Not by choice…

I guess everybody knows by now that I am staying away from a lot of things, not by choice but because of health reasons. For instance, I am off red meat and I’m staying off noodles – I will eat just a bit of rice and anything made of rice e.g. bihun, kway teow and dianpianngu. and I shall have to control myself when eating those as well – a little bit is fine, not too much! Of course, I have to stay away from sugar and go low on salt. I guess it comes as no surprise that what I eat these days isn’t very appetising, not anything that I would be looking forward to at all.

I eat a lot of fruits but I have to be selective – some are too high in their sugar content, others have too much potassium and phosphorus. Sweet cakes and cookies are out which leaves very little that I can eat for breakfast or for tea in the morning. No, my weekly tests show that I do not have a problem with my blood sugar but of course, it pays to be careful when it comes to these things.

The other day, I saw them selling these tausar peah (bean paste biscuits)…

…at a coffee shop here. They said a lot of things but in Mandarin and they insisted that they were not sweet. In the end, I decided to buy some to give them a try.

They were only RM1.10 each, the skin was very flaky and very nice, not sweet at all…

…but as far as the tausar filling was concerned, even though it was not very sweet, to me, it was sweet enough to be of concern. I think I would have to spread them out, one piece a day for breakfast or tea…or less and I would give some of them away.

I also dropped by this bakery that day – they make the nicest Swiss rolls in town. My girl loves the strawberry…

…but they have not been making that since those one or two times when I managed to grab one from there. They only had the coffee/vanilla so I bought one…

…and took it home. The ladies in the house said it was very nice but of course, I was very good and kept my distance the whole time. I felt I could do without the sweetness, never mind that it was not VERY sweet.

I’m eating the buns that I bought from there though, the pandan lotus paste…

…and the butter buns…

They’re very nice and we have enjoyed eating them all this while. The filling is a little on the sweet side so just like the tausar peah, I shall have to control myself and spread them out instead of eating too many at a time.

I don’t know if it was just my imagination but things did not look too good at the bakery. It was rather dim inside – they did not switch on all the lights and the Indon helper who used to man the cashier’s counter was no longer around. They probably sent her home already.

Other than that, there were not many things available, all placed on a small table beside the door – they used to fill the shelves but this time around, whatever was available was quite limited. There was only one pack of each of the buns that I bought, for instance. I did see the nice coconut roll…

…that I bought from there once, just one, but I did not feel like having that so I did not buy that.

YAT BAKERY (2.293035, 111.835887)…

…is located along Lorong Chew Siik Hiong 1A, directly opposite Uncle Dom, at the other end of the block of shops where Sushi Tie is in the commercial centre behind the Rejang Medical Centre.

At night…

Except for Saturday evenings when we go for the sunset service in church, we hardly do anything at night these days. In other words, we just stay home and never go out at all.

We sit down for dinner at 6.00 p.m., more or less and we should be done by 6.30 or so. Then I would adjourn upstairs and have a shower before retiring for the night. No, I don’t go to sleep that early, around 7.00 p.m. but I would not want to go downstairs again – going down is easy, it is the coming up that is the uphill task! Truth be told, I am certainly no longer as agile and as mobile as before any longer.

In the meantime, I just laze around in our master bedroom and watch reruns of “The Nanny“, “The Jeffersons” and “Mr. Belvedere” on my smartphone or “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” (not screened in Malaysia) from the BBC. Funny how I used to watch those shows on TV but I cannot remember ever seeing those episodes before!

I would usually call it a day at around 9.00 p.m., earlier on some days, a bit later on others but that night, at 8 something, my dumbphone (as opposed to my smartphone, my antique NOKIA 3310, also called a brickphone) rang. It was Yan of Yan on second thoughts. She said she had just touched down, after flying in from Kuching for the long weekend (it was a public holiday here on Friday, 22nd July – Sarawak Day) and she would stop by my house on her way home to pass me a few things.

Oh dear! I was already upstairs, ready to hit the sack so I asked my girl and the mum to go out and meet her and get the things she brought. Wowwwww!!!! She brought a whole lot of goodies that she made herself! There were these delightful scones…

she did give me some before and they were so so so good!

Other than those, there were these brioche buns…

…and pork patties…

…too.

Of course, that was red meat, not for me but I did sample a bit and yes, it was so very good. The ladies in the house sure enjoyed the burgers…

…to the max while I could only watch them eat…

Poor me!

Nonetheless, a big thank you so so so much to Yan, my kind and generous friend and thanks especially for going through all that trouble to make all those things yourself…and sending them over to my house. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more!

Yes! I could not resist having a scone for breakfast the next morning and that sure appeased my constant craving for my favourite English traditional breakfast even though I had it without the clotted cream and fruit jam -the buttery fragrance was enough to sweep me off my feet!

Finally over…

It was in June 2020 when my friend/ex-student, Alex dropped by my house to give me a pineapple, a 2.5 kg nanas sawit. According to another ex-student of mine, currently in the fruit business in Kuching, this is the best variety when it comes to pineapples.

I took the crown – the spikes/leaves on top and planted that part of the fruit. Later, I heard that I would have to wait for two years before I would get to see any fruit and true enough, in May this year, after 1 year and 11 months, a little fruit FINALLY appeared. Earlier this month, we noticed that it had grown too big, so big that the plant could not support it and we had to tie strings to hold it up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready yet for the plucking.

Well, the other day, after all this time, way over two years, the time came and my missus went and harvested the fruit…

It had not turned completely yellow/orange but my missus was afraid that if we waited much longer, it might over-ripen and go bad inside.

Usually, when I buy pineapples from the shops, I would ask the seller to peel them for me. I don’t know if he/she will charge me for that or not – I never asked. I just happily paid the total amount before grabbing it and taking it home. I guess I did not have a choice so I had to peel it myself!

Firstly, I cut off the crown…

No, I did not bother planting that, lesson learnt! I sure would not want to wait another two years to get to enjoy the fruit.

Next, while holding on to the stump, I peeled off the skin…

…after which I cut crevices/ridges in the fruit to get rid of the “eyes”…

Once done, the pineapple will look like this…

Lastly, after cutting off the stump, I sliced it up into long slices and removed the core…and then, I cut it further into smaller pieces…

Usually, we would eat it just like that or with rojak sauce (prawn paste) or use it to cook a dish…

It was so very sweet, especially the part that had turned orange/yellow.

I went and googled and found this about pineapples: “Kidney health is extremely important, and if you want to do everything you can to keep them functioning well, incorporating pineapple into your diet is a great way to start. This delicious fruit is packed with nutrients that are beneficial for kidney health, including vitamins C and B6, manganese, and Bromelain.” Needless to say, I ate a lot of the fruit of my labour and seeing that it is good for me, I shall be going out to buy more, that’s for sure.

Make up your mind…

Last Saturday, we went out for lunch as usual.

One thing I’ve noticed about the ladies is how they always do not seem to have anything in mind all the time. When you ask them what they would like to eat, they would just say they do not know or they have no idea whatsoever. In the end, I would have to decide on behalf of everybody but the moment we get to our destination, suddenly the ideas would start pouring in!

That was the case last Saturday as well – nobody had any place in particular in mind so I said I would come to a decision all by myself. I had the very nice crusty and crispy, absolutely delicious lemon chicken (RM20.00 – the standard “new” price for their meat dishes here)…

here, my girl’s favourite, in mind. I had a feeling that they use chicken breast for this dish so it would be perfectly all right for me to eat it, no red meat involved and I was right!

Along the way, my girl asked where we were going and I told her – she sure seemed pleased with my choice of venue and when we reached our destination, I dropped them off and went to park the car before walking there myself.

The moment I sat down, the mum declared that she would want their Foochow fried noodles, wet/with sauce (RM6.00)…

…and my girl said she would like the fried glass noodles/tang hoon (RM6.50)…

Gee!!! I wonder why the latter is a bit more expensive when the serving seemed a bit smaller and there were fewer ingredients added. Perhaps, glass noodles are more expensive than regular noodles…or they would have to add an egg to fry the dish, hence the extra charge.

Of course I was quite pissed off by that! If everyone ordered their own noodle dish, then everyone would be too full to eat much else. In that case, ordering a few dishes, including the aforementioned lemon chicken to enjoy with rice, would be out of the question. Unfortunately, everyone turned a deaf ear and stuck to their decisions.

Left with no choice, I decided to order a noodle dish for myself…

…their tomato kway teow (flat rice noodles) with the much sought after, very popular ikan tapah (RM18.00)…

Yes, that was very nice. The fish was good even though it was pretty obvious that it did not come cheap (and personally, I still prefer some of my personal favourites like the siakap or the lajong).

Well, I was not going to give up that easily so I also ordered a plate of the lemon chicken to share. It was so very nice but sadly, we did not have any rice to go with its most delightful sauce and had to leave all of it behind.

This wasn’t the first time…and knowing what the ladies are like, it is definitely not going to be the last!!!

Y2K CAFE (2.294220, 111.825753)…

…is located in the Tunku Osman area, round the corner from that block of shops where the branches of AmBank & RHB Bank are located with its back entrance facing the side (right, not the main one) entrance/exit of Methodist Secondary School.

Let’s hear it for the boy…

Mdm. Lau, the owner of my favourite fish stall not far from my house, has a few young boys working for her. They are very nice and friendly, independent workers and trustworthy and ever so often, Mdm. Lau would be nowhere to be seen, leaving everything to these boys.

I like one of them in particular especially when I look at how he does his work. Whenever I buy any fish, he would ask me how I would like to cook it – it seems that there are different ways to prepare the fish depending on whether you want to deep-fry or steam it…

The other day, for instance, I bought some barramundi (ikan siakap) and like the previous time I bought one from him, he removed all the scales till completely clean – many fishmongers would not do a good job and I had to do it all over again when I got home.

After that, he proceeded to cut open the fish and gut it, removing all that was inside including that black streak inside along the middle bone – some say that’s the blood of the fish. My girl is very fussy – the instant she sees that, she will not go on eating anymore!

Finally, he will cut the fish down the middle to split it open, still attached at one end. I understand this is the butterfly cut for fish that we would like to steam…and believe it or not, he would do all this for his customers free of charge!!!

The moment I got home, all that my missus had to do was to rinse and wash the fish clean and placing it in a plate, she would steam it…

I did not stick around in the kitchen to see what else she did but I guess eventually, she would add the sauce and the ingredients before steaming it further till it was done…

Gosh!!! That was so good! It was so very sweet and fresh, very smooth and void of any fishy smell whatsoever, absolutely delicious…

…and the best part was it worked out to only around RM17-18.00 each, less than half the price of the ikan lajong we had at the restaurant that day and everyone agreed that this was a whole lot nicer and yes, we had a lot more to eat too – the fish was big enough for the three of us for lunch as well as for dinner!

There are some very popular fish like the white pomfret (ikan bawal putih) or the ikan tapah or the tilapia that they will serve you at most, if not all, the Chinese restaurants in town and a lot of people seem to like them a lot, not me…and besides, they sure do not come cheap. I would much sooner settle for this barramundi or ikan siakap and enjoy it a whole lot more without feeling the pinch.

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.

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.

Getting used to it…

The other day, Monday, my girl had something on in school so I had to go and get her in the afternoon when she was done with whatever was going on. On the way, I decided to stop by my favourite kuih stall at Rejang Park to pick up a few things for our afternoon tea once we got home.

I bought their chai kueh

…or what they call mangkuang kuih in Kota Tinggi, so I’ve been told. I guess this is safe for me to eat as if I am not wrong, it is made from rice flour and there are only vegetables inside, no meat at all.

These are not the best in town…

…but they are pretty good. I would rank them among the top few that we have around here. They used to be RM1.00 each but I had to pay RM6.00 for a pack of 5 – obviously, it has gone up to RM1.20 each. Even with the hike in the price, there were only 2 packets left, take it or leave it!

My missus did not buy the ang koo kuih when she stopped by here in June so I just had to grab a pack. I took the yellow ones…

– I think those were the ones with the skin made from pumpkin, hence the colour. I simply could not resist buying some to buang gian (appease the craving) even though I know jolly well that I should not be eating those. Thankfully, the ones they make here are not very sweet, the mung bean filling and I just had ONE, that’s all!

Yes, the price had gone up too – they’re RM6.50 a pack, RM1.30 each. Long ago, they were RM1.00 each. They did say something about the red ones going for RM6.00 only a pack, RM1.20 each. I wonder why those are cheaper.

I noticed that the ladies in the house enjoyed the or koi (deep fried yam cake) that day so I asked for 5 pieces of the small ones for them. These were the bigger ones…

…that my missus bought that day. I don’t know how much she paid for them but the ones I bought, half the size, were 70 sen each.

I guess at a time like this with the prices of virtually everything going up, we have no choice but to just learn to get used to it…and hope and pray that it will not get much worse than this.

Incidentally, if it is any consolation, my pineapple (the kelapa sawit variety)…

…in my garden is growing so very well. At this point in time, it is so big and heavy that the plant is unable to support it so it is actually leaning towards one side. I guess it is not ripe yet so I shall have to wait a while before the time comes for me to harvest it.

LIM TIONG KHAY Chinese kueh stall (2.306707, 111.836471)…

…is located beside the Chinese medical store among the shops at Rejang Park in the block facing Jalan Teruntum to the left of what was formerly the Zenith Mint Cinema.

Not good for you…

I guess most of my regular readers would know by now that I am on a low sugar diet and in this connection, I am also on a low carbs diet to avoid those hidden sugars. Well, it doesn’t look too good, I’m afraid and now, I shall have to avoid all red meats, dairy products and all kinds of seafood, except fish, and I have to stick to a low sodium (salt) diet and so on and so forth.

That, of course, means that these days, I can’t just go out and eat anything that tickles my fancy and that was why when we went out for lunch last Sunday, I had to pick a place while the food was on the mild/bland side so as to be more suitable for me.

We dropped by here and I asked for their steamed fish (RM38.00)…

Much to my delight, they had our favourite freshwater fish, the ikan lajong, that I really enjoy a lot. We had not had it since the outbreak of the pandemic and because it is not a seawater fish, they do not have it at my favourite fish & seafood stall near my house.

They said they would cut up the fish and serve us a slice that would be big enough for the three of us and that was exactly what they did. It was very nice, very mild…

…if I did not take too much of the sauce – that was on the salty side, so good with rice or when dipping the fish in it to eat. The meat of the fish was so smooth and silky, no smell whatsoever and so very fresh and sweet. Of course, the high price tag attached to it was expected but personally, I thought it was really worth every sen since we all enjoyed it so much.

Moving on, a long long time ago, during those days when my mum was bedridden, my dad would go and tapao (pack & take away) food from places of his choice in town. This restaurant was one of his regular spots and he would buy this crispy chicken with deep fried onion rings (RM26.00)…

…quite often.

When it was served, suddenly I remembered eating that before and how we used to enjoy it. Somehow or other, all this time, it had completely slipped our minds and that was why we never ordered that.

My girl loved the delightful onion rings…

…and because it was half a chicken, much of it was breast or white meat so it was all right for me to eat.

We also ordered their own-made tofu with chicken and mushroom (RM10.00)…

…and their midin (wild jungle fern) ching chao (RM8.00)…

…and much to my surprise, they have retained to old prices for the last two dishes. I did notice at some other places that meat or seafood dishes would be nothing less than RM20 now and vegetable dishes, a shocking RM15.00.

The total for the food came up to RM82.00 – no, it wasn’t cheap at all but it was worth it considering how we enjoyed all that we had (and there was a bit of the chicken left for us to take home) plus service was great – very prompt and efficient and our orders came pretty fast even though the place was crowded, more or less full with customers coming and going non-stop.

NICE HOUSE RESTAURANT (2.29201,111.82739)…

…is located in the vicinity of the Tunku Osman shops, opposite Rejang Bookstore.

Back where I started…

Yes, it has been a month since my last routine visit to the doctor so the other day, I had to go again and yes, once again, I made it a point to go early so I got there before 8.00 a.m. and got myself registered at the receptionist counter. She said I could go out for breakfast or whatever and come back at around 9.00 a.m. and that was exactly what I did.

I went back to that same coffee shop next door but no, I did not order anything from the chu char (cook & fry) stall at the back. Instead, I went back to the noodle stall…

…where I had the noodles the first few times when I started going to that coffee shop.

I had the kampua mee the first time I was there and yes, I made it a point to check the current price…and yes, it is currently RM3.50 a plate too, the same as most of the other places in town.

The second time I went there, I had these pork rib noodles…

…RM6.50 at the time, 2017, not sure how much it is going for now but yes, I did see it on the menu. After all these years, they are still selling that!

They have all kinds of unfamiliar names in their list – Mee Taiwan, Lamb Urumqi Noodles and so on but there were no photographs so I had no idea what they were or what they looked like.

I did not feel like risking it so I did not order any of them and picked the fish ball tang hoon (glass noodles), RM8.00…

…instead.

Apparently, there were not that many fish balls compared to what I had here

…(and I guess that was why it was cheaper) but I like the texture of the ones here more, not overly-QQ but the soup was not as nice as that one and also the RM6.50 one that I had at that other place

I liked the tang hoon

…here though – they probably blanched or boiled it longer so it was softer and easier to chew and eat. They did not give any options but I guess if you wish to have bihun or kway teow instead, you can always put in your request and that shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Their special own-made sourish and spicy chili dip went well with everything and sure brought the taste up to a whole new level.

After I was done, I went back to the doctor’s clinic and much to my surprise, there was nobody else round. Perhaps, like me, they too had gone out for breakfast but they had not come back yet. The doctor appeared (after finishing his daily morning rounds at the medical centre) and I was called in, the first that morning. Ain’t that nice?

HAO KE LAI CAFE & REST (2.292095, 111.836698)…

…is located along Lorong Mahsuri 1B, off Jalan Pedada, in the block of shops to the left of the Rejang Medical Centre, main building.