Cruisin’…

This was supposed to come before the previous one but I clicked the PUBLISH button by mistake and “Kampung Love” jumped the queue. Anyway, you probably would have concluded from the lack of food posts prior to these two that I have not been eating out that much lately nor have I cooked anything special these last few days. Actually, among other things, I did manage to get hold of some “poomba” though and cooked it but I had a post on that already sometime ago.

Besides, my daughter and I have been going round the town for things that she can’t find in Sg. Petani (Kedah) or aren’t so nice there, but I’ve posted on them before too. However, the other morning, she wanted some nasi lemak, so we dropped by this coffee shop here in Sibu…

Sibu's Huang Chuang Cafe

…for Huai Bin’s favourite nasi lemak

Sibu's Huang Chuang's cafe - nasi lemak special

This is the nasi lemak special and nope, Huai Bin, you can’t have it for RM3.50 anymore. The price has shot up to RM4.00 despite the dropping cost of petrol. We were there too early (After 10.00 am, good grief!!!) and they had not cooked the curry or masak hitam and could only give us some fried chicken (Breast meat some more!) for the so-called special! The rice tasted good but I’ve a bone to pick about the lack of condiments – they were generous enough with the sambal but there were only some tiny bits of cucumber and I could count the number of peanuts! You can go back to this post and see the photo of how much more one would get for the nasi lemak special at the Happy Garden Malay stall at Sg Antu here. That was RM3.50 then…but I haven’t been there for a while, so I wouldn’t know if the price has gone up too. 

Other than that, we did stop by this place in Rejang Park as well…

Sibu's Master Bakery Cafe

It’s a cafe, so you can order the usual fried noodles and stuff and I noticed that they had dim sum too…and it is also a bakery. I went there to get the butter pastry…

Sibu's Master Bakery Cafe - butter pastry

…selling at RM1.00 each. If you put it in the oven to warm it up a little, the butter will melt and the filling becomes extra moist and fragrant and the skin becomes flakier. I would love a bit more filling though even if it means increasing the price to RM1.50 each. They also have other kinds of filling such as peanut or char siew (meat)…

Sibu's Master Bakery Cafe - assorted pastry

…and the 4th type is either kaya (coconut jam) or tau-sar (red bean paste), I can’t remember exactly now. But if you ask my friend, Jimmy, he’ll tell you that the best are the butter ones and I have to agree with him on that. My daughter also had a post on this butter pastry, among other things, sometime back.

Moving away from food, that day, my daughter and I were on our way to Tom’s (No, not the cheesecake place in Kuching but Gundot’s hubby’s house here) and enroute, we saw this… 

Sibu's unique house 1

Goodness gracious, that’s a HUGE house with an open deck at the top…and just look at the number of spotlights! Gee! If they switch them all on at night, it will look like something from the movie, “Close encounters of the third kind”…and that’s not all! Just take a look at what it’s like at the back…

Sibu's unique house 2

Ah well…as they say, to each his own and if they’re comfortable and happy with that, who are we to say anything? After all, it’s their money! LOL!!!

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Kampung love…

Hahahaha!!! Some of you may be wondering, “What? Is there such a song?” Well, the answer is yes, there is! It’s a Bidayuh (one of the Sarawak ethnic races) song that was a hit here a few years ago. You can click this link to watch the video clip. It’s really a cute and catchy song and you do not need to know Bidayuh to be able to understand what it is all about.

I’ve chosen that to be the title of this post because it is going to be about the kampung-style (village-style) fried rice that I cooked this morning…or more specifically, fried rice my style with sambal udang kering (dried prawns). Of course, in order to cook that, I would need to prepare the sambal and so I pounded some shallots, garlic and lengkuas (galangal) and chillies together and some udang kering (dried prawns) with a bit of belacan (dried prawn paste)…

STP's kampung fried rice - pounded ingredients

I fried the pounded ingredients in oil till golden brown and fragrant, together with some serai (lemon grass) and adding a bit of serbuk kunyit (tumeric powder) for a bit of yellowish tint and extra flavour. Then I added the pounded udang kering (dried prawns) and fried until it had turned a nice shade of brown and kind of crusty/crunchy before adding salt and msg according to taste.  The sambal udang kering was ready, so those of you who would like to prepare just the sambal to go with your rice, bread or crackers, that is how you can go about it.

After that, I added the rice and mixed it thoroughly with the sambal and as I had used a bit too much oil, I added two eggs as a solution to the problem. Hehehehehe!!! Then, the rice was ready…

STP's kampung fried rice

So there you have it – nasi goreng sambal udang kering (fried rice with dried prawns)! I garnished it with some thinly-sliced chillies, but you can also use chopped spring onions or fried ikan bilis (anchovies). Simple but nice!

Gift of love…

I was driving home one evening when I heard Dr James Dobson on the car radio. He had a very short but meaningful story in his “Focus on the family” feature that day. The moment I got back to the house, I sat down and wrote out my version of the story which I had included in one of my SPM English workbooks.

Christmas is just two weeks’ away and in conjunction with this festive season of hope and love, I would like to share this story with everyone. I have cut out a lot though so that it is much shorter and not so tedious to read. Well, the story goes like this:

Christmas was just around the corner. All the shops and complexes were gaily decorated with tinsel and colourful blinking lights on synthetic plastic trees, and cotton wool dangling from every nook and cranny in the bleak hope that it might pass off as snow. Shoppers dashed helter-skelter in search of the ideal gifts for friends and loved ones. Juggling with the boxes and bags in her arms, Mrs. Lim snaked through the crowd to her car, and finally headed for home.

No sooner had she reached the house than she bolted into the kitchen to get dinner ready, dumping everything on the table in the living room. “I’ve to start cooking, otherwise the whole family will have to go to bed hungry tonight.”

After dinner, Mrs. Lim settled down to wrapping the presents. The two older children were studying in their rooms while Janice was lying leisurely on the sofa, her eyes glued to the television screen, totally enthralled by the animated antics of Mickey Mouse

Christmas presents under the tree

Soon the much-awaited Christmas Day arrived. Everyone had gathered around the Christmas tree to open their presents. Donny and Marie ripped open all that had their names on them. In the midst of the excitement, Mrs. Lim spotted a quaint little box wrapped in newspaper.

Picking it up, she remarked aloud, “What is this? Is this from you, Janice” The little girl nodded, her eyes glowing. All eyes were on her as Mrs. Lim removed the wrapper.

“What is the meaning of this?” she shrieked; the anger in her voice was obvious. “It’s empty!” Turning to her daughter, she reprimanded, “Is this your idea of a joke, Janice? Are you trying to make a fool out of me?” At that instant, her palm landed on the little girl’s face, leaving streaks of red across her cheek.

Finally, Janice spoke. Through her incessant sobs, she said, “It’s not empty, Mummy. The box is filled with all my love and kisses for you.”

Mrs. Lim was stunned for a moment, and then, breaking down in tears and taking Janice in her arms, she pleaded, “Forgive me, darling. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s all right, Mummy, it’s all right. Don’t cry.” The little girl brushed her fingers over her mother’s face as the rays of the Christmas morning sun shone in through the window onto the mother and child below, entwined in each other’s arms.

Merry Christmas

Untitled…

I don’t mind the songs by the group, Simple Plan, but I must admit that I really like this one very much especially the video clip which is about drunk driving. You can click the link to listen to the song and watch the video if you have never heard it or seen the clip before. The message is very clear and one that everyone should take note of. 

It certainly seems that every holiday and festive season in the country spells doom for many as without fail, there will be numerous fatal accidents happening here, there and everywhere like the bus tragedy just the other day in Johore. Somehow or other, nothing seems to work to rectifiy this sad state of affairs.

Christmas is coming and here, I would like to share with everyone a poignant story that carries a message similar to the one in the Simple Plan song:  

On the last day before Christmas, I hurried to the departmental store to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. While browsing through the toy section, I noticed a small boy of about 5 years old, pressing a doll against his chest. He kept on touching the hair of the doll and looked so sad. I wondered who the doll was for. Then the little boy turned to the old woman next to him, “Granny, are you sure I don’t have enough money?” The old lady replied, “You know that you don’t, my dear.” Then she left him there while she went to look around the store. The little boy was still holding the doll in his hand.

I walked towards him and asked him who he wanted to give the doll to. “My sister wanted it so much and she was sure Santa would bring it to her this Christmas.” Then he continued, “But Santa cannot bring it to her where she is now. I have to give the doll to my mother so that she can give it to her when she goes there.” His eyes were so sad while saying this. “My sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that Mummy will also go to see God very soon, so I thought that she could bring the doll with her to give it to my sister.”

Then he showed me a very nice photo of him laughing. “I also want mummy to take this photo with her so that she will not forget me.” Then he looked again at the doll with sad eyes. I quickly reached for my wallet, took out a few notes and said to the boy, “What if we check again, just in case you have enough?”

“Ok,” he said. “I hope I have enough.” I added some of my money to his without him seeing and we started to count. There was more than enough, with a little bit extra! The little boy said, “Thank you, God, for giving me enough money.” Then he looked at me and added, “I asked God yesterday before I slept for enough money to buy this doll so that mummy can give it to my sister. He heard me. I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my mummy, but I didn’t dare to ask God for too much. But He has given me enough to buy the doll and the white rose. You know, my mummy loves white roses.”

A few minutes later, the old lady came back and I left. I couldn’t get the little boy out of my mind. Then I remembered a local newspaper report two days ago of a drunk man in a truck that had hit a car. A little girl in the car died right away, and the mother was in a critical condition. Was this the family of the little boy?

Two days after this encounter with the little boy, I read in the newspaper that the lady had passed away. I couldn’t stop myself,  went to buy a bunch of white roses and headed to the mortuary. The body of the woman was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed over her chest. I left the place crying, feeling that my life had been changed forever. The love that this little boy had for his mother and his sister is hard to imagine and in a fraction of a second, a drunk man had taken all of it away from him.

(Story abridged & adapted; original source unknown)

Just the way you are…

There was this box of NZ-imported mussels in the freezer, no prize for guessing who bought it (…at over RM20 a box! Gee whiz!!!)…but never got round to cooking them, that was occupying a lot of space (I have a small fridge, you see!), so I decided to get rid of it. I melted some butter in a pan, sauteed some finely-chopped garlic in it, added evaporated milk and one chicken stock cube and when it had started to boil, I poured it into the mussels that I had arranged on a baking tray. Then I sprinkled some cheddar cheese bits on top of each of them…and put them in the oven to bake. There you have it, my simple dish of mussels with cheese…

STP's cheesey mussels

It was very nice but somehow, after feasting on the rich western cuisine, one would get tired of it. Come to think of it, even when you have attended one Chinese banquet too many, you would yearn to go back to the simple delights that you are used to. I suppose that’s just the way we are…..

Well, my daughter’s no different. She’s been home almost a month now and a couple of days ago, she declared that she had had enough of the western dishes and would love some chao chai hung ngang (Big mihun in preserved vegetables chicken soup) – a Foochow specialty. You can click this link to go to her blog and see how she and the mother cooked it that day.

And the other day, when Bongkersz stopped over in Sibu on his way home to Sarikei from Miri, we agreed to meet for breakfast as he wanted to pass me some loot that he had got for me on his recent trip to duty-free Labuan (Thanks so much, Bong!)…and what did he have? Kampua and deep-fried kompia with meat filling…

Fried kompia with meat filling

After all the years in KL, he still craves for these local Foochow delicacies. We chose the Kopi-O Cafe at the Sing Kwong Mall in Salim here because of its location along the bypass to the Lanang Bridge across the mighty Rejang enroute to Sarikei. I decided to try the tomato kway teow that I had seen people eating the other day and it looked quite good…

Kopi-O Cafe tomato kway teow

…but it wasn’t really that great! A bit too much tomato sauce and the ones I had in the 70s in Kuching were way better! Given the choice, I would much sooner go for the fried kway teow – Foochow style (with gravy)…

Y2K's fried kway teow

…at Y2K, next to Mom’s in the Jalan Tunku Osman area here (RM3.00) or this dry version…

Foochow fried kway teow - dry

…that my daughter had at the coffee shop immediately in front of the Zenith-Minth cinema complex in Rejang Park here for only RM2.50 or somewhere around there. I had this plate of piping-hot Foochow fried noodles that day…

Rejang Park's Foochow fried mee

…and it was very nice. As in the case of kampua here, you can get it everywhere but some places are nicer than others. You will need to know where to go to. My daughter and I also had this bowl of fish ball soup for only RM2.50…

Rejang Park's fish ball soup

All in all, I paid RM10 something only, inclusive of drinks…which is equivalent to what you will have to pay for ONE plate of pasta al forno…and I am of the opinion that in fact, these local delights are not only much cheaper but also nicer! East west, home is best and as I have mentioned earlier, that’s…just the way we are!

Baby one more time…

Last week, my daughter and I took Gundot and her daughter, Sam, for a dim sum breakfast. Well, where else could we go to other than the Mitsu Tea House as the other places aren’t any good? They also have a dim sum stall at the Kopi-O Cafe at Sing Kwong Mall, Salim but when I peeped at what they had inside the bamboo baskets, I made up my mind right away that I would not be having any there. I don’t know about the taste but the things certainly did not look appetising at all.

We had the usual stuff such as siew mai, har kau, char siew pao and so on that I had featured in my earlier posts like this one, for instance. However, we tried a few new things that they had including this…

Mitsu Dim Sum 1

I don’t know what that was but it seemed like rolled up chee cheong fun steamed with pieces of meat on top and served with light soy sauce. It was quite nice but I would not go crazy over it. I did not like these meat dumplings though…

Mitsu Dim Sum 2

I suppose these were sui chiao except that they had a lot more filling than those that we can get at other outlets. They had a strong ginger taste which I did not like and that’s the same reason why I don’t like their siao lung pao which I have not ordered ever since the first and only time I tried some there.

Now, if I remember correctly, the first time I went to Mitsu Tea House was with Alex of the discontinued jienster.com and his brother, Andrew, of dunky.wordpress.com. That was when the restaurant first opened and I did not have a blog then. I can recall that the two brothers wanted the butter buns, probably because they had heard from somewhere that they were very good. I did not have any at all as I would much sooner have the char sio pao than some butter buns but this time around, I decided to order some and try…

Mitsu Dimsum 3

Gosh…the skin appeared so smooth like a baby’s complexion! But when I looked at the backside…ummm…I mean when I turned it the other way round…

Mitsu Dimsum 4

…I could see the melted butter oozing out of the bun. This was what it looked like inside with its very rich and creamy buttery filling…

Mitsu Dimsum 5

It was very very nice and I would definitely have it should I be going there again…though not so soon, I hope, as I have been eating there so very often already. Perhaps I should just drop by again when I have visitors in town but wait a minute! Come to think of it, so far I had only gone there when I had visitors around!…..Sigh! What to do! Not my fault that I have SO many relatives and friends! ROTFLMAO!!!

To all Muslim readers, Selamat Hari Raya Aidiladha and to the rest, enjoy your holiday! Back to work tomorrow! Hehehehehehe!!!

Do they know it’s Christmas…

KUALA LUMPUR: A massive landslide occurred in Bukit Antarabangsa at 3.30am Saturday. One resident is still missing while four people have been found dead, said Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar. However, police have not ruled out the possibility that passers-by may also be trapped.

Three of the dead have been identified as veterinarian, Dr. N. Yogeswari, 40, accountant Ng Yee Ping, 30 and Shaiful Khas Shaharuddin, 20. The body of Indonesian maid Surina was removed from the rubble at around 7.40pm Saturday.
(News extract from
http://thestar.com.my)

This news report brings to mind the Highland Towers tragedy in December 1993 and the article in SPEAKEASY in the New Straits Times entitled “Did they know it was Christmas?” which impressed me so much that I have kept it all these years and used it regularly in my English classes. The opening paragraphs go like this:
The young woman stood a little apart from the crowd wrapped in a cocoon of grief so great that it rebuked approach, lest something fragile might shatter. A contagion seemed to be spreading for a great many things already lay broken. The giant fist that had smacked the Highland Towers apartment blocked into a heap of rubble had shattered homes, dreams and lives.

Did they know it was Christmas?

It was the season of hope but after eight days, hope was ebbing entombed under the concrete and tangled steel that lay strewn across a small portion of rain swept hill that was once exclusive. It was the season of peace on earth, goodwill to all men…

…and he went on to slam the banks that were only concerned about the housing loans, and the insurance companies that were not sure if the fine print included landslides, the politicians – both government and opposition – that were more like empty drums that made the most sound, and the five-star hotels that competed with one another to offer food, clothes and lodging and yet they did not bat an eyelid when 300-odd residents of low-cost flats in Seremban had to be evacuated for fear of possible collapse.

But he wrote in praise of the many who thronged the blood bank of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital in response to an initial appeal; so many turned up that they had to be turned away, and hundreds of people volunteered help. Jayasankaran continued:
Perhaps it was, after all, the season of giving because the volunteers received little but heartbreak. And epiphany may have finally been a television reporter breaking down and crying when the first mangled remains of a child were being gently extricated.

He concluded his piece with this thought-provoking closing:
In that gesture of simple humanity lay hope. It had to be so. All those deaths would be meaningless if nothing were derived from this tragedy. Merry Christmas, everyone.

So, the question remains. Has anything been derived from the 1993 tragedy? The statistics below for this year alone may answer that question:

Dec 4 – 300 people were forced to evacuate two buildings when a landslide caused part of the retaining wall of a car park to collapse in Jalan Semantan, Kuala Lumpur.

Nov 30 – Two sisters were buried alive when a landslide hit their bungalow in Ulu Yam Perdana near Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor.

Oct 22 – Tonnes of earth came crashing down a hill onto the grounds of the Taman Terubong Jaya apartments in Butterworth where over 1,000 residents were staying.

Oct 19 – Four families evacuated from houses along the banks of Sungai Kayu Ara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, after landslide there.

Oct 17 – Two Indonesians were killed after they were buried alive by tonnes of sand in a landslide in Ganesan Quarry, Hulu Langat near Kajang, Selangor.

Oct 15 – A landslide after a downpour at Pinggir Bukit Segar, Cheras, Selangor caused a family to move out as they feared for their safety.

Sept 6 – Roads from the George Town to Teluk Bahang and Balik Pulau in Penang were cut off due to landslides and fallen trees.

Jan 17 – Two foreign workers were killed after they were buried in a landslide while working at a plantation in Cameron Highlands.
Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/12/6/nation/20081206131931&sec=nation