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Rabu, 29 Disember 2010

Kuala Pilah

The facade of an old shophouses
Kuala Pilah. I've been attach to this district along with over hundred participants in Field Research Module. It was a two weeks program where every participant is required to stay with a foster family. My home in Kuala Pilah is in Kampong Terusan, Juasseh. My foster parents are indeed nice towards me. However, until today I still didn't managed to visit them since I left which is about six months ago. Their house was not how the Kampong used to be before.

Kids playing badminton at the lawn
Paddy field at the end of the road
One of a kind retro clock at the surau
During my stay, I hardly see my Makcik buying vegetable. The vegetable practically are available around the house's compound. Being in Negeri Sembilan, your stay here would never be complete without savoring their famous dish, the "Masak Lemak Cili Api". From meat to poultry, duck egg and fish, unripe papaya as well as young plant shoots are cook using this recipe. Unbelievably, I literally eat "Masak Lemak Cili Api" every single day. I kind of like it. I'll post my version of recipe later. My favorites from Makcik are unripe papaya "Masak Lemak Cili Api" and fried catfish with sauté bird-eye chilies and shallots. It was a finger licking good meal. To this date, I can help myself craving for those dishes. I've tried cooking them by myself but the taste was nothing like Makcik does. Makcik loves cooking a lot. She made variety of Malay delicacies such as curry puff, Kueh Koci (steamed glutinous flour with sweet young coconut flesh fillings wrapped in banana leaf) and more that I couldn't remember.
Fresh "Ikan Haruan Masak Lemak Cili Api" with tapioca shoots

She also arranged a Dodol and Lemang cooking activities. Both sessions require many works yet we enjoyed both very much. Here are several photos of the mouth-watering dishes by Makcik.

Makcik dan Pakcik checking out the Lemang

Lemang served with "Rendang Ayam Kampung" (Feels like raya again with Nasi Impit)

Pakcik taking his turn stiring the Dodol mixture

Yummy chewy Dodol

Pakcik is Makcik's husband. He has a number of catfish ponds built next to my room. He also rears goats and chicken. Makcik will cook catfish or chicken every other day.

One of the catfish ponds

The chicks

A place the goats called home

Among other activities organized by us, one of the memorable is the "Gotong Royong Kacau Dodol". Dodol is a traditional delicacies made from a mixture of glutinous flour cook with coconut milk, cane sugar and palm sugar. This mixture took almost three two to three hours to thickened under medium heat. You'll have to stir it the whole hours thoroughly or the bottom will burn. That's why this kind of activities requires a large number of people. The unforgettable moment is when the hot sugary mixture landed on my hand. I cried like a baby. Not only because the unbearable pain but also because of smokes harassing my eyes.

One of many ways to deal with the smokes

Below are photos of bountiful greenery around Pakcik and Makcik's house.

Galagal jungle

3 acres rubber estate

Tapioca for shoots and the carbs

Ornamental banana


Yellow coconut

Pink flowers

Green bird-eye chilies (a must in every Minangkabau's house)

Ripening banana

Pandanus variety

Isnin, 27 Disember 2010

Our Splashy Weekend

My husband’s office organized a retreat last weekend at Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC), Pahang. I took a leave last Friday. We left our house early that Friday morning and headed my husband’s office as the meeting point. After finalizing logistic matters, we convoyed all the way to BGCR. The journey took almost three hours. On our way to BGRC,

Khamis, 23 Disember 2010

As the Sun Sets.

Yesterday was another rainy day. It was already raining when my husband picked me up from the office. It stopped a few minutes after arriving home. My home to my office is just a league away. On the way to my office, we have to send our boy to his nursery and fetch him right before heading home. Despite of the rain, my husband still went to his football match. He played for our association, the PPTD.
They had a friendly match yesterday. I didn't know the scores. They are having another one today. Though it was raining today, I still had to give my potted plant a quick shower. They are semi shaded yet probably the wind isn't strong enough for the rain to cover that area. Some of them wilted yesterday. I didn't water them these few days assuming that I don't have to due to the rain. However, I was wrong. The soil was dry when I touched them yesterday. Therefore, I decided to water the potted plant even when it's raining but not as regular as during dry season.
I snapped a few photos yesterday. Last week on Thursday, I did some soil improvement works and sowed watermelon. Yesterday, the young plants are looking great.


Silky leaves sweetcorn

Long Beans

Sweet Ms. Pumpkin

Mr. Kailan

Ms. Cabbage
Watermelon Duo
Ms. Roselle
Brocoli Duo
By the way, I sowed baby carrot, brinjal, coriander and Pak Choy (also known as bok Choy or Peking cabbage) last two weeks. I saw some brinjal and coriander seedlings poking through yesterday. They were too small to snap. Perhaps, later I'll check on them.
The young baby carrots are striving.

The young baby carrots
The new addition of the family is the red onions. I planted them for the leaves and hoping for the seed.

Four red onions
And the sun sets.

Sunset in Putrajaya

Rabu, 22 Disember 2010

Popping Corn

I made popcorn yesterday. One day I told my husband that I want to make popcorn. He didn't believe that I have the ability to make popcorn not knowing that I once sold my homemade popcorn when I was a small girl. I even demonstrated to my fellow girlfriends on how to make popcorn. Despite his cynical remarks, I optimistically bought the ingredients. Making popcorn may sound easy to westerners. 

Nevertheless, here in my place, popcorn is something you can only buy at the cinema's kiosk or a carnival. It rarely crosses their mind that you can even make popcorn in just few simple steps. I once brought some to my office and this is what my colleague said. "You didn't make this. I know. You bought some from the supermarket and later pour them to your container. Later, claiming that they are yours". My friend, I take that as a compliment. Thank you.

Anyway, this is how to make popcorn.
The ingredients: Two (2) tbsp of margarine. – I prefer to use margarine instead of butter. ¼ cup of dried corn kernels. Two (2) tbsp of castor sugar. One (1) tsp of honey – optional. A drop of food coloring – optional. One (1) tbsp of hot water
The tools: Spatula and cookware with lid
Method: Melt one (1) tbsp of margarine and put in the popcorn. Once the first popcorn popped, put on the lid. Transfer the popped popcorn into a bowl. Melt the rest of margarine and pour in the castor sugar, honey, hot water and food coloring. Whisk briskly until the entire ingredient thickened. Pour in the popcorn and covers them with the sugar glaze. Rest to cool before storing in dry container.
That's all and perfect companion for a family movie night.

Jumaat, 17 Disember 2010

The Plates Story

This is a story about the ceramic plates that are not mine. My father inherited the ceramic plates as well as a number of copper wares. They belong to my late grandmother. She died at our house. I was 12 then. I remember vividly what happened on that evening.
I couldn’t recall my first memory with her. As far as I remember, she lives in a wooden Kampong house. The house is quite dark in the interior due to tall trees shading the house. It was a breezy house day and night. One of the reasons is due to the fact that Kampong house built on stilt. Furthermore, the window’s opening has the same high with an adult. So, a Kampong house ventilated naturally. The bathroom is a three meters by three meters cubicle with zinc wall and sky as the roof. Well supplies water and the water are so chilly that you’ll literally shiver as the water touch your skin. My father later builds a proper bathroom complete with water supplies. He installed a water pump, which pumped water from the well and directed to the bathroom.
My first cousin, De is her favorite. De spends her whole childhood living with our grandmother. After finishing school, she stayed with us to help my mother taking care of us while she’s away for work. There were three of us at that time. We’ll visit our grandmother practically every school holiday. Bus was our ride then. We ought not to pay the ticket since the boss is the brother of my grandmother. I love being at her place. Calm is what I feel. My brother was not there to scream, kick, pull my hair and other stuff that your siblings would do. We were kids then. De later left us when she decided to be on her own and later she married.
At the house lawn, there was a white water apple tree or for the local, it known as “Jambu Air Putih”. My father used to put together a swing hanging from the tree branch. We love the swing. He made one to at our house. Our previous house has a “Rambutan” tree. He also made one under my grandmother house since the house is two meters above the ground level.
As we grew up, she gets older and older. From time to time, she’ll visits us and brings some treats (candy and junk food) for us. As other kids would do, we’ll take whatever people gave us. However, my father didn’t support at all. Candy is bad for your teeth and junk food is bad for you brain. Either way both bring no good for you. That is what I instill in my son’s upbringing. So far, my son didn’t know that candy and chips are edible.
A few years before she died, my father brought her to our house and stayed with us. Being the youngest son, my father is dear to her heart. As other sons and daughter would do, he duly executed his obligation as son. His mother is everything for him. His father died when she was pregnant with him.
When we moved in to our new house, she followed us. Nevertheless, she was there for only five months. De came to our house the day she died. She came with her two kids and her husband by motorbike. Back then, only the rich has cell phone and not all houses installed with fixed line phone. Therefore, it is not easy to contact someone who lived quite far from us. We didn’t call her to come but she suddenly wanted to come to visit our grandmother. Later that night, our grandmother died on the lap of her favorite grandchild. I remember that night was a gloomy night and not a sound heard. Even my little brothers and sister slept early that night.
That was 15 years ago. My mother didn’t know what she supposed to with the plates. Hence, I took them home and placed them on the bookcase. Looking at them bring back the memories. There are five plates. Each has the same motives drawn on it yet there are still uniqueness posses by each of them.
Before, they belong to the kitchen as a serving dish. Now, they are the antiques of my home.

Khamis, 16 Disember 2010

The Beginning of a New Life

I left office quite early yesterday. Yet, right after my shift ends. My husband had to rush for his football match later that evening. I was lucky that the rain had stop. It was raining that noon so I'm not going to gives my plants a shower. The day is still bright so I decided to snap some pictures of my little garden. This month is indeed an exciting month for me. I started my garden in November and it's like a beginning of a new life (or lives I would say for my seedlings). On the eight of December, a day after our vacation in Langkawi ends, I sowed some Roselle and sweet pumpkin. Here are a few pictures of my striving seedlings.

This is one of my Roselle seedlings. I sowed six seeds and five days later, three germinated. However, one wilted and died. I sowed another seed last Sunday but none appeared yesterday.

This is my eight days old sweet pumpkin seedling. It sits on the same patch where I sowed the watermelon. However, until last Sunday, there's no sign of life exist. Therefore, I propagate another watermelon seeds on the patch. Until yesterday, no new seedling comes into sight.
Sweet pumpkin

These are the water spinach as known as kangkung. I decided to plant for some more as I don't feel that the first batch are enough to feed us all. Here's my latest batch kangkung. Only one managed to come out of the soggy soil yesterday. Maybe the rest are still trying to come out of the seed shell.
Kangkung 1

Kangkung 2

Here are my cucumber and long bean seedlings. They have been on the same patch since the day I transplanted them last week. They are roughly two weeks old. I have another two seedlings as backup in the seeding pot.

Long bean
These are a month old broccoli. I disseminated a few seeds and transplanted two of the seedlings into a larger pot. I'm not sure whether these young plants are heat-resistant or not since, they grew faster in shady area. Yet the cabbages that are in the same family, which I planted on the veggie patch, seem to grow somewhat slow. Perhaps the soil isn't fertile enough. I'll put some organic fertilizer later.
This is "Pokok Setawar" or Air plant. We brought home some of the plants from my in-laws house. After a few months, they were already in a terrible shape. I pulled off some matured leaves and laid them on the soil. While the origin plants are dying, the leaves underneath which I laid before started to produce offspring. I plan to keep this plant for its medicinal properties. The leaf of this plant is watery. For that reason, we'll lay the leaves at my son's backside whenever his body temperature rises. After a while, you will find the reading has decreased and the leaves drooped.
These beautiful flowers brighten up my day and my handsome son too.


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