There’s no need…

I do not know about the other Chinese dialects and races but among the Foochows, it is considered good manners when somebody gives you something to say, “Nei ah! Nei ah!!!” (No need! No need!) What I do know is in western societies, it is not like that – if somebody gives you a gift, you are supposed to open it right away and sing praises of the gift and declare how much you love it – I guess you also do that out of good manners even though you do not like it. LOL!!!

Well, Eric, the guy behind The Kitchen Food Sibu Instant Kampua, once went and paid some money to a fine dining restaurant here and asked me to go and eat…and there was some change and the people there paid me the money as they did not want to keep it. That was because I was blogging about his noodles and sending them to friends near and far to help promote his venture and that was his way of expressing his appreciation, that nice guy.

The other day, I blogged about his new product, the Sarawak laksa ramen and I also helped publicise it on Facebook. He sent me an invitation to breakfast and I replied no, thank you. Then, I shared some promotion at a café here and he said, “Let’s go!” and once again, I said no.

I will always help promote my friends’ cafés and restaurants, products and events but no, I never expect anything in return though there are some very kind and generous people who will always give me stuff or treat me to something nice and even give me special discounts when I go and eat at their place.

Mine is not a money-spinning blog nor am I one of those who call themselves influencers – mine is just a personal lifestyle blog, a diary of sorts and I will blog about what I do, where I go to eat, things that are nice…or not so nice and so on and so forth and if something is not nice, I will say so, maybe a little subtly usually.

But this Eric would not take no for an answer. Finally, he said, “I’ll give you some fish!” I just assumed that he would be one of those who would go out to sea and fish as a hobby so I said, “Right here waiting!” Then, the other evening, he messaged me to ask for my address as he would want to give me some prawns. I asked if he caught them but he said no, he just received some fresh ones, most probably from Sabah, and in no time at all, he was at my house to pass me these…

Tiger prawns

Good grief! Those tiger prawns were so big that just one would be enough for a bowl of laksa but this one…

Huge

…is humongous!!! I don’t think I have a bowl that big!

Thank you so much, Eric…but no, don’t do that again! I will go on blogging about your products or anybody else’s for my own personal enjoyment – the pleasure is all mine but don’t send anything over, please. Nei ah! Nei ah!!!

Corn…

In my childhood days, my mum would clear the land at the far end of the compound where our old wooden house was to plant corn. She would soak the kernels in water till they had sprouted roots and make holes in the ground into which I would put in two or three of the seeds. The variety of the corn then was not very nice – the young ones were all right but the older ones were not that tasty and quite a chore to chew.

These days, we have the sweet corn or what people call the Ligo variety…

Fresh corn

…but the prices have been soaring lately and they do not come cheap anymore, 4 for RM6.00, RM1.50 each.

When I shared a photograph of the corn on Facebook, a friend commented that he would buy them regularly but at times, they were sweet and at other times, not so. I replied telling him to look at the stems where they had cut the ears of corn…

Freshly cut

If it is white and fresh, then the corn would be fine. It it has turned brown and dry, then one should not buy it as chances are it will not be sweet and nice anymore, rather bland, in fact. The ones that I bought that day looked like they had been harvested the day before, not 100% fresh but they were still all right.

For this reason, I often wonder about those that they sell already peeled – have they done that so buyers would not be able to check as to whether the corn is fresh or not? It’s the same thing with those sold in pairs wrapped in plastic or cling film at the supermarket. How old exactly are those? Will they be as sweet as the freshly-harvested ones still?

Cooking is very easy – you just peel the ears of corn till you reach the final layer…

Peeled

Some say it will taste nicer if you leave that intact when you cook it compared to removing it all completely.

Just boil the peeled corn in water with a little bit of salt added…

Ready to boil

…and you will be able to enjoy eating them…

Corn on the cob

…in no time at all. It is so very easy.

Of course, there are other ways to do it – steam them or grill them on a hot plate, barbecue them and serve with butter (though usually, they will just use margarine and I am not fond of the taste and smell) or cook in soup like the ABC soup, for instance.

Thing of beauty…

As the English saying goes, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” I, for one, do love beautiful things and when it comes to crockery, my regular readers and acquaintances via blogs that I frequent would probably know that I have this soft spot for those blue and white ones in particular.

That was why when my sister sent me a photograph of one beautiful dinner set that she said she would give away if I did not want it, I wasted no time at all in saying yes, send it over!

I know vaguely where that came from – when my parents were still around, family and friends would give them gifts every Chinese New Year and this was most likely one of those in one of the years. Of course, my father had to buy stuff to reciprocate but that’s another story altogether.

In the set, there is one big service plate…

Main course plate

…for serving the main course and eight dinner plates…

Dinner plates

…slightly smaller than the big one and there are eight small (bread & butter) plates and eight soup bowls…

plates and bowls

…as well plus one big bowl which would come in handy when serving the soup if I were hosting a Chinese dinner. Otherwise, that can be used as a salad or fruit bowl, I guess.

Bowl

There are cups and saucers as well in the complete set but I did not want those as I do not usually serve tea and coffee at my dinners and I do not have that much space in my small house to store all of them. Even though there are other colours in the flowers in the middle, on the whole, it is blue and white and yes, I love it so much!

Cherished memories…

Everytime it was my parents’ birthday, I would buy something for them and maybe a cake as well, perhaps and at times, flowers for my mum too.

I remember buying this very nice casserole…

Casserole 1

…for her but I cannot for the dear life of me remember where or when. I don’t remember how much I paid for it either but I guess it was not much, probably something in the region of RM50.00. With my measly salary as a teacher, I wouldn’t be able to afford something very costly, that’s for sure.

All I can remember is I thought it was very nice and I was quite sure that my mum would love it. I do not know if she did. Typical Asians like us do not express our feelings all that much and all through the years, I did not see it in the display cabinets at the house and I don’t think I ever saw it being used either.

Anyway, the other day, I asked my sister if she had seen it lying around anywhere in the house and if it was still in one piece, I would love to have it back and she said yes and promptly sent it over to my house…

Casserole 2

When I bought it, I never checked the place of manufacture even. I only remember it looking quite classy, somewhat English or continental with images of ladies and gents dressed in clothes from the Dickens era like those on the lovely Quality Street toffee tin in the good old days but no, there were fruits by the side with lots of roses and leaves all over.

There was a plate…

Plate

…underneath and when I turned it over, I saw this sticker…

Sticker

Now, that’s interesting! It was made in Japan!

I turned the casserole over and I saw this…

Bottom

SANYO? Maybe it was a free gift with some SANYO product and they put it up for sale? And maybe that was why it was at a price quite affordable to the likes of me? I am pretty sure that otherwise, it would be mighty expensive.

At this point in time, I am not sure whether I will ever use it but I have  rearranged some of my collection in my cabinet to make way for it…

Casserole 3

…and there it will stay in its special place, in the meantime, cherished and treasured for the precious memory it holds of one so dearly loved.

Answered prayer…

This was sometime ago when we got wind of the news that my girl had been successful in her application for a transfer from her school in the jungle to one right here in town. Because of that, we decided to offer some flowers at the church that we frequent as a gesture of thanksgiving that our prayers at the weekly novena on Saturdays had been answered.

That was why I dropped by the florist I usually went to and I asked for five white lilies to signify the five decades of the Holy Rosary and ten red roses for the ten Hail Mary’s in each decade. What I did not know was that to her (the florist), five lilies meant five stalks and actually, on each stalk, there would be three or more lilies. In the end, I just let her do as she liked though I was not all that pleased with the end result…

Flowers 1

…and furthermore, the newly-arrived lilies had not bloomed yet. When I got home, I added some wild non-edible ferns from my garden and I felt that it looked a little better after that. That was on Ascension Thursday and by Saturday, a few days later, all the lilies had fully bloomed…

Flowers 2

…and yes, in my opinion, it did look much nicer after that.

Talking about those ferns, they sprout out of nowhere, here, there and everywhere, all along the fence at the back of my garden. This…

Fern 1

…is a different variety that I do not quite like so I would just pull them out and throw away whenever I do the weeding.

I prefer this one…

Fern 2

– the leaves have a nicer pattern so they look more attractive…or to me, at least. When I spot any, I would pull them out by the roots and transplant them in my pot of ferns…

Pot of ferns

…and they do seem to grow pretty well there.

There was another variety, the creeping kind that actually looked very nice, dangling from the pot but I hated how the tendrils would reach out to the neighbouring plants and start strangling them. In the end, I had no choice – I pulled them all out and threw them away.

You don’t bring me flowers…

I was delighted when I saw my mint flowering…

Mint flowers

…the other day. Generally, I do not have flowers in my garden – I would only plant things that I can use in my cooking or are edible so whatever flowers there may be are purely incidental or coincidental.

However, I have decided that I could do with a bit of colours in my life, not all green and I started working on this…

Floral circle

…what I call my floral circle.

These…

Golden showers 1

have yet to flower…

Golden showers 2

…but I think I will have to keep an eye on it. There were some lilies originally and my missus went and planted these at that same spot. They grew fast and furious and the lilies did not stand a chance against them. I have since planted the bulbs elsewhere in my garden and they do not seem to be doing too well – it has been a long time but they have yet to flower.

I have planted a couple of periwinkle seedlings here too and they are starting to flower…

Periwinkle

I don’t know where it came from originally – they just appeared out of the blue.

My missus planted these balsam plants as well a long time ago and the ones I have in the circle look very “fertile”…

Balsam

…but they have yet to flower. They are called cheng kak hua in Hokkien or fingernail flowers and are believed to be a natural remedy for fungal growth in toe nails. I had that problem once and a distant relative by marriage, a doctor in Australia prescribed some medicine for it – he said it was not a big problem just that the toe nails were a ghastly sight. Well, I went and googled and saw a list of the side effects of the medicine so of course, I did not bother to go and buy and take it. Thankfully, for reasons unknown, the problem just disappeared by itself eventually and because of that, I have never tried these flowers so I do not really know whether it works or not.

These were weeds that grew out of the cracks in my driveway and I took some to transplant in a more orderly manner and they have been growing well all this while. The purple flowers…

Purple

…are very nice but sadly, they will bloom in the morning and wither away when it gets a bit too hot. The good thing is they flower in abundance and there will be quite a lot at any one time every day.

I got the cuttings for this giant hibiscus…

Hibiscus

…from my girl’s school in the jungle. The mother plant that I planted in a big pot is doing well and I planted some cuttings from there here and they have started to flower. What caught my attention way back then was their size – bigger than a saucer, around the size of the plate by the side for your dinner roll in a western table setting or a bit bigger!

I do hope I will be able to add more flowering plants to the aforementioned circle so if anybody has some seedlings to give away, I shall be glad to accept and take them off your hands…

It doesn’t matter anymore…

In the late 70’s, I was posted to teach in a school in Kanowit. I stayed in a small rented room above one of the shops with nothing else other than a bed and a writing table…and a small table fan. I was literally living out of a suitcase and no, I did not have a tv.

Those were the days of black and white tv and being musically-inclined, there was a weekly programme that I particularly liked at around 5.30 p.m. on Sundays, Ready To Roll, a top hits chart show from New Zealand, if I am not wrong, and I do recall that this song, the cover by some girly singer, was Number 1 for a few weeks.

In order that I could watch the show, I had to go to a coffee shop in that little town to join many others there and because this song was not the favourite of everybody else except me and it was very long, they would all moan and groan and declare that when the song came on, it would be a good time to go to the washroom.

Anyway, the title of the song that I have used for this post makes me think of what we had to go through week after week after week picking my girl from her school in the jungle and bringing her home on Fridays and sending her back on Sundays and to say that driving on the still-under-construction Pan-Borneo Highway, otherwise known as the Pain-Borneo Hellway, was a nightmare would be an understatement. Well, the good news is, as the song goes, it doesn’t matter anymore!

The official letter was released on Tuesday, 11th June, 2019 and my girl was supposed to report in her new school on that day itself. However, it so happened that even though a copy of the letter had arrived at the office in Selangau, there was nobody dropping by that day to collect the mail so she could not leave her station just yet.

That was why on Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, my missus and I made our way to the school, stopping by the office along the way to get the official copy of the letter, duly endorsed by the officer…and before school was dismissed that very day, there was a special assembly to bid farewell to their teacher and she would be walking along that wooden bridge from her quarters…

SK Sg Sepiring

…to the car one last time after over 6 years since the day she reported for duty in March 2013.

I did notice when we sent her back to her school on Monday, after the two-week mid-year break, that the road had greatly improved…

PBH 1

…unlike the horrendous conditions in the first half of the year and it was getting worse by the day.

Now, many parts have been completed…

PBH 2

…and are open for use…

PBH 3

…already and even though there are still those sections that are in a rather deplorable state, these good stretches…

PBH 4

…are indeed a welcome relief.

I don’t know if these are going to be part of THE highway eventually or only temporary but whatever it is, I will no longer be going that way again, praise the Lord, and I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again – it doesn’t matter anymore!