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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Apple & Orange

Since our last entry, we've had two dinner dates. Last Sunday we had a noodles dinner at Ian and Wai Mun's place in N-Park. Simple and delicious! We were also entertained by Apple and Orange, their hamster couple, who are waiting to be parents.

[Fruit vs vegetable: Apple eating carrot]

[Night view from Ian and Wai Mun's balcony showing the Sungai Nibong flyover]

On Tuesday, Mrs Ang cooked dinner for us and Eric and Yu Kang at her place near Fettes Park. We had lotus root soup, stewed pork, curry chicken, assam prawns and stir-fried cauliflower *yum, yum* We bought a Black Forest cake for dessert, but it ended up as supper instead! I must say that I was not accustomed to the sourish taste of the fruit in the cake - like some fermentation going/went on. It must be part of the ingredients of the cake since there were no reports of any casualty.

[Dinner at Mrs Ang's]

Speaking of fermentation, our little brewing project is moving along well. More mouldy friends around and the skin of the apple has changed to a dark brown. Doesn't seem to have any change in the amount of liquid, though. Hope we'll have enough of the good stuff at the end!

Well, this coming weekend is the 55th Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend in Penang. Tonight we went to help to set up...some of our friends are also attending the weekend... ;-)

We'll close tonight with a photo of green pea cookies...

[Christmas colours in February]

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Wait Begins (Part 2)

Yesterday (Saturday) night saw us having dinner at the hawker stalls near the jetty (Pengkalan Weld). We parked our car along Gat Lebuh Armenian and walked back out to the main road. The stalls here, between the Shell petrol station and Kedai Kopi Lee Hoe, serve good Ou Mee (Oyster Noodles) and Indian Fried Noodles. Alas, the Ou Mee stall was closed (we later found out that the owner works five-day weeks) and the Indian Fried Noodle seller had just used up the last of his ingredients :o( *fuming and disappointed*

However, we found out that, at the Wan Tan Mee stall, you could order Hor Fun (broad rice noodles) in Wan Tan Mee style... and it was good :o). Imagine eating Hor Fun swimming in lard oil and soy sauce. *mmm...* We also had Char Koay Teow (quite good), and some satay (now this was rather disappointing although it was quite cheap: 30 sen per stick).

[Weld Quay Hor Fun Wan Tan Mee and Char Koay Teow]

[Weld Quay stalls among others]

As promised, here's a pictorial update of our brewing project... Photo shows our brewing 'apparatus' tucked away in a quiet little corner on our kitchen counter. We dared not move it elsewhere to take a better photo so as not to disturb our little yeasty friends doing their (to be) much appreciated job. What can be seen? Brownish apple slices, some liquid (this is the 'good stuff' we believe), and mould (white and black spots, and grey hairy stuff). How does it smell? Reeking of alcohol already.

[Mutiara's Brew: Work in progress... after 1 week]

Friday, February 18, 2005

Curded Luxury

The most delightful things in life can often be found in the simplest of things. Likewise, the most delicious foods are often the most humble and easiest to prepare.

Tonight for dinner, we had chilled soft bean curd (sui tau fu) eaten with fried garlic and soy sauce (kicap). How does it taste? Heavenly.

[Heaven in a spoon]

A brief non-pictorial update on our brewing project... the apples are more wrinkled now and are turning brown. Mould have also started to appear... *yay!* We plan to take a photo of it weekly. So, do stay tuned :o).

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Wait Begins (Part 1)

Today is back to work for the both of us. Bart made a day-trip to KL. So it's a long day for him.

Yesterday was Valentine's day. How did we celebrate? Well, we're not into commercial celebrations - we don't believe in paying exorbitant prices! We had a lovely dinner at Three N Ikan Bakar, near the Gelugor power station. The two of us whacked some sting ray, squids, cockles and stir-fried kailan. Then we headed home to get ready to watch our favourite programme Navy NCIS. But alas... it was not to be... our show had to make way for a repeat of the morning's Grammy Awards...*sob, sob* :-(

[Our rustic Valentine's Day dinner]

Let me now rewind the day a little bit. In the afternoon, we embarked on a little brewing project. We decided to make apple cider. So, we're now waiting for our apple cider to mature. The whole process should take about a month. But even last night, we could already see some 'progress' - the apples had shrunken. And today, there's already some liquid visible. Hmmm... *nod of approval* Will keep you posted on the progress...

[Mutiara's Brew: The beginning...]

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Never Leave Home Without It

We were at church for the 10am mass presided by a visiting priest, Fr. Joe Stephen from the Redemptorist community in Ipoh. He was in Penang to promote his book: Parishes in Post-Modernism. After mass, Angie and I stayed back for the cathedral choir practice to prepare for Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday.

After choir practice, we gave John a lift home after the customary stop-over to buy provisions and nasi kandar. John lives at the Rifle Range flats in Ayer Itam. Today, he led me to his unit through the front door which faces inside the common corridor of his block. As we walked into the common corridor area, we had to pass by the rubbish collection area. The smell was terrible *rotting rubbish pong*. Eewwww! (Normally, we enter by the back entrance which was better because it faces outside his block).

We shall leave you with this photo of a few kids swimming in our apartment swimming pool. They are obviously playing it safe because they can make a quick call in case of an emergency. Also, if they are hungry, they can call for a pizza.

[The handphone: Never leave home without it!]

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Rooster Rules! (Part 3: CNY Days 2 & 3)

[Bart writes]
The morning of the 2nd day of CNY saw us doing our rounds to my uncles' (dad's elder brothers) and my grandmother's (mom's mother) houses with more ang pow-giving. We also made a pit stop to dad's sister's place again to pick up a precious item... homemade rice wine *hic, hic*

Day 2 of CNY's lunch menu: 1. pak zham kai (boiled chicken), 2. stir-fried chinese cabbage with bean curd sheets (fu chuk) and prosperity noodle (fatt choy), 3. roast duck with plum sauce, 4. fish float (yu piu) soup with mushrooms, and 5. duck doggie-style, i.e. cooked in a style normally used to cook dog meat.

[Mom chopping roast duck: a lot of hard work...]

[CNY Day 2 Lunch: The Rooster (or its kin) met its match... sudah kasi chan mah...]

[Duck Doggie-style: I repeat, i.e. cooked in a style normally used to cook dog meat]

[Fish float soup with mushrooms: Another chinese delicacy]

[Angie writes]
After lunch we left in sweltering heat for Butterworth. Don't know why it always feels hotter during CNY.

We arrived in time for tea (with no reports of casualty on the way into the house; the terrorist chicken (as my sister calls Chini) was closely watched). After tea, we visited Tricia (we've been friends since 5!). Then it was back home for dinner.

Menu: 1. braised pork leg, 2. salted-vege with duck soup, 3. prawns, 4. stir-fried beansprouts, 5. mixed veg with bamboo shoots, 6. joo hoo char, and 7. claypot low shee fun (sprinkled with lard chips *yum, yum*).

[CNY Day 2 Dinner]

[Joo Hoo Char: a must-have dish for CNY]

[Salted veg with duck soup: another must-have dish for CNY]

[Braised pork leg: Papa's speciality]

Day 3 of CNY was a day of fast and abstinence (replacement for Ash Wednesday which fell on the first day of CNY). Visiting was the order of the day - first to see my grandaunts (mummy's aunts), then grandparents (mum's side), followed by my aunts (papa's sisters). In the evening, we visited Chu Len Chee2 before going for Way of the Cross and Mass. After Mass, we visited another aunt (also papa's sis, and my godmother).

And that ends The Rooster Rules!

The Rooster Rules! (Part 2: Happy Birthday, Mommy)

On Chinese New Year's day, we attended mass at St. Joseph's Church in Batu Gajah. Among other things, Fr. Robin Andrews said that the cock's comb is analoguous to the crown put on Jesus' head during His passion. Also, the cock shows us an example of being faithful by never failing to crow every morning.

This CNY's day is also my mom's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! So, upon returning home from mass, we had a simple birthday ceremony. She is seen here cutting a fruit cake given by Chui Ying's godparents.

[Birthday Mommy: I wonder if there's brandy in this fruitcake... *hic, hic*]

For lunch, it was vegetarian fare. Menu: 1. ham choy (salted vege) + beansprouts, 2. vege duck + vege fishcake, 3. beancurd puff (tiu foo pok), 4. vege chicken + moi choy (preserved vege), and 5. sweet and sour vege fish.

[CNY Vegetarian Lunch: Brings out the animal in us... *yum, yum*]

[Vegetarian Chicken with Moi Choy: Giving the Rooster a chance... for now]

My mom is a fan of the Menglembu CNY's day market. So, after lunch, off we went... roast pork hunting. There were quite a number of roast meat stalls there (roast chicken and duck included) trying to make a last ditched attempt to make the sale of the year. My mom shuttled from stall to stall checking to see if the meat was 'nice', i.e. the pork skin not detatched from the meat. Before making her final decision, a stall owner offered her a piece to sample... *crunch, crunch* Okay... QC passed.

[My Delightfully Delirious Mom: Such are the simple pleasures of the humble roast pork]

[Malaysian astronauts need to catch up: The Pin Sum Restaurant in Menglembu has already been sending countless ducks to the moon]

This was our menu for CNY dinner: 1. steamed fish in sweet, sour and spicy sauce, 2. waxed meat and sausages, 3. stir-fired long beans and brinjal, and 4. QC-passed roast pork.

[Chicken-free dinner: Giving the Rooster a chance... again]

After dinner, we went for CNY visiting to my aunty's (dad's elder sister) place. She had quite a big bunch of grandchildren. So, Niq and I had our first taste of parting with so many ang pows (red packets) at one go :o).

Are cicadas prominent figures during CNY? We had a green-coloured cicada drop by the house. We'll leave you with a portrait of our winged-visitor. Stay tuned for The Rooster Rules! (Part 3).

[Chinese New Year Cicada]

The Rooster Rules! (Part 1: The Eve)

With all the hustle and bustle surrounding the Chinese New Year preparations, we have forgotten to note that Angie's parents have a number of ayams serama roaming around their house compound. The patriach of the lot is Chini the Cock and he's one notorious avian menace. Better than some guard dog, he attacks even when not provoked. Here, he is shown being pampered by Angie's papa.

[Chini Cock I: The Avian Manace]

Okay, Angie and I will try to give an overview of our CNY activities starting from CNY's eve. On arrival back in Menglembu on 8 Feb 2005, we were introduced to Goldie, our new family dog.


On the night of CNY's eve, we had a sumptious steamboat dinner and I have proof that I am not lying about it being sumptious.

[Angie, Chui Ying and my dad waiting eagerly for the boat to steam *stomach rumble*]

[Exhibit 1: A pregnant male's belly]

We forgot to mention that Angie also fell sick just before the holidays. So, we're both still nursing a cough. *cough, cough*

Stay tuned for The Rooster Rules! (Part 2) :o).

Monday, February 07, 2005

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. We would like to wish you a Happy, Prosperous and Blessed Chinese New Year.

[May every year be filled with richness in abundance!]

Yesterday, Angie and I tried to get into the Chinese New Year mood. What did we do? We baked peanut cookies:o) Took us nearly 4 hours to bake about 250 of those little mounds. This was our first attempt at peanut cookies. The verdict? It was not too bad lah... a little bit on the crunchy side.

[Firstly, go to the beach and get 500gm of sand. Mix in sugar...]

[Me Cookie Monster love cookies... Arrhmh! Armhhmhhmm! *munch, munch*]

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Memories in Black and White

I asked Angie a question today: "Angie... do you think you are pretty?". Her reaction was most amusing. For a split second, she had a speechless 'who-am-I-to-judge-my-own-beauty'-look. Then, very suddenly, her face lit up and she had a cheeky look. She declared, "Yes!", triumphantly. All these happened in perhaps less than a second. What went on in her head is anyone's guess. We had a good laugh :o).

Frs. Francis Anthony and Henry Rajoo said their inaugural Sunday mass as parish priest and assistant parish priest respectively of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. Angie and I were on cantor and organist duty. Fr. Francis preached about living out the values of the Lord's Prayer.

I would like to share a photo of Angie and I taken about 8 years ago at Bakti canteen in USM by Rebecca Loke. Rebecca had an SLR camera with just a few shots left on the roll of film and wanted to finish them off. Angie was her usual natural, casual, calm-and-composed and relaxed self while I was my usual cautious (note the crossed fingers), shirt-wearing, pens-in-pocket, nerdy self. I believe Rebecca developed the photos by herself as she was a journalism student at that time. And she developed it in black and white (it is a bit sepia now) which was excellent for the mood... looks so... so... romantic... *sigh* If I recall correctly, at that time, Angie and I were 'just friends' :o).

[Angie: "Bart, put your hands down!"... Bart: "I'm trying to hide your lipstick mark on my collar lah!"]

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Kicked by Kahlua

Today we got our Chinese New Year decoration from the god of prosperity (Choy San) at Tesco, together with a fruit toffee each so that the year of the rooster will be a sweet one for us.

[Our curious companions trying to decipher those chinese characters...]

We were at Tesco to get our ingredients to make pizza - our second baking project this week. It's a pastry-based pizza topped with bloody tomato puree, delicious tuna, mouth-watering sausage chunks, juicy bananas, tangy onions, healthy mixed vegetables, and sinful cheese. This, we brought to a pot luck Catholic Engaged Encounter meeting cum dinner. After the meeting, we chatted over coffee laced with kahlua :-)

[Angie trying to cover up the murder]

[Stand aside, Pizza Hut... here comes Angie's Gazebo]

Did Bart mention that we didn't buy anything for Chinese New Year? Hmmm...we forgot about the beer we bought. This year we decided to go international. We've got brew from Germany (Holsten), Holland (Bavaria), and Belgium (Martens Pils). And they're all under RM3...three cheers for the EU! :-) The miser couple takes a bow. *applause, applause*

[Bottoms up! Glug, glug, glug...]


Friday, February 04, 2005

The Bug Bites

I am not feeling well... sore throat, occasional cough with green phlegm, loss of voice, body ache and a general lousy feeling. If it was a viral infection, I'd rather not visit the doctor. A quick check on the net indicated that yellow or green phlegm indicate a bacterial infection. So, off I went to the clinic and got my supply of bacteria-zapping drugs...

[Die! Bacteria... Die!!]

Yesterday, I made a last ditched attempt to bake bread the plain way. This time I waited patiently for another 30 mins after separating the dough into bun-sized portions. And, voila! Improved-textured bread! A little patience goes a long way. Next is to try 5xmom's bread-baking tip.

[Sesame Bread: Open.... mouth! Chew, chew... say, "Mmmm"...]

Yesterday also, Angie orchestrated yet another saliva-secreting dinner: pan-grilled chicken fillet with stir-fried lotus root slices and mashed potatoes. Angie has an interesting way of preparing mashed potatoes... ask her but she won't tell you :o)

[East Meets West Pan-grilled Chicken garnished with fried onion]

The Chinese New Year is fast approaching. Are Angie and I ready? No. We have not bought anything - not even a single crumb of a cookie, a bak kua or waxed duck. We're resisting the temptation to spend unnecessarily... crazy as we are, we are darn good at being misers.

Did I say I was sick? Well, here goes... *cough, cough, groan, groan, wheeze, wheeze* :o(

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Lost and Found

Today I received an sms from a number which wasn't familiar to me. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be an old friend. We haven't been in touch for 10 years. 10 years!

Time flies - that's what we say. But when it comes to not being in contact with someone...10 years seem like a million. So many things have happened, so many things to catch up on... Jammie and I spoke for more than an hour over the phone! What really moved me was the effort she took to locate my family. It wasn't an easy task, but find us she did!

Keeping in touch with others really requires time and effort. After a while, many of us just lose momentum and sadly, our good friends as well. Sometimes we bump into old friends but it isn't like it used to be. We have drifted apart - each to his/her own path - and it becomes a hi-and-bye meeting. Sometimes, however, we are lucky to have friends whom we may not keep in contact with regularly, but when we meet (or do get in touch somehow), it's like we've never really been apart - we chat and chat easily like old times. And to me, this is the really wonderful thing about a friendship...

Lunch today was with friends (also colleagues) at the Temple of Fine Arts. They serve delicious vegetarian food in buffet style. The mango lassi is heavenly. Price? By donation. Try it. It's at Babington Avenue. It has a very pleasant atmosphere for dining. Makes you feel relaxed.

Overall a good day today... lots of laughter...great for the spirit! :-)