs in a local newspaper and these leaves were featured in one of them. The article claimed that the leaves could be helpful for many kinds of ailments and even inhibit the growth of any cancerous tumour in the body.

I usually drink it once a day. I will pluck a few leaves every morning and place them in a mug and then, I pour boiling water in it.  After sometime, I will drink the water…but be forewarned! It is extremely bitter (The MOST BITTER bitter gourd will pale in comparison!)…but after having been drinking it for so long, I can just gulp it all down in one go. Anybody wants a cuppa…?

P.S. Another intention of mine in wanting to post on these leaves is to show off that I CAN take and post good, clear photographs! Now, anybody has any more complaint??? Humph!!!! LOL!!!