Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh Gross!!

Was entering the car park lift this morning when I bumped into the cleaner going on his rounds emptying the dustbins. They basically go from floor to floor carrying this big garbage bag and empty the garbage bins into the bag. Well... as I walked into the lift, he entered before me and was so nice to press ground floor for me as well.

Thennnnnnnnn I saw the glove he was wearing... which of course was the one he was using to empty the bins... And by emptying, I don't mean overturning the bin into the bag.... No No No.. They normally pick up the garbage from the bin with the gloved hand and stuff the junk into the black 'Santa' bag they carry... And there was this brownish stain on the glove.

And it was this same gloved hand that he used to press those little buttons on the control panel... So what's the lesson here? Ladies & Gentlemen... Wash your hands!! :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Steamed Pork Ribs With Soybean Sauce

This was really fast and easy to do. Very little mess as well. I bought a book a few weeks back from a Popular Book Sale at the Curve titled 'Fun With Pork'. I love pork. There's no other meat as good and versatile as pork. Think of roast pork (siu yok), BBQ pork (char siu), bacon, ham, pork knuckles... Need I say more?

I've never actually tried cooking ribs before. The thought of BBQ Pork Ribs has crossed my mind but never really got down to trying it so I was going through this book when I came across a recipe that looked pretty easy. Tried it out and it tasted a little bit like the ones that you get from dim sum stalls.

Group 1 - The Pork
200g Pork Ribs
10g Ginger
6 Cloves Garlic
1 Stalk Spring Onion
2 tbsp Soybean Sauce
1 tbsp Red Chilli (Diced)
2 tbsp Celery (Diced)

Group 2 - The Marinade
3 tbsp Plum Sauce
2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
2 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Corn Flour

Rinse pork ribs, cut into pieces. Mix with marinade and set a side for 1 hour. Peel ginger and garlic, chop and mash. Place all ingredients into steaming tray and steam for 20 minutes over high heat. Serve. Now if that's not fast and easy, I don't know what is...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grilled Chicken With Curried Celery & Mushroom Sauce

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Was playing badminton while at the same time trying to figure out what to eat for dinner and had a sudden urge to cook up a surprise for Bao Yi. Some time back I bought some meatballs and she didn't like them so I buried them in a curry gravy which she said made the meatballs palatable. Well... not just palatable... she said they tasted great... :-) I then experimented further... Bao Yi (like a few other people I know) didn't like celery. Well, she would eat them but she doesn't like them.

Thing is, I don't have any like or dislike for celery but it's basically a base ingredient for a lot of sauce/ stock base due to its fragrance so I do use them. Anyway, I chopped the celery finely and threw them with some garlic & shallots then sautéd them till they were soft then threw in the same meatballs, some seasoning and again the curry powder. Voilà, she was eating the celery like they were chocolate… Ha Ha.. ok… ok… that’s an exaggeration but anyway, was thinking of a curry gravy of some sort with grilled chicken so dropped by Cold Storage on my way back so here goes…

Group 1 – The Meat
2 Chicken Breasts
Cajun Seasoning
Garlic Salt
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Fresh Thyme
5 Spice Powder
Port Wine/ Red Wine (To deglaze the grill)
Group 2 – The Sauce
1 tsp Curry Powder
Shitake Mushrooms (Sliced)
Shallots (Chopped Fine)
1 Garlic (Chopped Fine)
2 Celery Stalks (Use as much of the stems with leaves)
Low Fat Milk
Group 3 – Potatoes
2 Potatoes
Dried Rosemary
Bolognaise Seasoning

Alright, firstly wash the potatoes then cut them into small little cubes. This is to help them cook faster. You want them bigger, that’s fine. These potatoes will eventually be stirred into the sauce but you can either fry them or steam them first… The latter would probably be healthier. The seasoning’s there because I was watching Chef at Home and he actually dumped some herbs into the water used for steaming the potatoes so I tried that as well… Damn fragrant the air after that… Didn’t do much for the potatoes though… Maybe all buried within the curry gravy as well. Anyway, just chuck all the dried herbs into the water and let them boil. I actually steam the potatoes so the nutrients don’t get leached out into the water (which happens when you boil the potatoes).

While the potatoes are steaming, season the chicken breasts. Where the chicken’s concerned, you want to leave the skin on cos’ that’s the best part. (The heck with cholesterol) but remove as much of the fat as possible then pat dry. Sprinkle some olive oil and basically chuck all the seasoning, herbs & spices in and rub well. Chuck the thyme under the skin and rub the spices underneath that as well. When the remaining fat renders on the grill it’s going to absorb the flavours.

The potatoes should be done by now so take them out and brown them in the oven with some olive oil while you heat up the grill. I use a grilling pan instead of an actual grill.

Once the meat is done, scoop them out then deglaze the grilling pan with some Port wine. I love this cos’ it actually absorbs the flavour seared onto the grill into the wine so the flavour doesn’t go to waste. Add some water then let it reduce for about 3 mins.

In the meantime, sauté the shallots & garlic till soft then chuck in the celery. Sauté for about 3 mins then pour in the reduced meat liquid then let it simmer for about 3 mins then chuck in the mushrooms. Mix well then chuck in the potatoes and again, mix well. Sprinkle some black pepper, Cajun seasoning and curry powder. Mix well then pour in the low fat milk (this is a substitute for coconut milk/ cream) then chuck in the potatoes. You can add some fish sauce/ salt to your taste.

You’re done. It looks like a long process but all it took me was about 30 – 45 mins and it didn’t really create a big mess. The cost for two persons? Only about RM 30 and I have lots of celery to spare. You can actually add more milk so you get more gravy in which case you need more curry powder as well and trust me… Get some garlic toast and dip ‘em in. Have fun.

Mid Valley Photo Shoot

My first model shoot with the Mid Valley Centre Court decor as a backdrop. Ha! Ha! Yeah I know... Perasan... It was actually a fashion show by E'Tho. Well, enjoy the pics...

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Balik Kampung Theme
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Raya Spread
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And last but not least, my bestest, favouritest model... :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thought Bubbles Cyberspotted

Keh Keh... Well.. technically, I am piggy-backing off the Turtle Research & Rehabilitation Group (TRRG) Web Site but oh well, it's still my few lines of fame :-) Certainly brings back early memories when I wrote in to the Star to write about the horrible conditions of the enclosures & cages in the Taiping Zoo. That's as far as I ventured into activism. Heh Heh...

I was in Form 4 (that would be back in 1990) and I actually written the letter and got all my classmates and friends to sign the letter. I actually signed the letter as A.L.F. which is supposed to be the acronym for Animal Liberation Front... Well.. that and ALF was one of my favourite comedies at the time. If you haven't watched it, it's about this cuddly Alien that crashes into Earth and loves eating cats... Yumm Yumm... An alien after my own heart!!

I do not know if that reached the intended audience but since then conditions in the Taiping Zoo has improved exponentially and it now has a night safari as well. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I were to say that it is better than Zoo Negara but then again, that's my opinion... So regardless if it had any impact, I guess I will just continue believing I have made a difference... :-) That and the hundreds of turtle hatchlings that have crawled to sea... Hope I have made up enough karma points to wipe out my sins... :-D

Monday, September 15, 2008

New DELL Battery

Yeah... As good as new... After close to 1 year of utilising my Dell Inspiron 1520 the battery was starting to behave like a handphone battery. Although it charges fully, it's noticeable that the charge doesn't last much longer than 1 hour. All the same, didn't pay much attention until I started getting the following message.

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Anyway, a quick call to Dell Tech Support by my colleague, gave them the Service Tag and less than 24 hours later, I got the following...
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A spanking new battery... I've told many people before that Dell Support is one of the best... Well, I'm now stating that publicly & officially... Hmm, maybe they'll stumble into this post and offer me a free Dell notebook. :-) But seriously, this is the second time I've called Dell for assistance and both times, they were friendly and as helpful as ever. My cousin has done the same as well. So has my colleague. With the standard 1 year warranty support package that comes bundled in, there are no questions asked, we just report and before you know it, they're at your doorstep. So next time you want to get a notebook or replace your present one, think Dell... It's affordable, support's great. You won't regret it. And No! I'm not getting paid for this...

Selamat Hari Malaysia 2008

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45 years ago on this day, 16 September 1963, Malaya, North Borneo, Sabah & Sarawak joined hands and formed Malaysia. Authorities has earlier planned for the formation of Malaysia on June 1, 1963 but it was later postponed to August 31, 1963 to coincide with the 6th Hari Merdeka but due to objections from Indonesia & Philippines with the formation of Malaysia, it was eventually delayed to September 16 of the same year.

Today, 45 years later it is my hope that we Malaysians irrespective of race, religion and background will be celebrating Hari Malaysia, hand in hand for many more centuries to come.

[History lesson courtesy of Wikipedia]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

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September 16, 2008. Malaysian D-Day?

Never once could I have imagined how interesting Malaysian Politics would one day become . To be frank, I enjoyed the US Elections more which is why prior to the March 2008 General Elections, I was actually following more of the US elections. Over there, democracy is at least like a democracy. You have political parties voting in their leaders and this is in turn based on the population voting in the candidate they trust most.

Even on election day itself, I wanted to avoid the rush so quickly went, had lunch and was back on CNN following the news of the US elections... :-) So much for patriotism... Little did I know the political tsunami that would arrive on our shores later that evening.

As we anticipate September 16 and our American friends await their presidential elections, one can draw similarities in both countries. The underlying hope that everyone has that it will be a better 4 - 5 years ahead. Where Malaysians are concerned, the hope that true democracy is in store and as well, a more transparent and democratic government will replace the cronyism & corruption of the past, propelling us forward to Vision 2020. In the US, the hope that democracy will shine through for all, the hope that Obama will be finally be the first African-American US President. Obama and our very own Pakatan Rakyat has one similarity... in that they in their own ways have gotten the younger generation enthusiastic and interested in shaping the nation's future and it is this single fact that has gotten me rooting for them.

My boss was asking me sometime back why I wanted so much for Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) to be the Prime Minister. My answer was simple... He gave me hope. The fact is, the recent general elections (GE) gave us one very important thing... Hope! First of all, I know DSAI is no saint but then again who in politics are? The fact is, it can't be any worse than it already is so why not give them a chance to prove themselves. The alternative can't exactly be that rosy. Prior to the GE most of us was content to just vote the opposition with the rationale of having check and balance (of course the ones we vote are capable ones of course... we don't pakai hantam (simply whack)) just so we can have representation in the parliament... Nobody had any notion that things were really gonna change. This pretty much accounts for the surprise when results of the GE trickled out.

All the same, it is still uncertain as to how things will pan out over the next few weeks but I'm thankful that since the elections, everybody has been pretty much been well behaved. This again I feel is one of the benefit that Pakatan Rakyat has given us a preview of. A country which is multi-racial in essence and not just in name. Prior to the GE, most of us would be cautious when we voice dissent and our dissatisfaction with the powers that be for fear of legal retribution and also ever so often has the racial card been played for the sole purpose of keeping a leash on the minority. This is sadly still the case most recently.

In the past, DAP & PAS as opposition parties have pretty much had a tough battle fighting the coalition government as both were seen as the extreme end on either side. It's not very far-fetched to say that PKR has become the glue that solidifies this partnership providing an avenue for the moderate Malays. And for an ethnic Chinese, it is really refreshing for me to hear a Malay leader preaching Muhibbah in the truest sense of the word preaching equality and fairness for all instead of just cautioning the ethnic minorities not to stir up unrest by questioning the rights of the majority. This in a great part has helped diffuse the tension that may have been a result of fear on both sides of the divide. It is my hope that this will continue to give us what can be truly described as a Malaysian Malaysia.

I am sure I speak for all my friends, Malays, Indians, Sikhs, Punjabis and Chinese when I say that there is no one questioning each other's rights. All everyone wants is a peaceful environment to raise a family and one where everyone is treated equally. After all, when we go to another country for business, study or to migrate, wouldn't we want to be treated on equal footing?

As it is, half of the country is governed by Pakatan Rakyat (PR). It is every moderate, right thinking Malaysian's hope that this new coalition will learn from history and avoid the temptation that is at present bringing down the Barisan coalition. PR has been given a very valuable opportunity to prove itself to Malaysians everywhere that it can do what BN has failed to do so it is now up to the elected leaders of the PR coalition to show us what they can do and show us they deserve another term.


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A show worth watching if you like historically based epics. Think Braveheart, 300, Kingdom of Heaven and the like. Nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar for 2008, it's in Mongolian but the subtitles is pretty good. Mongol is a movie about the rise of Genghis Khan. The cinematography & acting was great. Some of the scenes kinda reminded me of 300 but overall, the movie stood out on its own.

Main complaint would have been that the entire story kinda felt compressed. I guess there was no way that the director could have squeezed the whole story of Genghis Khan's life into 2 hours and it kinda' focused on the main highlights of his life but probably could've stretched it a little bit more.

Considering whatever little I remembered from my primary school history which portrayed Genghis Khan as a barbarian the movie humanised him somewhat. The movie is factually thin and though the characters are accurate and most of the key characters in Genghis Khan's life are in the movie it's all very briefly covered and on occasions you get the feeling that the movie kinda skips...

Anyhow, it's still worth checking out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

You Don't Wanna Watch Zohan!!

It's been busy lately sorting out work... sheesh... How come work never gets sorted out? I'm always sorting... and sorting... and sorting...

Since The Dark Knight (TDK), I've been away from the cinemas... somehow no urge to go watch a movie cos everything seemed so boring after TDK...

But anyway, went for a movie marathon last weekend. Was strolling along Mid Valley with Bao Yi with the intention of catching a movie. Not only did I not get to watch the movie I was thinking of watching, I had to endure watching a movie that should never have been made in the first place. What movie did I want to watch that bad? Well... It wasn't exactly an irresistable urge but was hoping to catch The Clone Wars. For those of you who don't know, this will be the prelude to the Clone Wars TV Series... Anyway, they only had one show and we'd missed it so we ended up getting tickets for 2 shows back to back... Zohan (Even the mention of it sends a tingle down my spine) and Wall-E.

Anyway, Zohan in 2 words is 'brainless comedy'... It's not that it was lousy acting... Rob Schneider (The Animalistic Man Whore) is in there and Adam Sandler was okay but I was not much of a fan of this genre of comedy so... I guess it's just me. Those who love Jim Carrey, Leslie Nielsen and Stephen Chow would probably be rolling on the floor but it's just not my cup of tea. Wall-E on the other hand was nice...

The week before that watched Mummy 3 although... yes yes yes... everyone pretty much told me it was horrible... But I guess I was a sucker for punishment...

My verdict? Well... It was still watchable la... If not for the acting at least for the action. Considering how well (in my opinion) Brendan Fraser was in so many other shows, I was disappointed with Mummy 3. Somehow, I just didn't feel like he was in the show. So much so that the brother in law that I found irritating in the earlier Mummies did much better. Sheesh... even the abominable snowmen acted better. And I'd rather not talk about the son and the 'new' wife.

Dato' Michelle Yeoh (DMY) & Jet Li didn't really shine in the movie as well. Although DMY started out in action movies and is more than capable of carrying herself in a fight, I kinda prefer her in dramas as she has that regal, classy air to her and she shines much much better in movies like Memoirs of a Geisha and the Children of Nanking... Jet Li? Well... still prefer his chinese movies.

That aside, special effects was ok... So far nothing has been able to surpass the joke that was The Scorpion King... I kinda liked the appearance of the abominable snowmen though.. I've always like the idea of mythical guardian creatures... :-)

Some have mentioned it was probably the lack of the Weisz factor... and you know, I'm inclined to agree. The chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in the earlier 2 mummies was amusing and nice. This I suppose underlined the importance of a good cast and chemistry between the actors & actresses...

I can name several movies that sorta' flopped because of the lack of chemistry... The Star Wars prequels would be one... I mean... I am a Star Wars fan and if there's any show I would watch regardless of what people say, it would be Star Wars but sadly, there was no chemistry whatsoever between Hayden Christensen & Natalie Portman. The Dark Knight was a great movie... but they have also yet to find an actress to really fit in there... maybe that's why you never see the same actress twice in any of the batman sequels... Now compare these with films like Superman (Christopher Reeve & Margot Kidder), Classic Star Wars (Harrison Ford & Carrie Fischer), Mummy 1 & Mummy 2 (Brendan Fraser & Rachel Weisz), Remington Steele (Pierce Brosnan & Stephanie Zimbalist)...

That aside, caught some nice movies though outside of the cinema... There's Fly Away Home (starring a young Anna Paquin & Jeff Daniels), Never Back Down (Djimon Hounsou), Felon (Val Kilmer & Stephen Dorff) and The Great Debaters. The Great Debaters deserve special mention... It's a drama based on the true story of a college professor (played by Denzel Washington) who inspired his students to form the school's first debate team that went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship so go check it out...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Mid Autumn Festival

Bao Yi's company is having chinese dress-up day in conjunction with the upcoming Mid-Autumn festival and she scrambled to get her qipao modified. Just got it by mail yesterday from her mom and she looked so stunning when she put it on that I just had to snap a shot... Well... several shots to be exact.

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That and and I know it's about time to update the blog so what better excuse.

The mid-autumn festival or otherwise known as the lantern festival or mooncake festival is most commonly associated by the sudden mushrooming of stalls selling mooncakes and lanterns. Gone are the days where lanterns were made of transparent coloured papers that use small candles and feature the animals of the zodiac. Well.. you still see them but nowadays, you see more and more electrical lanterns using batteries, plastic with sirens as well... And the variety... Spiderman, Batman... You name it... they've got it!! The most popular one recently has to be Kungfu Panda...

Anyway, the mid-Autumn festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar). This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.

Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date and traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:

* Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
* Putting pomelo rinds on one's head
* Carrying brightly lit lanterns
* Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e
* Planting Mid-Autumn trees
* Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
* Lighting lanterns on towers
* Fire Dragon Dances

Speaking of moon cakes I really have to recommend Fook Pan's Chocolate Mooncake. It's only available from their factory which is in this small little shoplot on Jalan Ipoh. Well.. .supposedly there are distributors that buy from them and resell but I haven't seen any so far so the best is to get them warm from the oven... To get there just drive to Jalan Tun Razak, turn into Jalan Ipoh heading towards Kepong and look for a signboard just before a pedestrian bridge (it's before the Shell petrol station) and it says Fook Pan Cooking School... The chocolate mooncake costs MYR 10/ piece... worth every bite!! And a good point to note is that they were the first to produce chocolate mooncakes. At least as far as I know and this was several years back and I always go back every year.

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Since then, I have seen chocolate mooncakes popping up everywhere but so far, none that quite tastes the same. 2 other ones that I liked this year is the Chocolate Maple Snowy Skin and Chocolate Citrus Snowy Skin... Anyway, you can call them at +60 3 4042 7676 or visit their Web Site for more details and a complete price list.

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