Have a nice day (1)…

It’s Faisaladmar‘s 2*th birthday today, so from Ajil aka Fazil and me, a very Happy Birthday to you, Faisal, many happy returns and may the coming year be filled with happiness and all good things that you wish for.

Well, actually it was Ajil who told me about it. He was in town over the weekend to shop for groceries and stock up on supplies and as it seemed,  he was sporting a new look – unshaven…and no wise cracks from you, Faisal! Hahahahahaha!!!

Ajil - unshaven

We went to this cafe that I had blogged about before for lunch. I had the kolo mee special and got this…

Rafie's Cafe kolo mee

…and this bowl of sup tulang (bone soup)…

Rafie's Cafe sup tulang

The kolo mee was no kolo mee, that’s for sure! It was something like kampua mee with soy sauce…and the taugeh (bean sprouts) and shredded chicken added certainly had very little effect as far as enhancing the taste was concerned. The soup was all right though somewhat diluted and came nowhere near the ngui chap I had in KK.

I ordered a glass of Nescafe tarek and it came out with the froth overflowing…

Rafie's Cafe Nescafe tarek

If only they had added a bit more coffee…as it was kinda weak – no kick at all and hardly comparable to Ruby Restaurant’s blended kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee).

Ajil has this plate of nasi goreng Pattaya (Pattaya fried rice)… Rafie's Cafe nasi goreng pattaya

He did not say anything, so I guess it was not that great!

In the evening, he wanted to go to visit Colonel Sanders. Goodness gracious! There are actually people who love the stuff at these fast food outlets. I cannot even remember the last time I ate at the colonel’s or his counterpart, Ronald’s…but since he had a craving for it, we went to the outlet at Delta Mall near my house.

Both of us had this Zinger burger…

KFC's Zinger

…which was pretty nice and I quite enjoyed it, and a piece of chicken – hot and spicy…

KFC's hot and spicy...

The two items plus a drink were going for around RM10 plus – one of those value meals. Well, what does everybody think? Expensive or not?

After the meal, we went browsing around the shops at the mall, including the Popular Bookstore branch there. Ajil bought a few things…

Ajil - shopping

…but sorry, Faisal, he did not buy you anything for your birthday. ROTFLMAO!!!

It’s the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Jie) today, so Happy Chap Goh Mei, everybody and have a nice day

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Smile…

I always pay my bills at the Rejang Park Post Office because of its location. It is very convenient for me to stop by on the way home from my parents’ house to my own, but since they started paying the RM600 rebate to motorists, the place has been very crowded and I am sure things are not easy for the personnel there and more often than not, tempers are wearing thin. In fact, the situation got even worse when they started renovating the Sibu General Office in the town recently. The place became very much more congested than what you can see in this photograph taken sometime in June 2008…

Queue for RM600-rebate

Well, sometime ago, I went to pay some bills as usual and when my turn came, I found the Malay lady at the counter very moody and sulking away. Probably she did not have a very good day or it might have been the fasting as it was still a puasa month, a couple of days before Hari Raya Aidlifitri. I handed over the bills and the money and after she had finished processing everything and was returning the bills to me, I smiled at her and said, “Thank you very much. Selamat Hari Raya!” Instantly, a radiant smile flashed across her face and she replied, “Thank you!”

Then, the other day, I went to the post office again. Well, it certainly seems that that is all I do most of time – paying bills, and the terrible weather these days is not helping very much in bringing a bit of cheer into one’s life! They have made some improvements to the place now – there are seats provided and it is now airconditioned. I took my number and waited and when my turn came, I approached the counter. It was the same Malay lady and the moment she saw me, she smiled ever so sweetly and greeted, “Happy New Year!”

Somehow, the dark, cloudy and very gloomy weather did not seem so bad after all. That is all it takes to brighten up someone’s day – a friendly greeting and one warm smile…..

Come together…

I had an invitation from Yan to a special dinner at her house the other night in conjunction with Chinese New Year…

yanonsecondthought.blogspot.com

…together with fellow-bloggers, Victor (Thanks for the lift, Victor!)…

victorkiu.com

…and Rubberseeds

rubberseeds.blogspot.com

…as well as her staff from the office. There was an elaborate spread at the buffet table, all cooked by herself. That lady is really amazing!!!

There were a few seafood dishes, including this steamed freshwater fish – semah – that somebody in the Kapit office had given her…

Yan's CNY dinner 1 2009

These Kapit fish like this one or empurau are worth their weight in gold – easily some RM200 or RM300 a kilo!!! It was absolutely out of this world…and you can bet that I had seconds and thirds! Then, there was this dish of butter prawns that could rival any restaurant or food outlet in town…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 2

I think I had at least half a dozen and thank goodness, I did not have any gout attack the following day. I stayed away from these steamed crabs though…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 3

I couldn’t be bothered to go through the hassle of removing the shell, considering especially that it was a buffet dinner. The duck was nice…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 4

…and so was the chicken, though I felt there was a bit too much ang chiew (red wine)…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 5

I would prefer my steamed/boiled chicken plain like those at the Hainanese chicken rice stalls. Being the very health-conscious lady that Yan is, it came as no surprise that the poultry dishes came out skinless! (But I love the skin!!! Hahahahaha!!!) There was chicken curry too…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 6

…which tasted nice but this is what I would refer to as Foochow or Chinese curry – a bit too watery and not very spicy. One of these days, Yan, I’ll host a dinner and invite you to come and taste mine. LOL!!! Perhaps that will have to wait till my daughter comes home for the holidays next month (…the poor girl missing out on all the yummy food mah!). I did not take a photo of the beef stew which was deliciously tender but it was served in a claypot casserole and everything was drowned in the gravy too. I would prefer it thicker and probably, a little bit less of it as well. Then, we had pizza…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 7

…and Yan’s pride and joy – her chicken pie!

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 8

It was indeed very nice with its rich buttery taste…and I loved the pastry – very well done, simply perfect! Most of the time, my pastry will turn out too hard…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 9

There was salad with its creamy dressing and as Yan was serving baguette with the yummy freshly-made peanut butter she had brought home from Australia, I told her that she could have mixed a bit of it with the salad cream to get something like what we usually have in the family for our salads. Hmmm…that’s another thing I can include in the menu when I ask her over for dinner – salad with the Dimong clan special dressing!

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 10

She made some garlic bread too but I did not try that, and there was a plate of fried midin (jungle fern). Believe it or not, the current market price of the veg is RM9 a kilo!!! I wish everybody would boycott and refuse to buy to force the sellers to keep the prices low, otherwise they would end up with a whole lot of withered unsold vegetables in their hands!

And we had champagne…courtesy of Malaysia Airlines!!!

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 11

The cabin crew got to know that she would be hosting a dinner function as she was planning the menu on board on her flight back from Down Under and as she was about to disembark, they gave her the bottle of champagne specially for the occasion. Well, they’re not the world’s No. 1 cabin crew for nothing…and one of them is a blogger-friend of mine! Thumbs up for MH – Malaysian Hospitality!!! (But then again, she was flying Business Class, so that’s a different story altogether! LOL!!!)

Well, it was indeed an honour to make it into your guest list, Yan! I’ll be taking next month (March) off…so I’ll host one around that time then. Your name’s first on the guest list, that’s for sure! Thanks so much for the delightful dinner…

I try…

I first heard of fried mee sua (thread/string noodles) sometime ago from a colleague of mine in my former school, and the first thing that came to my mind was, “How did they manage to fry it?” Those of you who are familiar with this Foochow longevity noodles would know that normally, we would boil the noodles and serve it in chicken soup cooked with lots of ginger and red wine. But if you do not add the soup quickly, you will end up with the noodles in a lump, all stuck together like some kind of cake.

Sibu Foochow mee sua

This particular colleague of mine sang its praises and encouraged me to go and try – at the Sheraton Restaurant. I don’t actually recall when I actually got round to doing that when I did, I found it very oily and was not very impressed. Perhaps I had caught them on a bad day. However, lately, I quite like what we have been eating at the Ruby Restaurant and it seems to be getting very popular, so much so that other places now have it in their menu as well.

Well, yesterday morning, I thought I’d give it a try, so I boiled some mee sua and once softened, I rinsed it in cold water a few times to remove the starch and loosen the strands. Putting the noodles aside, I fried a bit of chopped garlic in oil and I threw in some ingredients that I could find in the fridge – a bit of minced meat, some shrimps, taugeh (bean sprouts) and I threw in an egg as well. After sprinkling in a bit of chicken stock, I added the mee sua and stir fried it until it was mixed thoroughly with all the ingredients. Then, it was ready…

STP's fried mee sua 1

It looked okay, so next came the acid test…the eating!

STP's fried mee sua 2

Yes, the noodles were in loose strands, not all stuck together and the taste was…very nice! But for one thing, I would have to do something about the colour. Maybe I can just serve it on a bed of lettuce with some slices of tomato on the side, or perhaps I should add a little bit of soy sauce for a darker shade, sliced chillies for a bit of red and green veg or spring onions for a touch of green. That will make it more presentable, I suppose, but it will  have to wait till another time, should I try to fry mee sua again…

A little bit of soap…

Mine is not a food blog even though many seem to think it is. Neither is it a political blog. I would like to think of it as a rojak blog touching on anything that may be of interest, but usually I will avoid sensitive matters pertaining to things such as race or religion, for instance.

Well, yesterday, I was wondering what I would feature in today’s post when I spotted the headline in our very own local newspaper. Yes, Yan…I am a loyal supporter! (Do I get a special ang pao, Yan? LOL!!!) Anyway, this was what attracted my attention…

Newspaper report

I don’t know if anybody else does, but I can recall quite clearly a report in the same newspaper sometime ago, I think it was on the front page, on the proceedings in the state legislative assembly about a request put forward by the representative on the other side – the one from a constituency in the vicinity of Sibu. He had requested for liquid soap to be made available from dispensers in public toilets, instead of bars of toilet soap…and the first thought that ran through my mind at that point in time was – Gee! Don’t they have more pressing issues of greater significance to put forward and discuss? In the first place, do they ever provide bars of soap in public toilets? Not that I know of! Anyway, according to the report, the proposal was accepted.

Right away, I had this mental picture of the typical Sibu people going round from toilet to toilet with empty mineral water bottles to collect the liquid soap for sale or for their own private use at home. Worse still, they might even dismantle the dispensers and cart them home too or sell them off as scrap metal!

And perhaps you may want to put it down to my wild and over-active imagination, but when things as such crop up, where private suppliers are involved, I start to wonder about hanky-panky going-ons, things that may transpire under the table – I scratch your back, you scratch mine. But of course, maybe that is all there is to it – just my imagination running away from me.

But that was quite a while ago and yet they have not carried out what they had planned way back then. Good grief! They are still JUST talking about doing it! Does it take that long to fix a few liquid soap dispensers in the public toilets in town? In fact, I don’t think there are that many of them.  Well, truth be told I don’t know the exact number as I would normally just drop in at the nearest hotel and make use of the CLEAN toilet…and they have fragrant liquid soap in dispensers all ready for use. Shhh….don’t tell Tony! Hahahahahahaha!!!

Frozen…

Here we are, grumbling about the flood and the incessant rain! Subsequently, a whole lot of finger-pointing and mud-slinging evolved. Silting in the river, some said, was the cause! Poor drainage was also to blame. I say you have not done anything, you say I have not done anything and to date, I don’t think anybody has done anything!

And I wouldn’t think it’s any consolation either that Chap Goh Mei or the Lantern Festival is just a few days away and the King Tide that night is 6.1 m and 6.2  m consecutively for the  next three days, compared to only 5.8 m, the highest around Chinese New Year time…and it still rains quite a lot these few days, don’t you think?

We have been getting a lot more rain than usual and one obvious cause, of course, is global warming which has led to drastic climatic changes and extreme weather conditions. I was watching BBC news yesterday morning and was appalled by the severe snowing that they are experiencing in the UK and other countries in Europe, including Spain which normally would be quite sunny…

Snow in London 1Snow in London 2

Somebody who was interviewed on air commented that it was the worst he had seen in his lifetime and the newspapers said that it was the worst snowfall they had since 18 years ago. The funny thing is they just try to cope with it the best they can – none of those senseless childish squabbles that we find here in our midst. So while the arguments are dragging on day in and day out and whether they get to settle matters in court or not, I guess the rest of us will just have to fend for ourselves and get prepared for the possibility of another round of flood on Chap Goh Meh!

Incidentally, another thing of interest that I saw on the BBC news was the incident involving the visiting Chinese premier to the UK.  He was addressing an audience at the Cambridge University (Cambridge, no less!!!) when somebody threw a shoe at him! Gee! It certainly looks as if that is the trend these days after somebody threw one at Bush the other time.

Who knows? When the state elections come around, we may get to see a lot of shoe-throwing right here as well, during the campaign speeches, for instance. Never mind! The candidates have ample time to practise ducking flying shoes…and looking at it on the bright side, the loser can always collect the shoes and venture into business after the election – selling shoes! ROTFLMAO!!!!

P.S.: Considering the fact that the world is experiencing extreme climatic conditions, there is every possibility that by sometime around the middle of the year, it will be extremely dry and scorchingly hot here and who knows, we may end up with a haze as bad as the one in 1997 – unless the authorities concerned have the foresight and initiative to start working on that now to ensure it will NOT happen! Really, it does not help one bit just talking about it and blaming one another when something has already happened. As the old adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure!”

The way it used to be…

Maybe it’s because I’m growing old but somehow, Chinese New Year is no longer like the way it used to be. For one thing, these days, we get to eat and drink anything we want anytime of year, so there is no longer very much to look forward to e.g. the bak kua (barbecue meat), the special dishes during the reunion dinner, the cakes and the cookies, the made-in-Sibu Ngo Kian aerated drinks or Green Spot orange from the shop at Blacksmith Road, or even the Red Lion drinks (including ginger ale for the brandy or whisky served to visitors during the open house) and Coca Cola that we used to buy in glass bottles and packed in long rectangular wooden crates from this shop in town – Kim Guan Siang along Cross Road.

We got very excited over the less sophisticated fireworks and firecrackers – the small ones, that is…

CNY mini firecrackers

I remember how we used to tie the pieces together into one long strand to light at midnight on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Much care had to be put into it so that it would not come loose halfway. Later, they came in a roll pre-tied and I guess that took away half the fun. We also had another bigger variety but none like the explosives we have these days that can rival the two world wars put together.

In the weeks leading to the festival, my maternal grandma and the daughters would get together to make the cookies. I would tag along and follow my mother there and lend a hand in clipping the patterns on the kuih bangkit

Kuih bangkit

…using this special instrument with serrated edges…

Kuih pattern clippers

We would also make the pineapple tarts together. For that, somebody would make the pineapple jam way ahead and we would roll it into marble-sized balls. Then, the pastry was made and Sun Valley bottle caps were used to cut out the base for each tart. For the sides, long strips of the pastry were prepared. The jam balls were placed on the base and the strips were used to wrap around them. Then we would use the same instrument to clip the pattern on the sides.

I can recall what pleasure we derived from using the leftover pastry cut into very thin strips to make the designs on the tarts. Everyone would claim ownership by  having their initials on them – so mine would have an “A” on top. The kuih bangkit and jam tarts were baked in a brass traditional oven over a wooden fire with the embers placed on the lid as well…

Brass traditional oven

My last surviving single aunt gave this to me before she passed away and of course, there is no way I will use it to do any baking but instead, it is kept in the display cabinet in my house – a treasured family heirloom to cherish for generations to come!

Some of those instruments that we used to clip the patterns on the cookies had wheels on one end with serrated edges as well and when we rolled the wheel on the pastry, we would get a wavy line. We used those to cut the pieces of kuih kereta

Kuih kereta

My mother said that my grandma used to make it by the tin for the children to eat – 8 of them and they could not afford to buy cookies the way we do these days, expensive imported ones at that too!!! Well, eventually, it became a regular feature among the cookies for Chinese New Year together with this kuih gunting

Kuih gunting

Today, everybody will just buy the cookies and cakes from the shops and bakeries or somebody may know of some very nice homemade ones. But somehow I feel that it takes away to some extent, the joy of the festive season where the family would get together to get the goodies ready for the special occasion…and somehow, no matter how simple or plain they may be, I actually look forward (and my mother too) to eating these everytime Chinese New Year comes around. They’re like part of the family heritage somewhat.

Sadly, I do not know how to make them and I guess not many of us  actually do. There used to be a girl who grew up with my grandma and single aunties and took good care of each of them when they fell ill and subsequently left this world. She is able to do all that (In fact, she was the one who made and gave me the kuih kereta and kuih gunting; she didn’t make any kuih bangkit or kuih tart this year), but she’s married now and has a family of her own. The way things are going, it certainly looks like all these would become vague memories of the way it used to be…until they eventually fade into oblivion.